Bill Would Legalize, Tax Marijuana In California

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Posted by CN Staff on February 23, 2009 at 13:00:07 PT
By Jim Sanders
Source: Sacramento Bee

cannabis Sacramento, CA — California may be going to pot – literally. Marijuana would be grown and sold openly to adults 21 and older under legislation introduced this morning by a San Francisco lawmaker.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said the cash-starved state could generate more than a billion dollars by taxing pot growers and sellers. Ammiano predicted that the public would support loosening marijuana laws that require substantial public funds to enforce.

“I think there’s a mentality throughout the state and the country that this isn’t the highest priority,” he said. “And that maybe we should start to reassess.”

Before California could legalize marijuana, however, it also might have to persuade the federal government to alter its prohibition on cannabis.

Ammiano said federal officials may be receptive to such changes under the administration of President Barack Obama.

“We may be on a parallel track here,” said Ammiano, a freshman legislator who was sworn into office less than three months ago.

The Drug Policy Alliance, an advocate of loosening pot laws, applauded Ammiano’s proposal.

“Marijuana already plays a huge role in the California economy,” said Stephen Gutwillig, the group’s California state director. “It’s a revenue opportunity we literally can’t afford to ignore any longer.”

Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, said legalizing marijuana would be a bad idea. He said he considers pot a “gateway drug” from which many users graduate to harder and more dangerous substances.

“I don’t think we’re particularly well served in our society to further accommodate or even encourage something that’s going to be unproductive and damaging to the individual — especially not for the reason of generating revenue,” he said.

Ammiano’s bill, Assembly Bill 390, would allow marijuana to be sold openly – like alcohol – in retail outlets statewide.

The state would gain by charging sellers a fee of $50 per ounce. Pot growers also would be charged under the measure.

Snipped

Complete Article: http://www.sacbee.com/breaking/story/1646399.html

Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Author: Jim Sanders
Published: February 23, 2009
Copyright: 2009 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: opinion@sacbee.com
Website: http://www.sacbee.com/

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