Wednesday, January 13, 2010

California Assembly committee OKs Bill to Legalize Marijuana

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles times reported that The California Public Safety committee approved a proposal to legalize and tax marijuana in California by a 4-3 vote. It is estimated that the bill would generate $1.3 billion a year for the state of California via taxes and marijuana cultivation fees.

AB 390 was introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco, who said the bill would help regulate the drug and also provide tax revenue for the state. The new law includes a requirement that users be at least 21 years of age.

The measure will next go to the Health Committee. Proponents were worried that it would not be acted on by the panel's Friday deadline (January 15, 2010). If it is not acted on by that date, it will need to be reintroduced later this year to be heard by the full assembly.

Ammiano made the case that current marjiuana laws are not helping the state: "The way it exists now is harming our youth - drug dealers do not ask for ID. We need to regulaate something that has gone chaotic, has resulted in carnage."

A contrasting perspective came from Republican Danny Gilmore (Hanford). Gilmore, a former commander for the California Highway Patrol, believes the $50 tax on each ounce of marijuana (to pay for drug education and treatment) is not worth the problems that legalization will cause.

The measure was also opposed in testimony by several police chiefs and law enforcement officials who theorized it would lead to an increase in crime.

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