Legal weed advocates target California as next battleground

“We have to be prudent in which campaigns we pursue and in what order," says the pro-pot Drug Policy Alliance.
By Matt Bradwell   |   Nov. 7, 2014 at 4:44 PM

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- With marijuana legalization coming to Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, cannabis advocates are looking to California to be the next state legalize weed for recreational purposes.

As recently as Sunday, the prospect of marijuana legalization in California faced an uncertain future as victories in Oregon and Alaska seemed anything but assured.

"The statewide ballot initiatives appear to be teetering and supporters are feeling less confident of victory than they were a few months ago," wrote Kerry Cavanaugh of the Los Angeles Times in a pre-election op-ed.

"Recent polls suggest Oregon's measure is barely above 50% support and Alaska's measure appears to be failing ... Oregon and Alaska are the bellwethers for legalization in California. If the initiatives fail, the California coalition that is planning for 2016 would have to evaluate whether there is still enough support for legalization."

Despite the tight polls, marijuana advocates pulled ahead in both states, legalizing weed with 56 percent support in Oregon and 52 percent in Alaska. The victories now position California squarely at the center of the legalization debate along with four other states -- Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada -- advocates consider "significantly likely" to vote on marijuana initiatives in 2016.

"We have to be prudent in which campaigns we pursue and in what order," Stephen Gutwillig, deputy executive director of programs at Drug Policy Alliance, told the International Business Times.

According to IBT, "Prepping California, the largest state, to vote on legalizing marijuana could cost upward of $10 million."

"Most of that will fund TV commercials to promote marijuana to the public. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in consulting with experts to make sure it aligns with existing law and has met all the components it needs to be considered for a vote."

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