Taking the next step for California

Click here to read the full article by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano.

“We can set an example for the nation as we did on medical marijuana by passing the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 in November

What if California could raise hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue to preserve vital state services without any tax increases? And what if at the same time, we could, without any new expense, help protect our endangered wilderness areas while making it harder for our kids to get drugs?

That is precisely what the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 initiative slated for the November ballot would do. This measure, building off the legislation I introduced last year, is the logical next step in California’s and hopefully the nation’s public policy towards marijuana.

The legalization of cannabis would not only address California’s growing economic crisis but, more importantly, would begin a rational public policy discussion about how best to regulate the state’s largest cash crop estimated to be worth roughly $14 billion annually. Placing marijuana under the same regulatory system that now applies to alcohol represents the natural evolution of California’s laws and is in line with recent polls indicating strong support for decriminalizing marijuana.

To understand the movement behind legalization, it is helpful to understand how we got here. The state first prohibited marijuana in 1913. When Congress later passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, marijuana was temporarily labeled a “Schedule I substance”—an illegal drug with no approved medical purposes.

But Congress acknowledged they did not know enough about marijuana to permanently classify it to Schedule I, so a presidential commission was created to review the research. In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse advised Congress to remove criminal penalties on the possession and nonprofit distribution of marijuana.

“Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety,” concluded the commission, led by then-Governor Raymond Shafer of Pennsylvania.  President Nixon and Congress ignored the report. Since then, more than 14 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges and marijuana has remained listed as a Schedule I substance—actually treated by federal law as more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine…”

Click here to read the full article by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano.


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