Can Marijuana Help Rescue California's Economy?
Damn it. Happiness. Heart attack. California. Damn. It.Ammiano 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."