CA Could Be First State to Legalize Marijuana Possession

California legislators are holding a hearing today on legalizing and taxing marijuana for personal use. Should they decide against it, voters may still get the final word: three initiatives are expected to garner the necessary amount of signatures to make it to the ballot.

Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year, and though the bill’s fate in the Legislature is uncertain, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would be open to a “robust debate” on the issue.

What are the chances? [More...]

Richard Lee, a longtime marijuana activist who is behind the measure, says he has raised nearly $1 million to hire professionals to assist volunteers in gathering the signatures.

“Voters are ripping the petitions out of our hands,” Mr. Lee said.

Law enforcement groups are fighting to keep pot illegal. But, they recognize it will likely be a ballot issue. And attitudes are changing. The question may be, how many voters will come around to this point of view:

Personally I don’t see a way of getting it under control other than legalizing it and taxing it,” said Jim Quinn, 60, a production manager. “We’ve got to get it out of the hands of criminals both domestic and international.”

Or, how many already share this point of view?

“For a lot of people....it’s just another brand of beer.”

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  • Display: Sort:
    Maybe will become legal in CA. (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:06:14 AM EST
    But not to feds.  

    Tough to tax (none / 0) (#2)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:09:56 AM EST

    This is going to be tough to tax.  The stuff is just too easy to grow.  While there will be some tax revenue, the bigger savings may come from in reduced lessened enforcement costs.

    My friend.... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Dadler on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:22:20 AM EST
    ...beer is legal, and you can make your own at home just as easily as you can grow pot. more easily in fact. we think it quaint when we can drink some home brew at a party.

    there is, simply, a wholly irrational prejudice against this plant that makes no sense.

    just as when they complain that, oh, those dispenseries are making a profit, how evil to take advantage of people who need medicine. Well, what the phuck do you think pharmaceutical companies do.

    This moronic prejudice must end.

    And it is, make no mistake, moronic to the highest degree, and lacking entirely even an ounce of logic.


    Dadler, I disagree, based on my experience (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 12:29:35 PM EST
    with growing pot and brewed beer.

    Growing weed is dead easy compared to brewing beer - brewing beer takes a lot more expense and equipment and pita work, and is really easy to screw up.

    I also don't think CA will bring in anywhere near the 1.4B in pie-in-the-sky taxes guesstimate.

    And this is from someone who, as a direct result of you and kdog and a few other TL characters, now supports legalizing pot.


    Wore you down did we... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 01:17:24 PM EST
    that's cool:)...and I should thank you as well for reducing my knucklehead factor by roughly 10% over the years with your reasoned debate and hall-of-fame bs detector.

    I'm not a big fan of weed, (none / 0) (#12)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 03:39:07 PM EST
    it makes me thickheaded, nonsocial and way too self-aware.

    But I see no reason for anyone to go to jail for smoking the stuff.


    You might align with.... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 03:44:31 PM EST
    PJ O'Rourke's position then....

    "Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?"

    You read PJ? (none / 0) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 04:06:38 PM EST
    He's a funny sumb*tch.

    He's the man.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 04:32:44 PM EST
    really liked "Parliament of Whores".

    Me too. Classic. (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 04:38:40 PM EST
    No one (none / 0) (#19)
    by Patrick on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 05:22:45 PM EST
    goes to jail simply for smoking pot in California now.   If these measures pass, California will become like Mendocino County did, writ large.  

    True enough, (none / 0) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 11:58:30 PM EST
    effectively no one does go to jail in CA for possession.

    Fair point.


    It's not just going to jail (none / 0) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 01:47:12 AM EST
    it's the hassle and consequences of being arrested -- including getting a criminal record. From the NY Times article:

    Last year, the state made some 78,500 arrests on felony and misdemeanors related to the drug, up from about 74,000 in 2007, according to the California attorney general.

    I disagree... (none / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 02:26:33 PM EST
    ...with your disagreement based on my experience as a home brewer.  

