In light of the state fiscal crisis, one California assemblyman has proposed legalizing marijuana in California and taxing it, just like alcohol. Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco, introduced Assembly Bill 390 Feb. 23, which would effectively legalize the weed for recreational use for anyone over 21. Ammiano estimated the state could reap $1 billion in new tax revenues every year from marijuana crops. The bill is currently in a 30-day review period before it goes to committee.
As a former San Francisco supervisor, Ammiano pushed to make marijuana a low priority for cops in the city and has supported the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area. While medical marijuana has proven to be a messy proposition in California, with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration busting dispensaries, a spokesman for Ammiano, Quintin Mecke, said they hope for less federal interference under the Obama Administration.
“We’re counting on a different dynamic with a new administration,” Macke said.
California’s annual illegal marijuana crop is estimated to be worth $14 billion dollars, according to the Drug Policy Alliance Network, a group that favors legalizing marijuana. At $14 billion, pot would be the most valuable cash crop in agriculture-rich California.