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California won't vote on legal pot until 2016

A cannabis plant.
A cannabis plant.
Ted S. Warren/AP

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California was the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana back in 1996. For a while, it seemed likely that we'd be voting on whether to legalize recreational pot this fall.

But now the LA Times is reporting that effort may be delayed until 2016.

A coalition of leading drug reform groups has decided against pursuing a ballot initiative this year to legalize the adult use of marijuana in California.

Drug Policy Alliance Deputy Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann tells Take Two that even though polling suggests California voters would support such a measure, members of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform want to wait until 2016 so they would have more time to raise money and build public support. His organization has been working to pass drug reform legislation in California and other states.

"We did our best to make it work for this year, but ultimately what we decided over the weekend was we need more time to engage more stakeholders, do more of the kind of legwork they did in Washington State with bringing in law enforcement," said Nadelmann on Take Two. "So we're going to go for 2016." 

The coalition already had the Secretary of State's clearance to circulate petitions for a legalization initiative, but won't proceed in gathering the signatures needed to qualify it for the November ballot.

A different group also has a legalization measure pending, but the coalition led by the Drug Policy Alliance includes politically powerful organizations such as the ACLU, the NAACP and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

With contributions from the Associated Press.