The Oakland, Ca., Civil Liberties Alliance yesterday turned in more than enough signatures to get the Oakland Cannabis Initiative on the November ballot, reports the Oakland Tribune. The measure would not decriminalize pot until cannabis is legalized by state officials, but it outlines ways to tax and regulate sales when the time comes. The measure would direct the Oakland Police Department to treat the private adult use of marijuana as its lowest priority.
“The measure would ultimately have the city tax and regulate the private adult use of cannabis in Oakland for people 21 and over,” said Alliance member Joe DeVries. “It would help us keep cannabis under control, keep the city from wasting law-enforcement resources on it and keep cannabis out of the hands of children.” DeVries believes that within a few years, state legislation will allow localities to legalize and regulate cannabis. “That would get rid of the street dealing of marijuana,” he said. “If you put it behind the counter, put it in a store — it’s basically a substance up there with caffeine, tobacco and over-the-counter medicines — then you basically take it off the black market, take away the profit for the dealers and get it off the street corners,” he said. Police disagree. Said Oakland narcotics Lt. Rick Hart. “How much would it cost in stores? How difficult will it be to get it? There’s still going to be a black market if it’s too expensive in the store and you can get it for less on the street.” Advocates say money generated by taxing pot sales would help fund vital city services. “The revenue it could generate…is phenomenal,” DeVries said.