June 29 DPA Briefing on the AUMA Initiative
By California Cannabis Advocates
This briefing happened to come on an auspicious day, the announcement that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) had qualified for the ballot and would be voted on in November 2016. The Secretary of State is currently undertaking the process of certifying the ballot language and selecting a proposition number for the campaign (i.e. Vote Yes on Prop 420).
The meeting started 20 minutes late, first with a stern warning from both session leaders that off-topic questions or comments (“soap-boxing”) would not be tolerated and the offender would be asked to leave. Obviously directed at CCHI individuals from previous meetings but quite off-putting to this reporter. Afterwards, before starting with the briefing, everyone present introduced themselves. It was a diverse room of maybe 40 attendees, about half minority and half women (diverse for a cannabis crowd). The attendees represented numerous and well-known businesses and political organizations including GLACA, ASA, CCIA, Weedmaps, California Minority Alliance, Black Lives Matter, and more.
The initiative itself is over 60 pages long, unusually lengthy for a voter initiative. To ease the education process for the community, the DPA prepared a fact sheet about the initiative.
Some positive features:
- legal to possess 1 ounce of flower or 8 grams of concentrates (or edibles with that content)
- legal to grow 6 plants inside a structure (county cannot ban indoor personal growing)
- $50 million a year for community reinvestment
- medical patients exempted from 9% sales tax
Some negative features:
- medical patients will still pay a 15% excise tax (sin tax)(same as recreational customers)
- possession above 1 ounce still a misdemeanor
- 18-21 year olds cannot access new system, still suffer legal consequences
The positives for consumers in rural and conservative areas may outweigh their concerns, since their access has been severely restricted even under Prop 215. AUMA would guarantee every Californian over 21 the right to cultivate 6 plants inside their home (though it would not protect renters from their landlord, or employees from their boss). It would also decree than any municipality which bans outdoor growing or commercial activity cannot have a share of the tax money collected from marijuana revenue.
The decision is more mercurial for urban consumers, who have greater access currently. But we all need to remember that cannabis activity is still criminal under Prop 215, and under the new MMRSA laws, the California State Legislature can (and is going to) tax MEDICAL cannabis, so the patients are stuck between a rock and a hard place. At least with AUMA an increase on the 15% excise tax would require a 2/3 majority (compared to the simple majority required currently). Prop 215 protections would still exist under AUMA, and DPA’s head council continues to believe it is a good legal foundation for patients (individuals cultivating/consuming medicine for private use).
It is also important to remember that AUMA does nothing to change federal law, which is a major barrier keeping the likes of “Big Tobacco” and “Big Pharma” out of the cannabis industry.
As the election comes closer we’ll have more updates for you. Stay tuned!