Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Forget the hippie highs of secret pot parties and the War on Drugs: The big marijuana industry could be coming to California, complete with taxes, regulation and advertising.

Even some old criminal convictions for marijuana violations could be tossed out after an initiative that would legalize marijuana and hemp and impose taxes on those previously forbidden products qualified for the Nov. 8 state ballot.

If California voters approve the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products would be established in state government. The new law would also prohibit marketing and advertising marijuana to minors.

The initiative authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

The measure, sure to be the center of a hard-fought campaign, would impose a state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15 percent of the sales price and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.

It’s not clear how the pot measure will affect turnout in the November presidential election.

The initiative allows for local regulation and taxation of marijuana and exempts medical marijuana from some taxation.

Passage of the initiative would result in net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders, according to an analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.

The analysis also found passage would result in net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention and treatment.

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its products. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed.

The initiative required valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters – – 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — to qualify for the ballot, Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Tuesday when announcing the measure had qualified for the ballot.

—Staff and wire reports

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