The California Medical Association (CMA) announced this week that they formally endorse the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), a marijuana legalization measure likely to hit the ballot November 2016.
“The California Medical Association believes the Adult Use of Marijuana Act is a comprehensive and thoughtfully constructed measure that will allow state officials to better protect public health by clarifying the role of physicians, controlling, and regulating marijuana use by responsible adults and keeping it out of the hands of children,” says CMA president Steve Larson, M.D.
Under the AUMA, adults 21 years and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. It would also regulate and tax the production, manufacture, and sale of marijuana for adult use and rewrite the criminal penalties to reduce common marijuana felonies to misdemeanors.
The measure’s campaign is currently gathering the 365,880 signatures it needs to qualify the measure for November’s general election. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has already endorsed the AUMA, as has former Facebook President Sean Parker.
The CMA, an influential lobbying group that represents more than 40,000 members throughout the state, believes the initiative will help in the monitoring, research, and regulation of marijuana to in turn protect public health, and reduce the number of non-symptomatic patients in the state’s medical marijuana system.
“Medical marijuana should be strictly regulated like medicine to ensure safe and appropriate use by patients with legitimate health conditions and adult-use marijuana should be regulated like alcohol,” says Larson. “This measure, along with the recently passed medical marijuana bills, will ensure the state of California does both – with the public health and public interest being paramount concerns.”
Outside of the regulation and public health, the AUMA is an important move for California from a business perspective. The 572,726 medical marijuana users in California only represent 1.49 percent of the state’s population (38,332,521 total) but have still managed to generate $59 to $109 million in tax revenue over an eight month period for the state.
To put it in perspective, Colorado has the next highest recorded tax revenue at $6 million, and they have fully legalized recreational marijuana. Even without the AUMA California is a major market player. Just think how much the state stands to make if all of their citizens are provided with access to legal cannabis – this is a huge market opportunity waiting to be tapped.
Legalization: A Long Time Coming
While medical and recreational cannabis legislation is changing throughout the United States, many believe that California is behind the times after being the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. If the AUMA reaches the ballot and is passed by voters in November, California will become the fifth state to legalize adult recreational use.
Although many are unaware, both marijuana and hemp were widely and freely used commodities throughout United State’s history. It wasn’t until the 1930s when a combination of xenophobia and competition for corporate profits led to an unwarranted stigma. The AUMA is helping to eliminate this stigma and reestablish cannabis as a legitimate part of our lives.