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California’s Long, Strange Trip Towards Legalization

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Back in the heady days of 1996, California became the first state to ignite the national debate over medical marijuana legalization by passing the Compassionate Use Act (a.k.a. Proposition 215) on November 5, 1996 by 55.6%. The passage of this thought-provoking piece of legislation pulled the Sunshine State out of the primordial ooze of marijuana’s darkest period. Providing encouragement for other states to follow the Left Coast’s progressive path, Prop 215 ultimately sparked an exodus from the archaic dogma of prohibition.

Thankfully, 20 years into this Jeffersonian experiment, California’s historically liberal voters will head to the polls this November to vote for full-blown legalization. Hoping to join Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, Californians thoroughly anticipate legalizing this peaceful plant during the next general election.

With the latest polling data suggesting that approximately 60% of the Golden State’s potential electorate intend to vote “Yes” for legalization this November … many remain blissfully unaware of California’s long and arduous path to the promised land.

California’s long, strange trip towards legalization


1969 – By the late 60s, our nation was neck deep in mayhem and California’s anti-pot sentiment was at an all-time high. During that ugly little moment in history, nearly 75% of the population believed that smoking marijuana was a criminal offense. With the atrocity of the Vietnam War in full swing, Mohammed Ali convicted of being a draft dodger and New York’s Stonewall riots shocking the nation, 1969 represented a low point for our nation.

Nixon_marijuana_proposition_191972 – While Nixon’s thugs were under investigation for breaking into the Watergate Hotel, California’s original Proposition 19 established an unfortunate track record of losing big. Capturing only 35% of the yes vote, California’s voters ruthlessly exterminated Proposition 19. Ignorant to the savage consequences of their failure, had Californians passed the OG Prop 19 legislation back in`72, it would have eliminated any state penalties for the personal consumption of pot by those over the age of 18.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 8.30.07 AM1996 – Medical marijuana is first legalized in California! With 55.6% of California’s voters supporting Proposition 215, the 1996 Compassionate Use Act (CUA) passed with flying colors. Under California’s CUA, doctors were finally shielded from unjustified prosecution for simply recommending medical marijuana to their patients.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 8.29.24 AM2003 – Medical marijuana card system first established. SB 420 was first established when Gov. Davis signed legislation that created the Medical Marijuana Card Program for California’s residents. With the passage of SB 420, MMJ patients now had a means of identifying themselves as such, when approached by police.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.04.26 AM2008 – California’s Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown establishes guidelines. Designed to help keep medical marijuana secure and  provide guidance to law enforcement, the 2008 medical marijuana guidelines were extremely helpful in answering many patients’ questions.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.06.59 AM2010 – Smacking of déjà vu, California’s first attempt at legalizing recreational marijuana consumption goes down in flames. Missing the opportunity to lead our country out of the dark ages of prohibition, 53% of California’s voters opposed the regulation and taxation of recreational pot.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 8.31.18 AM2011 – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes legislation that would have created a 600-foot school buffer zone around any dispensary.


Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 8.31.48 AM2012: Washington and Colorado legalize recreational pot. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved their respective ballot initiatives, legalizing the recreational sale and use of marijuana.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.09.09 AM2013The Cole memo quiets concerns. On August 2, 2013 James Cole, the U.S. Atty. Gen.’s second-in-command, issued a clarifying memo offering marijuana enforcement guidelines in the aftermath of the legalization votes in both Washington and Colorado; suggesting the feds will allow states to legalize recreational marijuana provided they have stringent rules and regulations on their new industry.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.11.52 AM2014SB 1262 rots on the vine. The police-backed bill hoped to put more restrictive rules and regulations on cultivators and collectives. Backed by Sen. Lou Carrera, a Democrat from Santa Ana, SB 1262 was backed by law enforcement and the League of California Cities.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.05.34 AM2015 – Gov. Jerry Brown finally signs on the dotted line … finally providing a long-overdue set of rules and regulations for the medical marijuana industry.


Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.12.44 AM2015 – Ex-Napster founder and past Facebook president, Sean Parker helps to fund California’s 2016 initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.13.44 AM2016 –  And last but not least, California finally designates it’s first medical marijuana czar. Tapping Lori Ajax to become the new deputy director of California’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulations.


Well ahead of their time also, by 1968 Steppenwolf was already preaching the gospel truth…

While pushin’ back his glasses Sam is sayin’ casually
“I was elected by the masses”
And with that in mind he starts to unwind
A vicious attack on the finest of grasses

Well it’s evil, wicked, mean and nasty
(Don’t step on the grass, Sam)
And it will ruin our fair country
(Don’t be such an ass, Sam)
Well, it will hook your Sue and Johnny
(You’re so full of bull, Sam)
All will pay that disagree with me
(Please give up you already lost the fight, alright)

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