|Graphic: S.F. Weekly
|California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano: Leading the charge for legalization
California’s landmark marijuana legalization bill, AB 390, was approved 4-3 by a committee of the State Assembly on Tuesday. This is the first time in United States history that a state legislature has ever passed — or even considered — a proposal to make marijuana legal, taxed, and regulated.
Authored by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-S.F.), the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee, which Ammiano chairs.
“This historic vote marks the formal beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Making marijuana legal has now entered the public dialogue in a credible way.”
“Decades of wasteful, punitive, racist marijuana policy have taken quite a toll in this country,” Gutwillig said. “The Public Safety Committee had demonstrated that serious people take ending marijuana prohibition seriously.”
Reflecting a broader national momentum toward marijuana legalization, Washington state’s Legislature will consider a similar bill
In California, where 56 percent of the public supports reconsidering marijuana prohibition, proponents of an initiative to tax and regulate marijuana have recently gathered enough signatures to place it on the general election ballot this year.
A.B. 390 will not progress any further this year due to the constraints of the legislative calendar but advocates praised today’s vote as a major milestone in ongoing efforts to end marijuana prohibition.
“Today’s vote should give voters confidence that California’s failed and unjust war on marijuana consumers will soon come to an end,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who testified before the committee.
“It’s an encouraging sign that most members of the committee presiding over the state’s penal code have voted to toss marijuana prohibition onto the ash heap of history,” Smith said.
“While actually passing a bill to tax and regulate marijuana may be a heavy lift in any state legislature right now, members of the Assembly today reflected the sentiment of a majority of Californians,” said the DPA’s Gutwillig. “Voters will get a chance to decide if California should tax and regulate marijuana at the ballot box in November.”