    Easy, straight forward and excellent results.  If you can follow a recipe and can keep a sanitary work area and equipment, it's not hard at all to brew beer--or wine or mead.


    Ticky tacky perfectionist work and with beer's low alc and high ph, there's plenty of opportunity for nasties to grow in your brew.

    Wine has a much lower ph and much higher alc which makes it much more forgiving, sanitation and cooties-wise.

    Growing weed's easier yet. At least it was when we tried it in college...


    Different strokes I guess. (none / 0) (#24)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 09:29:30 PM EST
    My black thumb makes growing anything an epic struggle.  The perfectionist Scorpio in me, however, enjoys the detail work of fermenting tasty beverages.  

    Never underestimate... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:15:24 AM EST
    American laziness...sure, there will be hobby growers just as there are hobby tomato growers...but the lion share of stoners will buy taxed reefer...besides, it's easy to grow but not so easy to grow the best stuff.

    How (none / 0) (#3)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:11:39 AM EST
    do you tax something you can grow? And if the Feds are still 'interested' but unlikely to go after individual users, won't that discourage commercial growers who could be taxed.
    I'm all for it but unless the Feds are hands-off officially it would be risky to grow commercially.

    So how could it be taxed so the State actually sees a benefit?

    easy (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by CST on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:19:53 AM EST
    same way some states tax food.  I could grow my own tomatoes and peppers, but I don't.

    Your point about the Feds is a good one.  I am not sure how this is do-able on a state level.


    It would be a great step. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Joelarama on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 10:51:40 AM EST
    Frankly, they should legalize and regulate all drugs.

    I can't help thinking that, if this passes, California voters are in favor of the right to toke, but not the right to marriage equality.  It's fits the East Coast caricature of the clueless, frivolous Californian.

    Slightly OT, but.... (none / 0) (#16)
    by desertswine on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 04:34:30 PM EST
    Montana issues first hemp license.

    Good luck to these people. Maybe we'll have a new/old way of making a living. If the Feds don't get in the way.

    The Best Thing About Legalizing Pot in CA (none / 0) (#18)
    by kaleidescope on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 04:52:30 PM EST
    It will make wingnut heads explode everywhere.  Other than that, it is, basically, already legal for most people.  For Prop 215 purposes, my doctor recommended that I use marijuana to help deal with occasional insomnia.  Which means that if you can afford to buy marijuana (currently about $2,500 a pound) you can afford to pay a doctor $150 for a consultation, which then allows you to grow your own legally.

    I will happily sign a petition and vote to legalize it.  But it won't make a whit of difference in my life.

    If they do legalize it, (none / 0) (#20)
    by lentinel on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 05:44:19 PM EST
    California will become a vacation paradise.
    It will be the North American Amsterdam.
    Las Vegas on the Pacific.

    When other States see the money rolling in, it will only be a matter of time.

    they can have it (none / 0) (#21)
    by diogenes on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 07:59:32 PM EST
    All the unemployed and underemployed potheads will leave my state and move there.  No great loss.  

    Things that make you go hmmmmmm... (none / 0) (#25)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 09:44:17 PM EST
    Tom Tancredo has never inhaled. In fact, he's never even tried pot. So when he says that marijuana should be legalized, there's no need to ask what he's been smoking.

    Legalizing marijuana might seem an unlikely crusade for the controversial former congressman whose campaign against illegal immigration inspired a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but it's no pipe dream for Tancredo. "A lot of what pushed me into this position was watching what happened on the border," he explains. "The issue of violence that surrounds it -- not just on the border -- and the crime all over the place. The number of people in prison and the amount we spend to keep them there. The broken families."

    When you add it all up, "when you put all the stuff on the scales" -- so to speak -- "there's no question," he says. "It tips automatically to the legalization side."

    When Tom freaking Tancredo thinks legalization is a good thing, it makes me wonder how long the prohabitionists can hold out.