These hard economic times could see states looking for new and interesting ways to make ends meet. For a state like California, who is just flat broke, new revenue streams must be explored. On the heels of disclosing that their number one cash crop grown in the state is marijuana, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D- San Francisco) has put forth a bill to decriminalize marijuana in the state.
Assembly Bill 390, or The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, would decriminalize marijuana in the state and allow for it to be bought, regulated, and taxed the same way that the state does alcohol. In the bill, "dealers" would have to pay a start up fee of $5000 and a yearly reinstatement fee of $2500. The dealers would also have to pay a tax of $50 per ounce to pay for marijuana education (read kickbacks and slush funds). The bill will not allow for marijuana consumption to be anywhere near schools or out in public and would not allow for the plants to be grown in public view.
Critics (cough... cough... republicans...) do not understand why exactly the legislators are more worried about banning trans fats and legalizing the ging while not trying to find a way for the state to make ends meet. To his critics, Mr. Ammiano only has this to say:
"I think the mentality throughout the state and the country that this [marijuana] is not the highest priority- and maybe we should start to reassess."
He also talked about the estimated ten billion dollars that the state would generate from the decriminalization and taxation of marijuana (not to mention the saving found in the allocation of funds currently being used to feebly combat marijuana).
And Mr. Ammiano might have a point. A recent Rasmussen poll has 40% of the population favoring the decriminalization of marijuana. And while 46% still favor it staying illegal, that gap is starting to narrow. Couple that with the fact that there are currently in the United States, thirteen states that currently have either decriminalized marijuana or made it the lowest criminal priority as well as fourteen states which authorize it for medicinal use and you have reason to say maybe this is nto that big of a deal to people as it used to be.
To me, this makes perfect sense. Billions of dollars go untaxed every year as the government allows to an underground trade to exist, as millions of otherwise good citizens are forced into illicit behavior in order to light a spliff. Our prison systems are crammed with all sorts of non-violent marijuana offenders, while child touchers are finding their ways back to our neighborhoods. Criminal street gangs, enriched by the illegal trade, wage small scale turf wars in our streets ... making life Hell for Johnny and Susie USA. Would it not be nice if there were more police available... say police who normally work in the narc squad cruising the Taco Bells for people munchin' out? And once the cops find these pricks, would it not just make life easy for everyone if we had cells to hold these clowns? Cells currently being occupied by non-violent marijuana offenders? How many lives have to be ruined because of archaic laws and prohibitions? The banning of alcohol did little to curb the craving for booze in America, but did give the rise to organized criminal groups who profited in their distribution? And =, much like the hooch which can be easily made in the privacy of one's own home, marijuana can be grown as easily as one can grow a tomato- thus making it something that never can truly be completely stomped out. Societies have enjoyed marijuana for years, and it is about time that someone in the California assembly to finally say so publicly.
Don't judge me... I never said I didn't have an agenda...