|Graphic: Cannabis Culture|
|Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has reintroduced a bill to legalize marijuana in California|
A bill to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol was reintroduced today in the California Assembly.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) reintroduced the legislation, A.B. 2254, which would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for alcoholic beverages. The bill would permit taxed sales to adults, while prohibiting sales to or possession by those under 21.
Marijuana is California’s largest cash crop, with an estimated value of $14 billion in 2006, nearly twice the combined value of the state’s number two and three crops, vegetables and grapes.
|Aaron Smith, MPP: “The fact that California’s largest cash crop continues to go untaxed and unregulated is astounding”|
”The fact that California’s largest cash crop continues to go untaxed and unregulated is astounding, especially in such tough economic times,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
“We once again applaud Assemblyman Ammiano on his dedication and leadership on this issue, and remain optimistic that 2010 is the year California ends its state’s failed marijuana policies,” Smith said.
Advocates are hopeful that AB 2254 will move forward this year through the Health Committee, as the Legislature has yet to hold hearings on the health aspects of legal marijuana.
Recent years have seen mounting evidence that marijuana is safer than previously imagined. For example, that it doesn’t cause lung cancer and is a minor highway safety hazard compared to other, legal drugs.
Meanwhile, the state’s budget crisis remains an important argument for legalization. The Legislative Analyst has estimated that the Ammiano bill would net the state $1.4 billion.
“With California’s prisons overflowing and the budget a mess, it makes no sense for taxpayers to be paying money to arrest, prosecute and imprison pot offenders, when they could be reaping the revenues of a legally regulated market,” said California NORML Director Dale Gieringer.
For Cal NORML’s analysis of the benefits of legalization, see http://www.canorml.org/background/CA_legalization2.html.
California voters are also expected to consider ending marijuana prohibition at the ballot box this year. Backers of the Tax Cannabis 2010 ballot measure submitted almost 700,000 signatures to the Secretary of State last month, and remain confident the initiative will qualify for the November ballot.
The bill Ammiano introduced last year, A.B. 390, passed the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on a 4-3 vote, marking the first time in United States history that a state legislative committee has passed a proposal to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.
The bill did not progress any further due to constraints of the legislative calendar, but was considered a victory in the ongoing efforts to end marijuana prohibition in California and across the United States.