The state of California is currently in an economic crisis, facing a $42 Billion deficit. Fortunately, California sits on a $14 Billion industry. An crop that brings in more revenue than grapes or vegetables every year. It’s cannabis, and it could bring in over $1 Billion in tax revenue to a state that desperately needs help. Assemblymen Tom Ammiano of San Francisco has introduced legislature to treat cannabis the same way that alcohol is treated. Legal to purchase for people 21 and over. Can California afford to stand on their high horses any longer?
Reporting from Sacramento — Could Cannabis sativa be a salvation for California’s fiscal misfortunes? Can the state get a better budget grip by taxing what some folks toke?
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.
He said it would actually boost public safety, keeping law enforcement focused on more serious crimes while keeping marijuana away from teenagers who can readily purchase black-market pot from peers.
The natural world would benefit, too, from the uprooting of environmentally destructive backcountry pot plantations that denude fragile ecosystems, Ammiano said.
The anti-drug lobbies that seek to keep this revenue away from the state, deny sick people their medicine and limit our freedoms use the same old tired arguments that have been chewed up and spit out countless times over the years. The first place people go to when they don’t have any legitimate argument is children. They can’t convince you with science and they can’t convince you with common sense. They’re going to scare you that your children will be in danger. When I was in high school, pot was much easier to obtain than alcohol. Even still, laws didn’t stop anybody from getting either. Yet alcohol was more difficult to obtain because it put the product in legal establishments that could control who got it and who didn’t. Since pot had no controls on it, it was everywhere.
California already has legalized pot for medicinal purposes. A license, provided by a doctor, is required to visit dispensaries that sell various products that contain cannabis. These include cola, food, pastries and patches. So when people tell you they don’t want it legalized because the smoke is harmful to their lungs, please inform them that smoke is one of many ways to ingest the plant.
There’s just no reason that alcohol and tobacco should be legal but pot shouldn’t be. Especially when the former two don’t have any medicinal benefits. Hopefully our friends in Sacramento will agree.