Pubdate: Wed, 10 Feb 2010
Source: State Hornet, The (CA State, Sacramento, Edu)
Copyright: 2010 State Hornet
Author: Julia Baum


The first of three initiatives to fully legalize  marijuana use in 
California went up in smoke on Jan.  15, 2010.

Written by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Assembly Bill 390  would have 
legalized marijuana use and sales for adults  21 years or older and 
imposed a $50 per ounce tax for  drug education and rehabilitation.

Opponents of AB 390 cheered the failure as a victory  for the safety 
of our state's children, but proponents  of the bill still intend to 
bring the issue to the  November election ballot.

I honestly could not be any happier that AB 390 has  failed for now. 
This would not be an unusual thing to  say if I didn't ever smoke 
pot, but that isn't the  case. I enjoy pot; it's one of life's simple 
pleasures.  So why, am I happy to see AB 390 fail?

Because we don't need it. Pot already is legal in  California, albeit 
thinly veiled courtesy of the  Compassionate Use Act of 1996, also 
known as  Proposition 215. I fail to see why anyone would want 
to  pay an extra $50 per ounce toward a system that will  likely 
squander it under the guise of drug education  and rehabilitation 
programs, instead of going into the  state's general fund where it 
might actually be put  toward for something useful. The medical 
marijuana system has already been assaulted by the imposition of  sales taxes.

Dennis Peron, one of the co-authors of Prop 215,  drafted it with the 
intention of making marijuana  accessible to basically anyone. Anyone 
that is 18 years  or older can go see a doctor and get a medical 
marijuana recommendation for pretty much anything.

Peron said the war on marijuana should have already  ended when Prop 
215 was passed by voters and shares my  belief that Ammiano, who is 
also a longtime friend of  Peron, needs to refocus his efforts.

"It makes a great headline but doesn't give any real  substantial 
change to California," Peron said. "I think  it's a bad idea because 
you have to pay taxes. It's  feeding the beast."

Aaron Smith, state policy director for the Marijuana  Policy Project, 
said AB 390 would protect the general  public and medical marijuana 
patients even more than  existing laws.

"People who use marijuana and are healthy shouldn't  have to go to 
the doctor and come up with a bogus  excuse to use it legally," Smith 
said. "Most reasonable  people would rather pay taxes than worry 
about going to  jail or losing their job."

But are we the people of California really so naive to  believe the 
federal government would respect the  voters' choice legalizing 
marijuana for recreational  use when we have been endlessly fighting 
the same  battle for 13 years?

Despite the Obama administration's promise to not raid  dispensaries 
that are in full compliance with state and  federal laws, that does 
not mean the DEA's marijuana  tolerance will extend into the realm of 
recreation. A  state appeals court is deliberating whether or not 
dispensaries may be prohibited from operating by the  cities in which 
they seek to operate.

We should not bother creating new marijuana laws when  we can not 
even get our government to respect the ones  that already exist - and 
we certainly should not be  rewarding our government with more money 
to waste when  it can't even pass a budget on time.

Until we can make our government respect the laws we  voted for, AB 
390 will only create a new set of  controversial laws that are just 
as likely to be  challenged or ignored.

But Peron did have a suggestion for Ammiano.

"Tom would do better if he smoked pot," Peron said.  "He's for us, 
but he's not 'us,' and I've never minded  telling him that to his 
face ... Tom, smoke a joint,  y'know so you get it."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart