California Assemblyman: Legalize Marijuana & Tax It

One California Assemblyman is saying it’s time to consider treating marijuana like alcohol:

An assemblyman from San Francisco announced legislation Monday to do just that: make California the first state in the nation to tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.

Buoyed by the widely held belief that cannabis is California’s biggest cash crop, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano contends it is time to reap some state revenue from that harvest while putting a damper on drug use by teens, cutting police costs and even helping Mother Nature.

“I know the jokes are going to be coming, but this is not a frivolous issue,” said Ammiano, a Democrat elected in November after more than a dozen years as a San Francisco supervisor. “California always takes the lead — on gay marriage, the sanctuary movement, medical marijuana.”

Anti-drug groups are anything but amused by the idea of California collecting a windfall from the leafy herb that remains illegal under federal law.

“This would open another door in Pandora’s box,” said Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs. “Legalizing drugs like this would create a whole new set of costs for society.”

Ammiano’s measure, AB 390, would essentially replicate the regulatory structure used for beer, wine and hard liquor, with taxed sales barred to anyone under 21.

Ammiano also points to a financial benefit to the state from legalization:

[T]he biggest boon might be to the bottom line. By some estimates, California’s pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.

While I’m not a fan of the taxation side of the argument, I also know that it’s an ineviable part of any legalization/decriminalization scheme that would be implemented.

It works for alcohol, why not marijuana ?

H/T: Outside The Beltway

  • inDglass

    He will need the federal government to legalize it or the Supreme Court to change its mind about the constitutionality of enforcing federal drug laws as a part of regulating interstate commerce. A third alternative would be to for California to secede in the name of the right to smoke pot. I kind of like the latter idea best.

  • Quincy

    Holy crap, I agree with Tom Ammiano! In all my life I never thought that would happen.

  • Peter

    With all the oppressive actions coming from the Federal government, I sometimes think it would be nice to secede from the Union. But then I look at my state government (Michigan) and I realize it is not any better. :(

  • agilog

    Get Over It and Get In On It

    There are many well-heeled professionals who smoke pot and probably won’t mind paying a little bit more money if it means losing the criminal status.

    Just because something is legal does not mean the government advocates it, as with alcohol and cigarettes.

  • ellie

    Add huge penalties for ‘smoking and driving’ or ‘public smoking’ to keep it off the streets, and you may have a chance. Added revenue from citations should go directly to law enforcement to fund continued efforts against illegal traffickers