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Friday, September 25, 2009

State OKs petition drive for pot legalization

(09-22) 15:41 PDT San Francisco -- Two prominent East Bay marijuana advocates got clearance from the state today to try to put a pot-legalization initiative on the November 2010 California ballot.

Richard Lee, executive director of the medical marijuana dispensary known as Oaksterdam, and Jeff Jones, former director of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, are the sponsors of a measure that would allow anyone over 21 to possess or grow marijuana for personal use. It would allow each local government to decide whether to tax and regulate marijuana sales.

The secretary of state's office approved the initiative for circulation along with a similar measure sponsored by John Donohue of Long Beach. Each needs at least 433,971 signatures of registered voters by Feb. 18 to qualify for the November ballot.

The Lee-Jones initiative would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Lee says it would generate billions of dollars in tax revenue.

Marijuana possession, cultivation and sale would remain illegal under federal law, however. After California voters approved the nation's first law legalizing medical use of marijuana in 1996, federal authorities raided local pot clubs, prosecuted growers and sought to punish doctors who recommended the drug to their patients.

E-mail Bob Egelko at

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