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Old 02-24-2009, 01:06 PM   #1
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Default Marijuana to the rescue - California moves to legalize, tax recreational pot

Taxing pot could become a political toking point

An Assemblyman from San Francisco argues that it's time to tax and regulate the state's biggest cash crop in the same manner as alcohol. Opponents say it would create new costs for society.

By Eric Bailey
February 24, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento -- Could Cannabis sativa be a salvation for California's fiscal misfortunes? Can the state get a better budget grip by taxing what some folks toke?

An assemblyman from San Francisco announced legislation Monday to do just that: make California the first state in the nation to tax and regulate recreational marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.
Buoyed by the widely held belief that cannabis is California's biggest cash crop, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano contends it is time to reap some state revenue from that harvest while putting a damper on drug use by teens, cutting police costs and even helping Mother Nature.

"I know the jokes are going to be coming, but this is not a frivolous issue," said Ammiano, a Democrat elected in November after more than a dozen years as a San Francisco supervisor. "California always takes the lead -- on gay marriage, the sanctuary movement, medical marijuana."

Anti-drug groups are anything but amused by the idea of California collecting a windfall from the leafy herb that remains illegal under federal law.


"This would open another door in Pandora's box," said Calvina Fay, executive director of Save Our Society From Drugs. "Legalizing drugs like this would create a whole new set of costs for society."

Ammiano's measure, AB 390, would essentially replicate the regulatory structure used for beer, wine and hard liquor, with taxed sales barred to anyone under 21.

He said it would actually boost public safety, keeping law enforcement focused on more serious crimes while keeping marijuana away from teenagers who can readily purchase black-market pot from peers.

The natural world would benefit, too, from the uprooting of environmentally destructive backcountry pot plantations that denude fragile ecosystems, Ammiano said.

But the biggest boon might be to the bottom line. By some estimates, California's pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.

"Having just closed a $42-billion budget deficit, generating new revenue is crucial to the state's long-term fiscal health," said Betty Yee, the state Board of Equalization chairwoman who appeared with Ammiano at a San Francisco news conference.

Also in support of opening debate on the issue are San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey and retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray, a longtime legalization proponent.

"I'm a martini guy myself," Ammiano said. "But I think it's time for California to . . . look at this in a truly deliberative fashion."

He sees the possibility of an eventual truce in the marijuana wars with Barack Obama now in the White House.

A White House spokesman declined to discuss Ammiano's legislation, instead pointing to a transition website that says the president "is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana."

Several cities in California and around the nation have adopted laws making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, including Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Denver and Seattle.

Oakland went even further in 2004, requiring pot to be taxed if it is legalized.

But where Ammiano sees taxes, pot foes see trouble.

They say easier access means more problems with drug dependency among adults, heavier teen use and an increase in driving while high.

"If we think the drug cartels are going to tuck their tails between their legs and go home, I think we're badly mistaken," Fay said.

"They're going to heavily target our children."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,7534269.story
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:10 PM   #2
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I have little doubt that California will do this, considering the budget mess they're in. Any money coming in the door will be welcome money.

I'm curious how the Feds will respond.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:12 PM   #3
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About time.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:12 PM   #4
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I'm curious how the Feds will respond.
This falls under the Department of Justice correct? If so, I imagine they won't respond at all, or at least not in any kind of timely matter.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:17 PM   #5
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It won't happen because Arnold will veto it and they won't have enough support to overturn it.

Arnold would not even sign a bill that said medical marijuana patients can't be fired if they have doctors permission to smoke it. No way he signs this bill even if it passed.

I would be very surprised if it passed.

Plus it wouldn't raise revenue the price would drop to really cheap if it was legal. It makes more money for california into the economy by being illegal.

Not to mention feds would probably withhold funds if they did it.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:23 PM   #6
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Didn't this happen on season 3 of "The Wire"?
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:25 PM   #7
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I say go for it. The government, from local municipalities to the feds, have been battling this issue for years and it's not getting better. Prisons and jails are filling up with what I would considere minor offenders, and its not getting better.

