Legalization of Marijuana in California took its first legit step Wednesday as the California Assembly's Public Safety Committee held a hearing on the legalization of Marijuana bill intended on being presented to the Assembly for debate and a vote in early 2010.
The hearing was over Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill to legalize and tax marijuana in the state of California. According to the bill, anyone over the age of 21 would be allowed to sell, own, and grow marijuana in the state (so long as they followed the state guidelines). The State would collect a proposed tax of $50.00 an ounce from the distribution end. It is speculated that this move could net the State anywhere from several hundreds of millions of dollars to over a billion in new tax revenue (not to mention the new revenue streams created in industries- such as coffee shops, head shops, distribution locations- or the saving of tens of millions in law enforcement dollars spent pursuing harmless marijuana offenders).
The hearing went just as anyone could have guessed it would, with supporters of the measure painting a utopia of marijuana induced bliss following the passage of the measure while proponents of the bill talked of a crime riddled, drug fueled orgy of violence and depravity awaiting the State should it allow for the Bill to pass. Ultimately, the only thing of note that officially came out of the meeting is that it is legal for the State of California to legalize marijuana, but that legalization of the drug does nothing to change the Federal view of the drug thus subjecting users, sellers, and growers to Federal charges (should the Fed decide to do anything about it, which the Obama administration seems to be less than interested in doing so).
Opponents of the measure brought out the full array of scare tactics to the hearing. An official for the California Attorney General's office claimed that legalization would only "empower [the] Mexican Drug Cartels.", alluding to the bloody Cartel war waged on the streets of Mexico over the summer. The president of California's Peace Officer Association went on to add misinformation to the fear campaign stating that whatever revenue produced by taxing marijuana would be "offset by the cost of drug abuse treatment, the costs of people who drive under the influence of the drug or commit other crimes."
[Ed note: No one is going to rehab due to smoking to much weed. No one is getting DUIs for smoking pot. And no one is breaking into houses for drug money or raping white women because of its influence. And for the record, if this was a reason to keep something from being legal, the beer should be outlawed ASAP]
But the hearing wasn't a total shit sandwich of lies and demonization for the Legalization Movement. Retired California Supreme Court Judge Jim Gray attempted to dispel the lies and myths of crime and violence presented by the Prohibition supporters, laying the root of the social ills attached to marijuana at the feet of the State and Federal Prohibitionist policies forcing marijuana into the black market to be regulated and controlled by criminals and sociopaths.
California is expected to vote on Assemblyman Ammiano's Marijuana Legalization Bill sometime in early 2010.