Speaking of Legalization…

by Tim Stelloh, January 13, 2010

Tom Ammiano's pot bill, which would legalize and tax marijuana in California, finally made some headway in Sacramento yesterday--not much, mind you, but enough that there'll no doubt be a robust round of self-congratulations from all parties involved. Via the LA Times:

A proposal to legalize and tax marijuana in California was approved by a key committee of the Assembly on Tuesday, but it is not expected to get further consideration by the Legislature until next year.

Despite a procedural glitch, backers hailed the committee's action as historic because it represented the first legislative approval of the proposal.

"This vote marks the formal beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States," predicted Stephen Gutwillig, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a pot legalization group.

The legislation would allow those who are at least 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), author of the measure, said it would provide needed revenue for the state as well as regulation of the drug.

Existing law "is harming our youth," Ammiano said. "Drug dealers do not ask for ID."

It is estimated that the proposed $50 tax on each ounce of marijuana sold, along with license fees charged to cultivators, would generate $1.3 billion a year to be used to pay for drug education and treatment.

Ammiano said his bill is not expected to get a required hearing by a second committee in time to meet a Friday deadline. He said he plans to reintroduce the legislation if a similar initiative proposed for the November ballot is not approved by voters.

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