Pubdate: Wed, 13 May 2009
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Seven Days
Copyright: 2009 East Bay Express
Author: Robert Gammon
Note: Relevant part of a longer column.
Referenced: Big Step From Pipe Dreams to Practicality
Bookmark: (Marijuana - California)


While Schwarzenegger Wants to Debate Pot Legalization, Californians 
Are Ready to Do It and the Mainstream Media Lets You Know Where You 
Can Buy Some.

It looks as if marijuana has reached a tipping point. Last week, 
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he welcomed a debate on 
legalizing and taxing pot. And of course, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of 
San Francisco has a bill that would do just that. Ammiano estimates 
that California could reap $1.3 billion a year in marijuana tax 
proceeds. And the governor's surprising comments indicate that he 
wants Ammiano's bill to get a full airing.

So did the former steroid-using bodybuilder and self-admitted pot 
smoker experience have some sort of latent realization? Or is he just 
watching the polls? Because public opinion has definitely shifted. An 
ABC News/Washington Post poll last month that found that 46 percent 
of Americans want to legalize small amounts of pot for personal use. 
And in California, a Field Poll revealed that 56 percent of state 
residents want to make cannabis legal and tax it.

Even the mainstream media is starting to take the question seriously. 
On Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a front-page story that 
essentially asked the question: If pot becomes legal, where can I buy 
some? Not surprisingly, Richard, Lee, president of Oaksterdam 
University in Oakland, thinks California should follow Amsterdam's 
model and allow cafes to sell pot. But that seems a bit limiting. If 
the state is going to reap tax benefits, why not make it available 
wherever alcohol is sold? Or at least require retailers to get a 
license, much like the ones they have for booze. Still, there's this 
thorny question: Who will grow marijuana and sell it to retailers? 
The issue is key, and likely will require some serious regulations, 
because if legal pot becomes a boon for drug dealers, then the 
experiment will fail.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake