The Assembly Public Safety Committee, chaired by San Francisco’s Tom Ammiano, held a hearing on Ammiano’s AB 390 to legalize and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana.
Advocates said legalization and regulation could bring as much as $1.4 billion in state and local excise and sales tax revenue per year; control the drug’s potency; do more to keep it out of children’s hands; and end a centurylong double standard in which alcohol and tobacco – which they say are more harmful – are legal while marijuana isn’t, leading to a war on drugs particularly destructive to people of color.
Law enforcement officials testified the harms caused by marijuana legalization would far outweigh whatever tax revenue it might bring – more, not less, use by children; more people driving under the influence, causing more injuries and deaths; decreased worker productivity that could hurt the economy; and a still-thriving black market. (Bay Area News 10/29/09)
As it stands, it will be a while before there are any where the number of votes necessary to pass this bill. Beyond the majority vote measure to legalize, there is also the 2/3 part of this that would tax. Ammiano would have to convince more than just Democrats to get this thing passed.
Of course, these debates become more of an issue if any of the four measures currently out for signatures gets on the ballot. Polls have consistenly shown support for regulation and taxation of marijuana to be hovering around the 55% mark for about a year now. Once a campaign starts, all bets are off, especially with former Senate President pro tem Don Perata throwing his weight behind one of the measures.