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Will Taxing Marijuana Help Fix the State Budget? One Politician Thinks So

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Tom Ammiano at a different event | Photo by bkusler via Flickr


Tom Ammiano at a different event | Photo by bkusler via Flickr
"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate 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", said San Francisco Assemblymember Tom Ammiano in a press conference today, whichSFist described as a "media circus." Ammiano continued to say "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 drug would still be illegal under federal law, but if passed, the Marijuana Control Regulation and Education Act would tax $50 per ounce. You would also need to be over the age of 21. Full presser is below.

AMMIANO PROPOSES BILL TO TAX AND REGULATE MARIJUANA Legislation Would Generate $1 Billion in New Revenue for CA San Francisco, CA - Today Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco)
announced the introduction of groundbreaking 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
towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This
legislation would generate 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", said
Ammiano. "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."

Having just closed a $42 billion budget deficit, generating new
revenue is crucial to the state's long term fiscal health. Board of
Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee said, "This common sense measure
effectively prioritizes state resources during these times of fiscal
constraint. Prioritizing law enforcement to control the most serious
drugs while raising new revenues from casual marijuana use directed to
treating serious drug addiction is a prudent use of limited
resources."

"I support this legislation because I feel this issue should be the
subject of legislative and public debate," said current San Francisco
Sheriff Mike Hennessey. Orange County Superior Court Judge (retired)
James P. Gray added, "Assemblymember Ammiano is to be applauded in
addressing this critical issue honestly and directly."

"Marijuana already plays a huge role in the California economy. It's a
revenue opportunity we quite simply can't afford to ignore any
longer," said Stephen Gutwillig, California state director for the
Drug Policy Alliance. "It's time to end the charade of marijuana
prohibition, regulate the $14 billion market, and redirect law
enforcement resources to more important matters. Assemblymember
Ammiano has done the state an enormous service by breaking the silence
on this commonsense solution."

"It is simply nonsensical that California's largest agricultural
industry is completely unregulated and untaxed," said Marijuana Policy
Project California policy director Aaron Smith. "With our state in an
ongoing fiscal crisis -- and no one believes the new budget is the end
of California's financial woes -- it's time to bring this major piece
of our economy into the light of day."