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Tokers, Tipplers, Voters, Will You Lend Your Signature? 'Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act' Eyes 2012 Ballot

Photo by jasonawhite via Flickr
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Here in California, grapes are a cash crop as they are turned into bottles of wine--booze that is taxed and regulated by the government. Now the "Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012," is asking that the state treat another prolific crop--pot--like wine, and make some money off it while regulating it like we do with alcohol.

This movement comes in the form of a ballot initiative from retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, and the same people behind the failed 2010 Proposition 19, which sought voter approval for the legalization of marijuana in California, explains the OC Register.

Gray and the "Marijuana Like Wine" team assert that the drug is the largest cash crop in the state, however we are passing up much-needed revenue by not taking it on as a legal and taxable agricultural product. In fact, says Gray, they "estimate that the state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenues."

According to the language of the "Act," however, the proposal is to not change the law "with regard to using or being impaired by marijuana in public or in the workplace," or "with regard to driving under influence or minors having possession."

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Back in April, Gray explained on his blog that he felt Prop 19 didn't so much as fail in November, but that it passed and would be enacted just a little later than thought. He also explains that in what would ultimately become the language of the proposed act, that distinctions would need to be made between marijuana and hemp, based on THC level; in the "Act" that line is drawn at 1% THC, with anything less than being classified as hemp and treated as a viable, non-drug product as it was in Colonial times.

The model for handling marijuana as a cash crop, of course, is the wine industry.

On a national level, getting marijuana decriminalized seems to be a no-go, as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency ruled recently that marijuana is classified as a "dangerous drug." That distinction, say some medical marijuana advocates, is undermining their progress in getting pot recognized as therapeutic.

Now in the signature gathering stage, the "Regulate Marijuana Like Wine" movement will likely find a higher profile as they work to raise money for their campaign, and as the 2012 vote approaches. Are you with them?

The full language of the proposed measure is below.

The People of the State of California do enact as follows: The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012 SECTION 1. Findings, Declarations, Purpose, Directives, and Orders

New Section 11362.95 is added to the Health and Safety Code:

11362.95. This section shall be known as and may be cited as the "Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012," known hereinafter as the "Act."

(a) The People of the State of California hereby find and declare:

(1) Outlawing marijuana has not reduced its availability and has actually resulted in making it easier for minors to acquire.

(2) Marijuana is an untapped revenue source for the State of California, and that the best way to tap into that source for the benefit of all Californians is to tax and regulate it.

(3) The regulation of marijuana will benefit the People of the State of California by reducing criminal gang activity, promoting agriculture, creating jobs by creating a new hemp industry in the State of California, and reduce the fiscal and overpopulation burdens on the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

(b) The purposes of this Act are as follows:

(1) To amend the California Health and Safety Code sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, 11485, and Vehicle Code section 23222(b), such that persons 21 years of age or older shall no longer be prohibited from the use, possession, trade, gifting, sales, distribution, storage, transportation, production, or cultivation of marijuana.

(2) Marijuana, THC, and CBD explicitly and/or by inference, shall be removed from Health and Safety Code section 11054, except for those statutes pertaining to:

(A) Operating a motor vehicle;

(B) Using marijuana or being impaired in the workplace or public nonsmoking areas.

(C) Providing, transferring, or selling marijuana to a person under 21 years of age; and

(D) The use, possession, cultivation, processing, sales, distribution, transporting, or storing on premises of marijuana by persons under 21 years of age.

(3) The amendment of statutes that criminalize the use, possession, cultivation, processing, transportation, storage, distribution, gifting and/or selling of marijuana in any form, or method of ingestion by persons 21 years of age or older, to legalize all such for-profit or non-profit activity by those persons, groups, or by approved business entities, and does not subject these persons/entities to search, arrest, prosecution, seizure, asset forfeiture, and/or any criminal or civil penalty or sanction.

(4) That these enumerated activities are not punishable herein.

(5) That all pending court actions under said amended statutes that conflict with the provisions of this Act shall be dismissed with prejudice.

(c) The People of the State of California hereby declare that this Act expressly prohibits the following:

(1) The search, arrest, prosecution, seizure of marijuana, asset forfeiture, or imposition of any criminal or civil penalties or fines for persons 21 years of age or older or entities for acting within the provisions of this Act. Without limiting any other greater immunity or rights granted herein, these persons/entities are also granted the immunity specified in Health and Safety Code section 11367, subject to its provisions.

