As widely expected, California’s raucous argument over legalizing marijuana is headed to the ballot, reports the Sacramento Bee. Secretary of State Debra Bowen confirmed yesterday that voters will decide in November whether to legalize and tax marijuana use for Californians 21 and over. The state approved medical use of marijuana in 1996. In 1972, voters roundly rejected a pot-decriminalization measure.
Proponents of the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010” say the measure’s passage could hinge on voters’ acceptance of marijuana’s potential to rescue the state’s beleaguered fiscal coffers. California’s annual pot crop is worth about $14 billion. Legalization and taxation could bring in up to $1.4 billion in revenue. “The perspective of California has shifted since 1972,” said Jeff Jones, co-sponsor of the 2010 initiative. “This (pot legalization) was stigmatized as a flower-power, counterculture issue. But we have people today who don’t believe the hype and fear. A broad, diverse base sees this as a real budget issue.” The measure could bring the state into conflict with federal authorities; U.S. law has prohibited marijuana since 1937.
Read The Crime Report’s Special Report on the marijuana movement.