Today the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee approved a bill to legalize and tax marijuana! This marks the first time in US history that a state legislative body considered putting an end to marijuana prohibition!
This morning lawmakers in Sacramento approved Assembly Bill 390—legislation to tax and regulate marijuana by a 4-to-3 vote. AB 390, written by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Amiano, would allow adults over 21 to possess, smoke, and grow weed, essentially treating marijuana the same way alcohol is currently treated under the law. The bill also calls for a $50 per ounce sold fee to be used for funding drug eradication and awareness programs. And, of course supporters of the bill are saying it could raise around $990 million and help pull the severely cash-strapped California out of its budget crisis.
“This is a significant vote today because it legitimizes the quest for debate, the quest for discussion. There was a time when the ‘m’ word never would have been brought up in Sacramento,” Ammiano said. “The way it exists now is harming our youth. Drug dealers do not ask for ID. We need to regulate something that has gone chaotic, has resulted in carnage. I understand it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.”
Next the bill goes to the Health Committee. Supporters of the bill are worried that it would not be acted on by that panel by the imposed Friday deadline. If not acted on by the deadline, the proposal would require reintroduction to be heard this year by the full Assembly.
Since just holding hearings on the bill was a milestone, it seems safe to say that today’s vote marks a departure from drug policy as usual, even if the legislation ultimately fails.
“The mere fact that there will be votes in the Assembly to regulate and control the sale and distribution of marijuana would have been unthinkable even one year ago,” says retired Orange County California Supreme Court Judge Jim Gray via a public statement. “And if the bill doesn’t pass this year, it will soon. Or, the bill will be irrelevant because the voters will have passed the measure to regulate and tax marijuana that will be on the ballot this November.”
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