Drug Policy

California Assembly Committee Approves Pot Legalization


Today the California Assembly's Public Safety Committee approved a bill to legalize and tax marijuana by a 4-to-3 vote. The bill, proposed by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), next goes to the Health Committee. Since just holding hearings on the bill was a milestone, it seems safe to say that today's vote marks a departure from drug policy as usual, even if the legislation ultimately fails.

A hearing on a similar bill in Washington state is scheduled for tomorrow.

Update: According to the Marijuana Policy Project, "This is the first time in U.S. history that a bill to tax and regulate marijuana ever made it to a state legislative committee." Too bad that "legislative rules and deadlines are preventing the bill from progressing further"—a fact that may help explain why a majority of the committee felt comfortable voting for legalization.

[Thanks to LEAP's Tom Angell for the tip.]

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  1. It will be a shame if they do not legalize weed, all those people that enjoy it and need it just won’t have access to it should it remain illegal. Oh wait, nevermind, they have plenty of access to it right now anyway. Just LEGALIZE IT ALREADY!! Anyone who says pot is worse than alcohol is a fool with their head so far up their ass it is never coming out. It is a FUCKING PLANT and you politicians actually have the gall nay the audacity to think you can outlaw it? Asking for that is like asking for honest politicians, NEVER going to happen.

    1. It is a FUCKING PLANT and you politicians actually have the gall nay the audacity to think you can outlaw it?

      Man SHALL dominate Nature.

      Or die trying.

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  3. Won’t Gonzales v. Raich affect this?

    1. Even if a President wanted to send in his or her stormtroopers to ruin the party, there are simply not enough of them to make a dent. California will do what California wants to do with respect to marijuana issues.

      1. Dude, I hope so. I just, you know, worry about the federal government overstepping its constitutionally granted powers. Not that’s it’s ever happened before.

      2. Even if a President wanted to send in his or her stormtroopers to ruin the party, there are simply not enough of them to make a dent.

        And thats how we finally bring the troops home….when we need them to invade Calfornia.

        CW2! Bring it on baby!

        (CW2 = Civil War 2. I wanted to use the WW2 style notation)

  4. What does it matter if it’s still illegal federally?

    1. It matters because, making a safe assumption, California will be the first state to pass full legalization of marijuana, and it is inevitable that many states like Washington will follow en suite. Also, the Obama administration stated that federal conflict with state marijuana laws is their lowest priority, and will not be hassled with. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..25426.html

      1. That’s mostly right. The administration has said, officially at least, that focusing on users of medical marijuana is not a good use of its limited resources. So there are two outs here: (1) non-medical use, and (2) when the govt is flush with cash again.

      2. More practically, state and local police are bound by California law and are not tasked with enforcing federal law. The vast majority of arrests for marijuana possession are made by state and local police, and if they stop enforcing the law, I’m sure it will be bumpy in terms of dead-ender-style resistance by recalcitrant DAs, cops and the feds (as we still see with medical marijuana in California fifteen years after Prop 215 passed), but in the end, game over, good guys win – if it gets enacted.

      3. Yes. However if someone gets into power in 2012 or 2016 and decides that federal marijuana laws are a priority, then we’re back to square one.

    2. More practically, it matters because the vast majority of enforcement is done by state and local police, who are accountable to California voters and who are not generally tasked with enforcing federal law.

  5. pot is worse than alcohol

    You’re dam rite about that.


    So is hemlock, jimson, datura, yew and other toxic plants.

    1. funny that one of the most non-toxic plants on earth is singled out for elimination and mere possession or sale of it is illegal while possessing and selling hemlock is legal. all plants should be legal but its just hypocritical to treat a harmless plant like its some kind of lethal menace when it clearly is not.

    2. Should you expect anybody to take you seriously when you can’t even spell “damn” correctly? Not to mention the silly out-of-context quoting and completely misinformed idea that marijuana is bad somehow. The proof is in, it’s not harmful.

    3. Look over there. See the camera?


  6. This is stupid, it will lead to children being able to get the drug. The DEA needs to round thes politicians up for some good old fashioned SEVERE punishment.

    1. Juanita?

      I heard you were dead.

      1. Finally tried some of the Demon Weed and croaked after one toke. We’ll miss you juanita!

    2. kids can get it easier when it’s illegal now ! if it’s regulated, it’ll be a pain in the ass for them. TOO BAD.

      put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    3. I plan to give it to my 3 year old. If I can keep the kid too stoned to leave the couch then I won’t need a babysitter.

      But I may get so hungry after smoking 2 ounces that I might eat my kid. Yeah, that would teach my exwife a lesson.

      1. Have you tried putting a sign on your 3 year old saying “3 year old child, DO NOT EAT!” It helped me out a lot.

        1. Even a Post-It note would help.

          Put one on the oven and microwave, too. “Do Not Place Child Inside”.

        2. Thanks, it was a good idea, but I ate the sign and the kid ran.

  7. Maybe this bill won’t pass (though one can hope) still it’s a HUGE start that it’s even gotten this far.

  8. Awesome! I come back from a month in Peru and and on my first Reason H&R viewing there is a Juanita sighting. I’m either lucky, unlucky, or she’s fucking stalking me (which would probably piss off J sub D).

    Now, umm, can we do this in Maryland please? I want my damn THC lollipops and California is far away.

