Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who has assailed medical marijuana dispensaries as illegal, profit-reaping operations, is targeting the legitimacy of the November ballot initiative to legalize recreational pot and allow local governments to tax and regulate its use.
In a letter to attorney general Jerry Brown, Cooley charges that the title and summary for the measure is "wrong and highly misleading" and should be disallowed.
Cooley, a Republican candidate for state attorney general, charges that the initiative offers false promises of providing "major tax and other fiscal benefits" for the state and local governments and regulating marijuana like alcohol.
Cooley argues that the burden will fall on "local governments to promulgate comprehensive cannabis-related regulations." He said that will "unduly burden local governments" and "lead to a chaotic and confusing result."
He also argues that the measure, which would allow Californians over 21 to grow pot in 25-square-foot residential spaces, would also "create an absolute right to cultivate marijuana on private property" and, possibly, on public lands.
Cooley's April 13 letter was followed 10 days later by a memo in The Huffington Post from the Drug Policy Alliance, an group advocating alternatives to the drug war.
In "Dismantling the Talking Points of Marijuana Prohibitionists," Tony Newman and Stephen Gutwillig of the Alliance argue that "the California ballot initiative simply acknowledges that marijuana is here and that it's more sensible to regulate this massive market."
"The bottom line," they wrote, "is that marijuana is California's largest agricultural commodity, freely consumed by millions...with no financial benefit to the state...This is a reality we literally can't afford to ignore any longer."