For the first time ever in a statewide Field Poll, a majority of state voters expressed support for legalizing and taxing marijuana. A poll released last week showed 56 percent of Californians support legalization.
Earlier this year, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education act (AB 390) would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those under 21.
“With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move toward regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate up to $1.3 billion in much needed revenue for the state, restrict access to only those over 21, end the environmental damage to our public lands from illicit crops, and improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to more serious crimes, Ammiano said. “California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana.”
The poll bolstered the call for legalized marijuana that has stirred since Ammiano introduced his legislation and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the government would no longer raid and prosecute legal marijuana medical dispensaries.
“One of the most respected research firms in the country has confirmed other recent polls and our sense of the groundswell that followed the introduction of AB 390 by Assemblymember Ammiano,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Californians are ready to end decades of failed and wasteful marijuana prohibition. Just as we led the nation in the compassionate adoption of medical marijuana, this state will set the standard for common-sense regulation, generating substantial new revenue for California and enhancing public safety.”
Though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he would not sign legislation legalizing marijuana, the state’s ongoing billion-dollar fiscal crisis is making the idea of taxing legal marijuana to raise revenue, while reducing the strains of the grossly overcrowded prisons, more worthy of consideration for other legislators and voters.
“We are seeing a real sea-change in public attitudes; public opinion has reversed itself; this year marks the first time that polls have shown a majority for legalization; the economic crisis is making people question whether it makes sense to spend more money on marijuana prohibition,” said Dale Gieringer of NORML.
Last month a San Francisco supervisor said the time had come for the city to consider legalization as well.
– Article from The Examiner on May 4, 2009.