California voters will have the chance to decide whether to legalize the possession of marijuana after election officials announced Wednesday that the measure will be on the state ballot in November.
If it passes, the Golden State would be the first to legalize marijuana for personal use in the United States. BusinessWeek estimated that about $15 billion in marijuana is sold each year in California.
“This is a watershed moment in the decades-long struggle to end marijuana prohibition in this country,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which has spearheaded the ballot initiative.
Supporters of the measure turned in 694,248 signatures, more than the 433,971 needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot. About one-fifth of the signatures required came from Los Angeles County.
The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 would allow adults over age 21 to carry up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use, which was previously a misdemeanor under California law, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The measure also lets cities and counties adopt ordinances to tax the sale and use of marijuana, creating revenue for communities suffering under the California Budget crisis.
The measure will face proposition, however, as a Field poll shows that only 56 percent of California voters want to legalize marijuana use.
Gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown has spoken out against legalizing marijuana, and has ordered crackdowns on pot dispensaries in the past.