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

Hillary Clinton goes to bat for marijuana, kind of sort of..

Image from http://www.hightimes.com/read/hillary-clinton-colorado-marijuana-plant


Yesterday, Hillary Clinton said at a town hall meeting in South Carolina that she would like to see marijuana moved from schedule I to schedule II of the government’s drug classification system (1).  This is on the heels of the announcement by her lead democratic contender, Bernie Sanders, that he supports the end of the prohibition of marijuana (2).

While it may seem at first blush that we can now say that Hillary Clinton is now supporting legalization, that would probably be quite an exaggeration.  The United States classifies drugs on five different schedules.  The drugs on these lists are considered “controlled substances,” as called for by the  Controlled Substances Act, enacted by Richard Nixon in 1970 (3).  Keep in mind that alcohol and nicotine are not on these lists.  Marijuana is currently on Schedule I, which means there is no recognized medical use and it is highly dangerous.  It is along side heroin and LSD.  Changing marijuana to schedule II would mean that it is still a controlled substance and would now be alongside vikadin, Oxycodone, and morphine.  Change.org has a petition to the senate to remove marijuana from the controlled substances list and place alcohol and tobacco on schedule I.

So Mrs. Clinton, you are saying marijuana is still addictive and should be controlled by government agencies.  You are saying it’s just kind of more like methamphetamine and codeine than like ecstacy or peyote.  This is like saying “okay, 23 states might have a point, let’s act like we are listening but still close our ears”.

The switch from schedule I to schedule II would possibly open the door for more legitimate research, much of which is already being done at top universities today (4).  It would not make it legal to buy, sell, or carry weed, much like it is not legal to buy, sell, or carry morphine (without a prescription).  This could open the door for big pharmaceutical companies to take over the industry and start requiring physician prescriptions.  This would also not address the thousands of people currently jailed for marijuana offenses nor would it do anything to address the black market for marijuana.  Hillary Clinton’s statement was a way to portray her party’s growing support for marijuana, without really saying anything.

On the other hand, let’s keep an eye on Bernie Sanders.  He is currently the closest to supporting full legalization of marijuana and treating it like alcohol and tobacco.

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


(1) Hillary Clinton Calls for Easing Federal Restrictions on Marijuana. Alex Seitz-Wald. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/hillary-clinton-calls-easing-federal-restrictions-marijuana-n459286

(2) Bernie Sanders calls to end prohibition of marijuana. Alex Seitz-Wald 10/28/15. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/bernie-sanders-end-marijuana-prohibition

(3) Controlled Substances Act (CSA): Overview.  Findlaw.  http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/controlled-substances-act-csa-overview.html

(4) Valérie Wolff, Ielyzaveta Zinchenko, Véronique Quenardelle, Olivier Rouyer, Bernard Geny. Characteristics and Prognosis of Ischemic Stroke in Young Cannabis Users Compared With Non-Cannabis Users. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2015; 66 (18): 2052 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.867