Its the casual offenders that make up the bulk of the mari-jah-wana users. It's the guys who smoke some pot on the weekends when they go fishing that are the main consumers (for example).

Its a tough issue all around, but a new way of dealing with it must be adopted. Let Cali take the plunge.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:27 PM   #8
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It won't happen because Arnold will veto it and they won't have enough support to overturn it.

Arnold would not even sign a bill that said medical marijuana patients can't be fired if they have doctors permission to smoke it. No way he signs this bill even if it passed.

I would be very surprised if it passed.

Plus it wouldn't raise revenue the price would drop to really cheap if it was legal. It makes more money for california into the economy by being illegal.

Not to mention feds would probably withhold funds if they did it.
Arnold's state is broke. Flat out broke. Arnold needs money, the state needs money.

It's an interesting delimma.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:33 PM   #9
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Arnold's state is broke. Flat out broke. Arnold needs money, the state needs money.

It's an interesting delimma.
The thing is all the money generated by Californians already supports tons of the states economy. By legalizing the price would drop so far that the state would make less. For one its still illegal everywhere else so no exports really. That money already being spent in the state by the people who grow it and sell it there. They go and spend all that money like little mini stimulus packages every harvest.

Legalizing would drop the price, add to the income tax revenue, but the total amount of money generated would be far less then it is now.

Best thing is decriminalize the small amounts but keep it illegal so the price stays high.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:36 PM   #10
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It won't happen because Arnold will veto it and they won't have enough support to overturn it.

I don't know... Arnold has taken to pan handling on the Sunday shows for other state's money. I don't think he'd refuse the cash stream if it got past the legislature.

Of course, I think his loopy ideas of presidential aspirations cloud his judgement, so it's hard to say what the man will do.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:38 PM   #11
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people aren't seeing the whole picture when they consider only income tax the way an economy can generate revenue. California already reaping the rewards of a huge marijuana industry.

Watch the show Marijuana Nation, I was shocked at how big it already is and how much money govt already making off it. I think they know if they legalize all the way it would actually generate less money for the state overall.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:40 PM   #12
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This falls under the Department of Justice correct? If so, I imagine they won't respond at all, or at least not in any kind of timely matter.
Under the Tenth Amendment the Federal Government has no right to tell California what they can do on this issue within it's borders.

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Old 02-24-2009, 01:40 PM   #13
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I don't know... Arnold has taken to pan handling on the Sunday shows for other state's money. I don't think he'd refuse the cash stream if it got past the legislature.

Of course, I think his loopy ideas of presidential aspirations cloud his judgement, so it's hard to say what the man will do.
I'm telling you people smarter then us probably crunched those numbers, and when they see how cheap weed would be if legal they probably figure its better having it illegal, and getting that money into the economy that way. By dealers and medical shops making a ton of money, spending it in calif, and getting the sales tax. Also those people having money is a boost to the local economies.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:40 PM   #14
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It may be doomed to fail if those idiots in San Fran propose it, as they are the most polarizing bunch of idiots in the nation.

However, a new generation of Americans sees pot as an equivalent alternative to alcohol (maybe even a better alternative), and many have tried it. I would say that its an inevitability until someone from a new generation of politicians proposes the idea and it is supported wholesale.

The reefer madness-esque propaganda doest scare modern citizens of voting age, as most people have used it or know people who have that they respect.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:40 PM   #15
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I have little doubt that California will do this, considering the budget mess they're in. Any money coming in the door will be welcome money.

I'm curious how the Feds will respond.
Did you catch the CNBC special recently? I think it's called Pot Nation or something like that. Basically, Cali is doing well over a billion a year under the table. I can't imagine how much could be produced and sold if legally.

I have severe reservations about it, but I think it's probably the thing to do
It's a gray area much like Alcohol, and people just don't seem to want to live without it.

I don't smoke, but I can understand the appeal. Beyond that, I can't understand the massive resources we put into trying to stop it, and the endless violence related to the illegal trade.

Illegal trade also ****s with the environment in many ways, as well.

