California lawmakers today are holding a hearing on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, in what would be the first such law in the U.S., the New York Times reports. Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is open to a “robust debate” on the issue.
California voters are also taking up legalization. Three separate initiatives are being circulated for signatures to appear on the 2010 ballot that would permit adults to possess marijuana for personal use and allow local governments to tax it. Even opponents suggest that an initiative is likely to qualify for a statewide vote. “All of us in the movement have had the feeling that we've been running into the wind for years,” said James P. Gray, a retired judge who has been outspoken in support of legalization. “Now we sense we are running with the wind.”