(2) Any and all commercial advertising of the sales, distribution, and use of marijuana, except for medical marijuana and products that contain less than one percent THC. This provision shall be enforced hereafter by penalties to be set forth by the Legislature.

(d) The People of the State of California hereby expressly declare that this Act does not repeal, modify, or change any present medical marijuana statutes as set forth in California Proposition 215 and its progeny.

(e) The People of the State of California hereby declare:

(1) This Act adopts the definitions of marijuana and THC as they are presently set forth in Health and Safety Code Sections 11018 and 11006.5, but those definitions shall be broadly interpreted to include the species Cannabis Indica, Ruderalis, and Americana, as well as any plant part, derivative, interspecies hybrids or cross-breeds, and all non-genetically-modified strains of the Cannabis genus and plant.

(2) Existing taxes and regulations for the establishment of the farming, industry, distribution, retail sales, and wholesale transactions of agricultural crops and products shall apply to marijuana, regardless of THC level, using the grape winery industry as a model, so long as the results support these declarations, purposes and goals.

(3) All marijuana or hemp products with a THC level below one percent shall be authorized for normal retail sales. All marijuana or hemp products with a THC level of one percent or above shall be restricted for normal retail sales to persons 21 years of age or older and regulated in a manner similar to wine, so long as the results support these declarations, purposes and goals.

(4) The State of California, and all branches of its government, shall liberally construe the meaning and implementation of this Act to favor and benefit individuals, and qualifying business entities regarding the following:

(A) No taxes, fees, laws, rules, regulations, or local city or county zoning requirements may be adopted or enacted to defeat, deny, or prohibit the purposes of this Act, or to defeat, deny, or prohibit persons 21 years of age or older, associations, organizations commercial, agricultural, or industrial businesses from engaging in the activities protected by this Act, and all civil rights apply as set forth in Civil Code Sections 52.1 et seq., 54, Food and Agricultural Code Sections 54033 through 54035, inclusive.

(B) As per the winery regulations of the alcohol industry model that allow for non-commercial home brewing, any person, association, or collective group not producing more than 25 flowering plants or 12 pounds of dried processed marijuana per adult, per year, shall be exempt from any winery regulations of the alcohol industry model, excises, fees, and taxes, except for income taxes and sales taxes, if they apply.

(C) No regulations, taxes, or fees shall be enacted or imposed for marijuana for qualifying persons and entities, which are more severe or restrictive than those for comparable and reasonable usage in the commercial wine grape farming and winery regulations of the alcohol industry model, including for farming, planting, cultivating, irrigating, harvesting, processing, brokering, storing, selling, distributing, and establishing of cooperatives or collective associations.

(5) Regardless of jurisdictional arguments, all state, local, elected, appointed, hired employees, officers, and officials shall refuse to and shall not cooperate with or assist federal, state, or local officials or employees who would eradicate marijuana, act for seizure or forfeiture, or defeat any liberally construed purpose of this Act, or to operate under any contract or arrangement to repeal or circumvent this Act directly or indirectly, or to follow or to abide by any federal laws or regulations that are in conflict with this Act. Further, no such person acting alone, or with any other person or legislative or executive body, may contract or agree to cooperate with or to assist federal officials, employees, agencies or departments to obtain any money, property, gain, or advantage by the arrest, prosecution, conviction, or deprivation or seizure of property of anyone acting within the age provisions of this Act.

(6) Within 30 days of passage of this Act, the offices of both the state Attorney General and the Department of Public Health shall inform the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Attorney General, Congress, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Food and Drug Administration that in 1996 the state of California recognized the current medical use of marijuana in treatment in the United States, and since 1996 is a state-regulated medical practice. Physicians have evaluated thousands of patients who have used marijuana with no adverse consequences, and for that reason demands or petitions as is appropriate (see 21 CFR 1308.43, 21 USC 811-812) that marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols as defined in §21 USC 802(16) be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 USC 800 et. seq., where it is currently listed as a drug with no accepted medical use.

(7) The State of California is ordered to protect and defend all provisions of this Act from any and all challenges or litigation, whether from individuals, officials, cities, counties, the state or federal governments.

(f) This Act shall become effective immediately upon passage.

SECTION 2. Severability

If any of the provisions of this Act, or any part thereof, is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 3. Conflicting Measures

If this Act is approved by the voters but superseded by law by any other conflicting ballot measure approved by the voters at the same election, and the conflicting measures are later held invalid, this Act shall be self-executing and given the full force of law.

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