Pro-cannabis activist group Weed4Votes set up shop across the street from San Jose City Hall yesterday to give away marijuana to passersby. The campaign was designed to raise awareness of three new initiatives that are pushing to legalize marijuana in California later this year. In exchange for giving the group their contact information, people were given a voucher for a free gram of marijuana.
The only potential hitch is that so far there’s only a limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries that are honoring the vouchers—the rest will become redeemable only when the initiatives pass and recreational marijuana becomes legal.
“I’d like to see legalized across the state and done in a way that promotes business and allows the current industry to move into a regulated market,” Weed4Votes founder Dave Hodges told reporters.
Hodges, who also founded the All American Cannabis Club in San Jose seven years ago, explained that there are currently three primary cannabis-related initiatives being considered in California.
His group supports the Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Revenue Act—which would allow adults to use cannabis recreationally and would establish a commission to oversee its use—and the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative—which calls for no taxes on medical marijuana and a strictly enforced cap on taxes applied to recreational sales.
The activist group said it does not support the third initiative, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, because it wouldn’t allow for the free distribution of cannabis.
If California legalizes recreational marijuana, it would be the third and final west-coast state to do so, since Oregon and Washington have both already implemented laws allowing for medical and recreational marijuana use.
Although California has established a reputation for being relatively lenient when it comes to medical cannabis cultivation and use, it has yet to pass laws allowing for the legal recreational use of the plant.
Pro-cannabis advocates like Hodges say that such a law would create much-needed economic activity, while also undermining the presence of the cannabis black market.
Many points to Desert Hot Springs, a small town in the “Desert Empire” of the Coachella Valley, as an example of how legalizing cannabis, might create new economic activity.
The city of just over 25,000 people began exploring the potential of commercial marijuana cultivation for medical dispensaries in 2014 when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Many in the town credit its embrace of marijuana farming with the dramatic economic improvement it has experienced in recent years.