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California green-lights initiative that’s a conspiracy theorist’s dream

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EnlargeGetty | Joe Amon

Activists in California can now move forward collecting signatures for an expansive ballot initiative that encompasses a world of non-evidence-based and fringe notions, according to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

The initiative would eliminate vaccination requirements for schools and daycares, banish genetically modified organisms, and prohibit basic water treatments with fluoride and chlorine. The initiative would ban more than 300 chemicals, including fire retardants, and it would order the removal of smart meters. These, the initiative claims, are “neither smart nor meters but intermittent samplers, not accurate, not accountable, [that] emit and receive unnecessary radiation.”

The initiative, dubbed the “California Clean Environment” initiative, will create an elected, three-person board to oversee the sweeping regulations and approve new chemicals. Violations under the initiative would be considered up to felony crimes punishable by fines and prison sentences.

As justification for extensive regulation, the initiative claims that GMOs and unspecified contaminants in the environment, food, and vaccines are causing cancers, autism, Parkinson's, and a slew of other diseases.

“We are trying to restore people’s ability to fight for themselves and decide what they should do,” initiative’s author Cheriel Jensen told Patch.com. “These companies that make the chemicals have taken our right to refuse those chemicals away.”

The initiative states that “nothing may be introduced into people, commerce, or the environment if it causes or increases the probability of one or more of the following in people, mammals, birds, bees, other beneficial insects, or amphibians.”

This is followed by a long list of conditions and diseases spanning death, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The list also hits allergies, interference with sleep, loss of productivity of the soil, and a die-off of intestinal bacteria.

With the state authorization, Jensen is now clear to start collecting signatures to get the initiative on the ballot this November. She'll need to collect valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters—five percent of the total votes cast for Governor in the November 2014 general election—in order to qualify. She has until August 8 to do so.

California already has some of the strictest environmental measures in the country, and the state has previously rejected even labeling GMOs in foods. Still, the initiative may find a foothold with the anti-vaccine and vaccine-hesitant crowd. In 2016, California implemented a law that clamped down on personal belief exemptions for required vaccines in school-aged children, which riled opponents. Many have vowed to overturn the law, which this initiative would do, among many other things.

An initial assessment by California’s Legislative Analyst's Office and Department of Finance determined that, if the measure passes, it would “result in a substantial net change in state and local finances.”

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