Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jan 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Page: A7
Copyright: 2010 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy, Reporting from Sacramento
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Assembly Committee Approves a Measure to Tax Marijuana, but It Is 
Likely to Languish Until Next Year.

A proposal to legalize and tax marijuana in California was approved 
by a key committee of the Assembly on Tuesday, but it is not expected 
to get further consideration by the Legislature until next year.

Despite a procedural glitch, backers hailed the committee's action as 
historic because it represented the first legislative approval of the proposal.

"This vote marks the formal beginning of the end of marijuana 
prohibition in the United States," predicted Stephen Gutwillig, 
California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a pot 
legalization group.

The legislation would allow those who are at least 21 years old to 
possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. 
Assemblyman  (D-San Francisco), author of the measure, said it would 
provide needed revenue for the state as well as regulation of the drug.

Existing law "is harming our youth," Ammiano said. "Drug dealers do 
not ask for ID."

It is estimated that the proposed $50 tax on each ounce of marijuana 
sold, along with license fees charged to cultivators, would generate 
$1.3 billion a year to be used to pay for drug education and treatment.

Ammiano said his bill is not expected to get a required hearing by a 
second committee in time to meet a Friday deadline. He said he plans 
to reintroduce the legislation if a similar initiative proposed for 
the November ballot is not approved by voters.

The anticipated revenue would not be worth the grief the bill would 
cause, said Assemblyman Danny Gilmore (R-Hanford), a former assistant 
chief with the California Highway Patrol.

"We're going to legalize marijuana, we're going to tax it and then 
we're going to educate our kids about the harm of drugs. You've got 
to be kidding me," Gilmore said. "What's next? Are we going to 
legalize methamphetamines, cocaine?"

The Assembly Public Safety Committee approved Ammiano's bill, AB 390, 
on a 4-3 vote. 
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