Will California legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2016?

California will definitely try to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016.  The state attorney general’s office has received 18 initiatives to legalize it for the November ballot in 2016 (1).  10 of these initiatives have been titled and summarized. For a nice comparison chart on these 10 initiatives, please see this article in the International Business Times (2).  The initiatives vary in terms of how much tax will be added (all have the state making a ton of money from selling pot, ranging from 5% to 30%).  They also vary in how much personal possession would be allowed and what effects it would have on business rules.  Some decrease the personal allowance from what it currently is for medical marijuana, some increase it up to the ability to have 30 pounds of dried marijuana in one’s personal possession.  

If anything can be learned from the failure 5 years ago of proposition 19 (3), and the recent failure of the legalization initiative in Ohio (4), it is important to back an initiative that does not focus on approving just a few insiders to benefit, or one that caters to “big marijuana”, that is the ability for giant corporations to take over the current medical model.  In both recently failed attempts, infighting among the different support groups hurt the initiatives overall (5).

Another strong indicator that California will legalize, is that last month Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act, which sets up an infrastructure for regulating marijuana.  However, the major flaw in this bill is that every city is now required to come up with an ordinance addressing the city or county’s rules on allowing marijuana businesses.  The bill allows cities to enact ordinances without the vote of the citizens in those communities.  So the result is that most cities are just playing it safe, and would rather not deal with the issue “in their city”.

Some of the current initiatives would remove this God-like authority of local jurisdictions to ignore the state law, and prohibit patients from receiving access to their medicine.  Some of the initiatives give tons of money to law enforcement agencies, to come up with more restrictions and more ways to make money off the new rules.

So in summary, there are a lot of groups that want legalization of marijuana in California.  With more voters likely to turn out in the 2016 election, experts predict that it will be more likely that the initiative gets approved in 2016.  Odds are that California will be one of the next states to legalize (there are 10 with initiatives for 2016).  The question is, will citizens be able to have access, or will local ordinances render the law impotent?


The High Note Legalization Blog is produced by High Note Caregivers, a licensed cooperative in California, currently providing care and consultation to members in Redlands, Yucaipa, Calimesa, Loma Linda, and Moreno Valley.  Visit us on:





  1. http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Five-things-Calif-weed-legalization-movement-can-6610795.php
  2. http://www.ibtimes.com/california-marijuana-legalization-2016-10-legalization-efforts-afoot-golden-state-2166983
  3. http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/04/news/marijuana-legalization-2016/
  4. http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Five-things-Calif-weed-legalization-movement-can-6610795.php
  5. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2015/11/05/battle-royale-starts-to-erupt-among-californias-legalization-factions