LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Backers of an initiative that would legalize marijuana have received permission to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced.

What backers have dubbed the Responsible Use Act of 2016 would legalize marijuana possession, production, cultivation, transportation, manufacture, processing, and sale. It would also create a board to license and regulate the marijuana industry.

The initiative would also establish procedures for release or resentencing of people convicted of marijuana offenses and establish procedures for erasing records of these convictions.

The initiative would imposes a excise tax on marijuana of $8 per ounce of dried marijuana, 20 cents per gallon of liquid marijuana-infused products, or $1 per gram of concentrated marijuana. It would permit voters to approve local taxes on marijuana sales, up to 2 percent of the retail price.

Medical marijuana would be exempt from all taxation. Local regulation of marijuana would be limited.

Passage of the initiative would result in 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 made by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.

The analysis also found passage would generate net additional state and local tax revenues of potentially up to several hundred million dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, a portion of which would be required to be spent on drug education and counseling services, water supply and quality projects, research related to the medical use of marijuana and regulation of commercial marijuana activities.

Valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by Dec. 23 to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot, according to Padilla.

The initiative is the third to legalize marijuana that has been cleared for signature-gathering in less than a week.

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