Oakland Cannabis Initiative Submits 32,000 Signatures to Qualify for the November Ballot

Press Release June 20, 2004
Media Contact

Joe DeVries at (510) 504-7021 or Judy Appel at (510) 295-5636

The Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance (‘OCLA”) submitted over 30,000 signatures this morning to the City of Oakland elections official to qualify the Oakland Cannabis Initiative for the November presidential election. If passed by voters, this initiative would instruct the city to tax and regulate the private adult use of Cannabis as soon as possible under state law, which in turn would generate much needed revenue for vital city services. Until the state allows such a system, the initiative requires city police to treat the private adult use of cannabis as their lowest law enforcement priority.

“This law will keep cannabis off the streets, away from children, and out of the hands of dangerous drug dealers, by making it available in licensed businesses, not on neighborhood street corners,” said Dale Geringer, a member of OCLA, and the president of the California Chapter of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

Election law allows local initiatives six months to gather the requisite number of signatures, however the Oakland based campaign was able to gather them in just over half that time, showing broad support citywide. “We collected signatures in every commercial area from Foothill Square to Rockridge, and even went door to door in some neighborhoods,” said Kim Swinford, the campaign Field Director, “We found that Oaklanders are tired of police resources being wasted on adult cannabis use, while programs are being cut in our parks and libraries.”

OCLA expects the signatures to be verified and the initiative to be placed on the ballot within the next few weeks after which they will kick off a citywide grassroots campaign. The Campaign has received dozens of contributions from local supporters, including business owners and private individuals. Also, several elected officials have already endorsed the measure, including: City Council members Nancy Nadel and Desley Brooks, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, and Oakland School Board Member Dan Siegel. The Washington D.C. Based Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, both of which helped in the funding of the poll and the drafting of the language of the initiative, matched this local support.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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