Free grams promised if voters legalize pot

Vouchers for a free gram of marijuana were given away in San Jose Friday to raise awareness for petitions to legalize recreational pot statewide in November.

The vouchers were distributed at a table across from City Hall and are only for adults. They can’t be redeemed for recreational use unless the state legalizes marijuana this year, Weed4Votes founder Dave Hodges said.

The giveaway was organized by Weed4Votes, a campaign aimed at legalizing marijuana this year and supporting two of three petitions that need to be submitted in April to qualify for the November ballot, Hodges said.

The two petitions supported by the campaign are the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act and the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative. They would legalize marijuana for those 21 years old or over and give cities local control over marijuana, but not allow a ban unless approved by voters, Hodges said.

The campaign isn’t supporting a third petition, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, because it doesn’t permit free distribution of weed, he said.

People had to give their contact information to learn more about the effort but weren’t required to sign a petition, according to Hodges.

Some medical cannabis clubs are honoring the vouchers for patients, Hodges said:

“I’d like to see (marijuana) legalized across the state and done in a way that promotes business and allows the current industry to move into a regulated market.”

Hodges started the All American Cannabis Club seven years ago in San Jose but it was shut down last year because it didn’t meet regulations under a city ordinance.

In June 2014, the City Council approved zoning and operational restrictions on medical marijuana collectives, which are required to register with the city.

There were only about 20 locations that qualified among the 80 clubs doing business at the time, according to Hodges.

As of Dec. 18, there were 16 collectives that were registered with the city:

“The black market has gotten a lot bigger in San Jose because of the limited amount of products provided at these business that are left.”

One of the three petitions, the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act, would establish a commission to oversee and enforce cannabis use across the state, either by an independent group or through the state legislature, said proponent John Lee.

The petition states that the MCLR Act would limit an excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales to 15 percent.

Lee, director of Americans for Policy Reform, said the petition needs more than 365,000 from registered voters in the state to qualify for the November election.

Organizers of the other petition, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative, have a goal of collecting 600,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

CCHI would legalize marijuana with no tax for medical uses and cap excise taxes on commercial sales to 10 percent, said area coordinator Paul Tarver.

Legalizing marijuana would open up industrial opportunities including food, gasoline, clothing and energy production, Tarver said.