I think people might have to put aside their view on the drug itself and look at the bigger picture, here.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:41 PM   #16
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The thing is all the money generated by Californians already supports tons of the states economy. By legalizing the price would drop so far that the state would make less. For one its still illegal everywhere else so no exports really. That money already being spent in the state by the people who grow it and sell it there. They go and spend all that money like little mini stimulus packages every harvest.

Legalizing would drop the price, add to the income tax revenue, but the total amount of money generated would be far less then it is now.

Best thing is decriminalize the small amounts but keep it illegal so the price stays high.
You seem very intent on protecting the revenue stream of smugglers and gangsters.

I don't know where you got your econ degree, but artificially high prices (of anything) will not result in wealth creation--just the opposite.

But, you're so far off base in your economic thinking that I don't think this little technical correction will help you at all.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:42 PM   #17
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Did you catch the CNBC special recently? I think it's called Pot Nation or something like that. Basically, Cali is doing well over a billion a year under the table. I can't imagine how much could be produced and sold if legally.

I have severe reservations about it, but I think it's probably the thing to do
It's a gray area much like Alcohol, and people just don't seem to want to live without it.

I don't smoke, but I can understand the appeal. Beyond that, I can't understand the massive resources we put into trying to stop it, and the endless violence related to the illegal trade.

Illegal trade also ****s with the environment in many ways, as well.

I think people might have to put aside their view on the drug itself and look at the bigger picture, here.
...including the toll that marijuana laws take on our legal system.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:44 PM   #18
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Under the Ten Amendment the Federal Government has no right to tell California what they can do on this issue within it's borders.
They can sure withhold funding to the states though, can't they.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:46 PM   #19
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They can sure withhold funding to the states though, can't they.
And the State can inturn refuse to give them the money in the first place. If we legalize some of these drugs we can get rid a portion of law enforcment and they can go back to investigating real crimes. It decreases part of our prison population as well.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:47 PM   #20
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The thing is all the money generated by Californians already supports tons of the states economy. By legalizing the price would drop so far that the state would make less. For one its still illegal everywhere else so no exports really. That money already being spent in the state by the people who grow it and sell it there. They go and spend all that money like little mini stimulus packages every harvest.

Legalizing would drop the price, add to the income tax revenue, but the total amount of money generated would be far less then it is now.

Best thing is decriminalize the small amounts but keep it illegal so the price stays high.
Good points, very valid.

However, it might become an export to other countries. Also, the hemp industry as a whole could really take off and that could create mega exports in the textiles industry, to food industry and the raw materials (energy) industry.

Ya never know...
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:47 PM   #21
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The thing is all the money generated by Californians already supports tons of the states economy. By legalizing the price would drop so far that the state would make less. For one its still illegal everywhere else so no exports really. That money already being spent in the state by the people who grow it and sell it there. They go and spend all that money like little mini stimulus packages every harvest.

Legalizing would drop the price, add to the income tax revenue, but the total amount of money generated would be far less then it is now.

Best thing is decriminalize the small amounts but keep it illegal so the price stays high.
Even if true, which it isn't necessarily, you are ignoring all the other monetary benefits in terms of SAVED money. Taxpayers would easily save billions in court costs and prison costs. People have no concept of how much money is spent on prosecuting these cases every year. This is hidden revenue and we're not talking chump change here.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:48 PM   #22
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I don't know... Arnold has taken to pan handling on the Sunday shows for other state's money. I don't think he'd refuse the cash stream if it got past the legislature.

Of course, I think his loopy ideas of presidential aspirations cloud his judgement, so it's hard to say what the man will do.
I don't think he can ever become President of the US because he was not born in the USA, which I believe, is a prerequisite(sp?) for the position.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:52 PM   #23
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And the State can inturn refuse to give them the money in the first place.
California doesn't have the backbone to do that.

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If we legalize some of these drugs we can get rid a portion of law enforcment and they can go back to investigating real crimes.
Negative.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #24
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Its pretty much legal here anyway. Just get a prescip and say you have a headache....then go to the weed store
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #25
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I don't think he can ever become President of the US because he was not born in the USA, which I believe, is a prerequisite(sp?) for the position.
He can't without a constitutional amendment
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