Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - Page B - 5
Copyright: 2004 San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: [email protected]
Supporters of an initiative that would tax and regulate marijuana sellers in Oakland moved one step closer to their goal Monday, after turning in more than 32,000 signatures to the city clerk's office.
The Alameda County registrar must verify 3 percent of the signatures to determine whether the Oakland Cannabis Initiative is placed on the November ballot. That could take at least a week.
"The support out there was great," said Joe DeVries, who supports the measure and is a field director for county Supervisor Nate Miley.
On Monday morning, members of a pro-marijuana coalition called the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance took five boxes of petitions to Oakland City Hall, where they were reviewed by Marjo Keller, deputy clerk for elections.
Keller determined that the group had collected 32,037 signatures, a number well in excess of the 19,700 signatures -- 10 percent of Oakland's voters -- needed to qualify a measure for a citywide ballot.
The initiative comes as most of about a dozen cannabis enterprises in the city, including four in the 1700 block of Telegraph Avenue in an area dubbed "Oaksterdam," are being forced to close or stay open as cafes -- without selling marijuana -- or risk the wrath of Oakland police. The closures began June 1 when a new ordinance took effect.
DeVries said he wanted to dispel the notion that the initiative would legalize marijuana, saying the group wants Oakland police to treat marijuana use by adults as its lowest priority and by taxing pot sellers, help fund for more officers and other city services.
"I think we're really changing the movement," DeVries said. "We're not saying legalize, we're saying tax and regulate and treat it as you treat alcohol."
Under the initiative, cannabis businesses would be required to pay taxes and licensing fees and the sale of marijuana to minors would be prohibited.
There would be no public advertising of cannabis through television, radio or billboards, and no business licensed to sell cannabis would be located within 600 feet of a school.
The initiative would also call for changes in state law making marijuana use illegal and "eliminate criminal penalties for private, adult cannabis use."
Richard Lee, owner of the SR71 Cafe on 17th Street, which has a business permit to sell medicinal marijuana, said the initiative would benefit a city where voters in the past two years twice rejected measures that would have helped pay for police.
"They've been looking to put another ballot measure that would raise money for police," Lee said. "I think this would do the same thing, and people are always in favor of this as opposed to one for police."
The boxes of petitions submitted Monday were sealed and sent to the registrar's office, which opened one of the boxes and began verifying signatures, said Cynthia Cornejo, county registration supervisor.
Employees will disregard any signatures that are forged, duplicated, from
non registered voters, or from those whose addresses don't correspond with what's on file.
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Marijuana Policy Project
Drug Policy Alliance
Oakland Pot Measure Seeks a Shift in Priorities
Pro-Marijuana Advocates Seek Oakland Vote
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