A small but determined coalition of San Francisco Bay Area activists and politicos are on a mission to have California be the first state to legalize, regulate, and tax the use of marijuana – and they’re approaching that goal from several different angles, the Sacramento Bee reports. The groups are building on the foundation that the state’s 1996 approval of its medical marijuana initiative.
A whole section of Oakland’s downtown has willingly taken on the nickname “Oaksterdam” (a play on the name of Amsterdam, where pot use has been legal since the early 1970s) because of its array of dispensaries and marijuana-related products and services. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said a political sea change began last year, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal drug officers no longer would target the operators or customers of legitimate medical pot dispensaries. Then an April 2009 Field Poll showed that 56 percent of Californians support full legalization, regulation and taxation of the drug. “That decision plus the Field Poll has had a dramatic impact on how we look at pot in California these days,” said Kaplan.