Will California legalize marijuana in 2016?

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@ newsreview.com.

Please, please, please tell me that California is gonna be the next state to legalize weed. Can it happen?

—California Cannabis Crusader

No one really knows. It’s like California is losing its status as a groundbreaking state. Legalize weed? Hell, we can’t even legalize gay marriage.

Who knows what the future has in store? Amanda Reiman does. Check her bio at www.drugpolicy.org: She is the California policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance and leads the DPA’s marijuana reform work in California. So, she’s awesome. I sent her your question, and she sent this back:

“There has not been a decision made about 2014 vs. 2016,” she wrote, but added that, in her opinion, it makes more sense to put an initiative on the ballot in 2016 for two reasons: One, “2016 is a presidential election year, which brings out more of the youth vote we need,” and two, “it gives us longer to strategize, see what the Feds do about [Colorado] and [Washington state], and see what the outcomes are in terms of public health, revenue, etc.”

She did say, however, that she does not think the Golden State will be the next to tax and regulate marijuana. “I think a state like Maine or Rhode Island, where they could introduce and pass a bill through the legislature, will happen before California,” she wrote. “But that’s OK. The more states that do it, the harder it is for the Feds to stop it, and the more we will know about how to write the best initiative possible for [California].

“If people are looking to do something right now, they can start educating their friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc., about marijuana, but also about prohibition and its negative impact on young people and society.”

So, there you have it. We have four years to get it done. Start now, stoners. Start talking to people and organizing your friends; show up at city-council meetings and go to court support and stuff. Let’s legalize weed in 2016.

What’s up at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland? Are they gonna have to close?

—Oaktown 420

Not yet. On Friday, November 30, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo quashed an eviction proceeding initiated by the Harborside’s landlord. Judge Grillo dismissed the action, which was undertaken in response to pressure placed on the landlord by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, on the grounds that California courts cannot evict state-legal medical-cannabis dispensaries simply because they are breaking federal cannabis laws.

And while this is good news, the battle is not yet won. Don Duncan, California director at Americans for Safe Access had this to say: “It’s really great that state court is upholding state law, but federal interference is still a threat to patients’ access to medical marijuana.”

Harborside’s fate is still up in the air, but the tide is clearly shifting toward more cannabis freedom. Fight on.