Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Cooley to Brown: Do Not Approve Marijuana Ballot Title
By Steven M. Ellis, Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has called on Attorney General Jerry Brown not to approve the title and summary of an initiative to legalize marijuana that will appear on the November ballot.
Cooley, one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination to replace Brown, yesterday announced his opposition to “The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010” and criticized the title and summary prepared by Brown’s office last September.
“The marijuana initiative is terribly misleading, poorly drafted and not in the best interests of California residents,” he said in a written statement. “It will not regulate, not control nor effectively tax marijuana in California.”
Under the language prepared by Brown’s office, the title of Initiative Measure 09-0024 says it “changes California law to legalize marijuana and allow it to be regulated and taxed.”
The initiative’s summary adds that it allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use; permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older; prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old; and maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired.
The summary further states that the initiative could save up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders, and could potentially lead to major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products.
But Cooley argued in his letter to Brown that the title “impermissibly and unfairly misleads the public into believing that the Act accomplishes what its title denotes.”
He said the initiative would not establish a regulatory framework, inasmuch as it leaves such responsibility to individual cities and counties, and would lead to confusion in addition to burdening local governments.
Instead, Cooley contended, the initiative was actually deregulatory in nature because it grants an absolute right to cultivate marijuana on private, and possibly public, property.
Cooley further asserted that the title’s reference to taxing cannabis would mislead the public into believing that the act would allow a state marijuana tax. The initiative’s language prohibits a statewide tax on marijuana, but allows taxation at the local level.
Cooley also said that the initiative could cost the state billions in federal funding under a provision prohibiting punishment or discrimination against a marijuana user unless such consumption actually affects job performance.
He wrote that employers who receive government grants and contracts greater than $100,000 and are required by the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 to maintain a drug-free workplace would jeopardize receipt of such funds if they follow the state law instead.
Cooley’s opponents for the Republican nomination—Sen. Tom Harman, R-Costa Mesa, and conservative legal scholar John C. Eastman—have both indicated that they oppose the initiative.
A spokesperson for Harman said he “opposed any attempt to liberalize drug laws in California,” while an Eastman spokesperson told the MetNews “this is the first thing [Cooley] has gotten right in this campaign.”
On the Democratic side, Facebook executive Chris Kelly and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris have both reportedly expressed opposition to the initiative, and a spokesperson said yesterday that Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, opposes it as well.
The remaining candidates in that race—former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Assembly Majority Leader Albert Torrico, D-Newark, and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara—could not be reached for comment.
In other news, Harman yesterday said three measures he has proposed to overhaul the state’s system of capital punishment will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee this week in recognition of National Victims Rights Week:
•SB 1018 would change California’s lethal injection procedure to a lethal dosage of anesthetic. Harman’s office said the alternative to a three-drug cocktail would resolve concerns about cruel and unusual punishment, reduce litigation over the current protocol and “ensure that executions are carried out quickly and humanely.”
•SB 1025 would require death penalty habeas corpus petitions to begin in Superior Court, “where the claims can be investigated more quickly and accurately,” Harman’s office said.
•SCA 27 would amend the California Constitution to allow the California Supreme Court to transfer direct appeals to the Court of Appeal in order to streamline the appeals process for the death penalty.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company