California voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana after initiative proponents turned in more than enough signatures to place the question on the November ballot, reports the AP. A successful vote in California would mean one in every six Americans lives in a state with legal marijuana sales, including the entire West Coast. The initiative—promoted by a well-funded and politically connected coalition spearheaded by former Facebook president Sean Parker—asks voters to allow people 21 and older to buy an ounce of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at licensed retail outlets and also grow up to six pot plants for personal recreational use. Smoking weed would remain off-limits in places where tobacco use already is prohibited, including restaurants and bars.
"Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful, and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal, and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself," a campaign rep says. Sales of both recreational pot and medical marijuana initially would be subject to a 15% excise tax. Cities and counties would retain the right to prohibit pot-related businesses and to impose their own fees and taxes. State officials estimate the measure, which requires a simple majority vote to pass, would raise as much as $1 billion per year in revenue and reduce public safety costs—for police, courts, jails, and prisons—by tens of millions. Proceeds would cover regulatory costs, research on the effects of legalization, environmental mitigation, and substance abuse treatment. (Read more California stories.)