Can Marijuana Help Rescue California's Economy?

Can Marijuana Help Rescue California's Economy?
Posted by CN Staff on March 13, 2009 at 05:48:00 PT
By Alison Stateman, Los Angeles
Source: Time Magazine
California -- Could marijuana be the answer to the economic misery facing California? Democratic State Assembly member Tom Ammiano thinks so. Ammiano introduced legislation last month that would legalize pot and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale  a move that could mean billions for the cash-strapped state. Pot is, after all, California's biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion in annual sales, dwarfing the state's second largest agricultural commodity  milk and cream  which brings in $7.3 billion annually, according to the most recent USDA statistics. The state's tax collectors estimate the bill would bring in about $1.3 billion in much-needed revenue a year, offsetting some of the billions in service cuts and spending reductions outlined in the recently approved state budget.
"The state of California is in a very, very precipitous economic plight. It's in the toilet," says Ammiano. "It looks very, very bleak, with layoffs and foreclosures and schools closing or trying to operate four days a week. We have one of the highest rates of unemployment we've ever had. With any revenue ideas people say you have to think outside of the box, you have to be creative, and I feel that the issue of the decriminalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana fits that bill. It's not new, the idea has been around, and the political will may in fact be there to make something happen." See pictures from stoner cinema. --,29307,1829393,00.htmlAmmiano may be right. A few days after he introduced the bill, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that states should be able to make their own rules on medical marijuana and that federal raids on pot dispensaries in California would cease. The move signaled a softening of the hard-line approach previous administrations have had to medicinal pot use. The nomination of Gil Kerlikowske as the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy may also signal a softer federal line on marijuana. If he is confirmed as the so-called Drug Czar, Kerlikowske will bring with him experience as police chief of Seattle, where he made it clear that going after people for posessing marijuana was not a priority of his force.California was one of the first states in the nation to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Currently, $200 million in medical marijuana sales are subject to sales tax. If passed, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act (AB 390) would give California control of pot in a manner similar to alcohol, while prohibiting its purchase to citizens under age 21. (The bill has been referred to the California State Assembly's Public Safety and Health Committees; Ammiano says it could take up to a year before it comes to a vote for passage.) State revenues would be derived from a $50 per ounce levy on retail sales of marijuana and sales taxes. By adopting the law, California could become a model for other states. As Ammiano put it: "How California goes, the country goes."Despite the projected and much-needed revenue, opponents say legalizing pot will only add to social woes. "The last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized," says John Lovell, lobbyist for the California Peace Officers' Association. "We have enough problems with alcohol and abuse of pharmaceutical products: do we really need to add yet another mind-altering substance to the array?" Lovell says the easy availability of the drug will lead to a surge in its use, much like what happened when alcohol was allowed to be sold in venues other than liquor stores in some states.Joel W. Hay, professor of Pharmaceutical Economics at USC, also foresees harm if the bill passes. "Marijuana is a drug that clouds people's judgment. It affects their ability to concentrate and react and it certainly has impacts on third parties," says Hay, who has written on the societal costs of drug abuse. "It's one more drug that will add to the toll on society. All we have to do is look at the two legalized drugs, tobacco and alcohol, and look at the carnage that they've caused. [Marijuana] is a dangerous drug and it causes bad outcomes for both the people who use it and for the people who are in their way at work or other activities." He adds: "There are probably some responsible people who can handle marijuana but there are lots of people who can't, and it has an enormous negative impact on them, their family and loved ones."In response, retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray, a longtime proponent of legalization, estimates that legalizing pot and thus ceasing to arrest, prosecute and imprison non-violent offenders could save the state an additional $1 billion a year. "We couldn't make this drug any more available if we tried," he says. "Not only do we have those problems, along with glamorizing it by making it illegal, but we also have the crime and corruption that go along with it." He adds, "Unfortunately, every society in the history of mankind has had some form of mind-altering, sometimes addictive substances to use, to misuse, abuse or get addicted to. Get used to it. They're here to stay. So, let's try to reduce those harms and right now we couldn't do it worse if we tried."Source: Time Magazine (US)Author:  Alison Stateman, Los Angeles Published: Friday, March 13, 2009Copyright: 2009 Time Inc.Contact: letters time.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #7 posted by Vincent on March 15, 2009 at 08:21:34 PT:
 Legalized Marijuana in California
Good morning folks, I just read this article and I see that we have a new fool to add to the list. I'm not talking about that numbskull, John Lovell--he's a pi--I mean cop, so his opposition to legalization is very predictable. I'm talking about that other misanthrope, "Professor" Joel W. Hay of USC. He believes that Marijuana "clouds people's judgement". Really? I believe that the "professor's" judgement is clouded. Then he comes out his face with "there are probably some people that can handle" smoking herb, but that "many" cannot! Where did he get those "statistics"? What a jackass.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by Lucas on March 14, 2009 at 09:35:53 PT
Ammiano's bill is fake
> Ammiano introduced legislation last month that would legalize pot and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale  a move that could mean billions for the cash-strapped state.why does nobody highlight the fact that the Ammiano bill ONLY takes effect AFTER the Federal Government LEGALIZES?imnsho Ammiano is fronting a bill that will NEVER happen.. is a fakeout, like Marinol is a placeholder to prevent other options.Lucas
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on March 13, 2009 at 12:01:49 PT
so telling 
the two people against it are reps from the police and Big Pharma. No surprise there. One wants the govt welfare paychecks to continue, the other wants the beat-down of its competitors to continue
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 13, 2009 at 07:48:49 PT
Off Topic: News Article From Alternet
Concern Grows in the U.S. That the Drug War Is Destablizing MexicoMarch 13, 2009Excerpt: Two House committees will hold hearings today, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has scheduled a Senate hearing for Tuesday to determine how to respond. Ideas range from building a stronger border fence to decriminalizing marijuana.URL:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on March 13, 2009 at 07:43:46 PT
Morning Motivational
Wake Me Up Inside (Crank It):
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by runruff on March 13, 2009 at 06:52:05 PT
When God created man!
There are little creations like Lovell running around. You see when god created some people he was a little low on raw materials so when building some heads he used a little more pine than he did on most others. That is how we got so many knot heads!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by runruff on March 13, 2009 at 06:46:20 PT
Hey brainchild!!!
"Lovell says the easy availability of the drug will lead to a surge in its use,...."Hey knot head, It's the number one cash crop. Who is not getting any? This does not even address the issue of millions of tons coming over the boarder.If Lovell can't score a bag, maybe he is standing on the wrong street corner? No sorry, every street corner has a bag for sale. Maybe he ask the wrong question? He sure has the wrong answer!Lovell,-[on the street corner], Hey you dirty little punk, do you have any of that mind altering, addicting, debilitating, addictive drug called the devil's weed? I'd like to buy some!Hee hee, no wonder he thinks it is hard to get!
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment