Marijuana legalization campaign launches in California

by CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO  |  published on May 5, 2016

The coalition behind the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in California launched Wednesday, vowing to avoid the stumbles that undermined past efforts here to legitimize the drug.

The as-yet unnumbered initiative aiming for November has begun submitting more than 600,000 signatures, far more than the 365,000 needed.

It was California that led the legalization debate six years ago with Proposition 19, a pivotal moment in the national discourse that spurred Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska to formally recognize cannabis, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the downtown event.

Now, he said, it’s the state’s turn to lead again.

“The ‘War on Drugs’ has been an abject failure,” Newsom said, contending the decades-old federal policies to clamp down on drugs by harshly criminalizing them have disproportionately harmed people of color and the poor.

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