    1. I’m either lucky, unlucky, or she’s fucking stalking me

      You’re leaving out another option: Jaunita is actually another personality of yours that manifests itself while you sleep.

  9. Legalize it? Yes. Tax it? Fuck no. Giving money to the state of california is worse than burning it.


  10. I’m not that impressed. Tax revenue, not freedom is the motive.

    1. Agreed. Not two blocks from the seat of local government in San Francisco, a woman stopped me and asked me to sign a petition — an alternative to Ammiano’s legislation — that also included legalization and taxation. I told her it would be great if California legalized weed, but that using taxation as the revenue carrot to lure opponents was a little sick. She simply couldn’t understand where I was coming from. That’s what happens when a progressive and a libertarian with a shared interest part ways over the ideological violator infecting their shared interest. Too bad. I rather like that the gentlemen from whom I buy weed doesn’t pay one penny of taxes on it. In America, that’s about as close to libertopia as it gets.

      1. How would a bill like this affect that fact? You could still buy illegal and untaxed.

        1. Or grow your own….till you get WickardVsFilburn’d

  11. Wouldn’t it be funny if they taxed it so high that Californians just turn back to the black market again? I don’t know if this is a win. Decriminalization is good, government regulation and taxation, not so good.

    1. From what I understand the dispenseries in Cali actually charge right at or above the black market street price for the weed they sell. Something about the buyer not being able to get a good deal and then turn around and make a profit on the black market off the medical weed. So in all reality they have done nothing to compete with the black market and people just as soon go that route as go to a med club and also perhaps get taxed!

    2. I see massive bouts of cognitive dissonance coming in CA if they legalize this.

      1) Because they want to tax it, they will legalize smoking it, but growing your own will continue to be illegal.

      2) Ron Bailey SWAT team specials will continue to happen as CA targets these tax scofflaws.

      3) No matter how much new revenue is collected, the state budget deficit will increase. When the pols see the revenue start coming in, they will increase spending at an even greater rate thinking that it can’t do any harm because “we have all this new money.”

      1. That was my second thought. Cali will take this new revenue and use it as an excuse to start another government project/ program instead of paying off its debt.

      2. The bill allows for people to grow for their own consumption.

      3. Ron Bailey SWAT team specials

        That’s even better than “Saturday Night Special”.

        And #3 is inevitable, regardless of any MJ legislation. Might as well talk about how the sky is blue.

  12. The taxation debate is such a “have your cake and eat it too argument”. I don’t have any hard numbers offhand, but the savings in prisons/drug enforcement/etc. legalization would provide couldn’t be anything short of massive. I know in some states selling a gram of pot within 1000 feet of a school is a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years – basically we pay for someone to be in jail 2 years for a non-violent victimless “crime” and then tarnish their record enough that they’ll probably never hold a productive job again in their life.

    Then again, NEITHER party wants to reduce the size and scope of the government because that would in turn reduce cronyism which is the foundation of our lovely two party dictat… I mean state.

  13. It’s really hard to pass a law when you’re higher than a kite. Good luck stoner-lawyers! Your parents would be proud.

    1. Are you implying California congressmen are all “higher than a kite”? And I’d have to be stoned all day if I were a lawyer, too. Simply couldn’t live with meself.

      1. I get the idea that he thinks lawyers make laws. “NotStoned”, my ass.

  14. One effect of legalize-and-tax is that it will make it virtually impossible to arrest anyone for public use or mere possession of marijuana.

    So there’s that going for it.

    Those of you who oppose legalize-and-tax camp are:

    (1) Never going to support any kind of legalization, because it will never come if marijuana isn’t taxed. Seriously, we’re better off with illegal pot than legal-and-taxed pot? I’ll take some of what you’re smoking. Or, on second thought, no thanks.

    (2) Have to explain why marijuana should get a special tax exemption, and that in the absence of that exemption, we’re all better off if it remains illegal.

    1. Public intoxication? Probably DUIs if you get behind the wheel.

      I’m not oppose to legalizing and taxing pending upon the tax scheme. I would have no problem with a sales tax. But will they tax people that grow their own? If so how would that work, what would the penalties be, how would they investigate?

      If it ends up kind of like the stamp act and cops are raiding peoples homes because they are growing and not paying the taxes, we might not be better off.

      1. Whats the difference from any other fruit/veg/plant?

        If you grow so many tomatoes that you have to force your neighbors to take bushels and bushels off your hands….should you be taxed for that activity?

        But if you start a bonafide tomato farm with accompanying retail distribution….then you’re reasonably well within the realm of taxability.

        How is pot any different?

  15. BUT, it’s the ONLY way something like this will happen.

    Sides, most people could just grow their own then,

    1. Home Depot stock will rise. Buy now.

  16. Generally I despise Kalifornia, however here they may actually set a precedent that helps guide the nation in the right direction instead of the wrong way like usual. This may be the beginning of the end for marijuana prohibition in the United States. Just a medical marijuana had somewhat of a domino effect, the nations most populous state legalizing pot would spread to other states. Maybe soon Americans will wake up to the fact that society is NOT better served by a person smoking pot in their living room, being thrown into prison for a personal choice that does not even hurt themselves let alone anyone else. This would put the drug cartels and street gangs out of business. Why has Hollywood not made a movie about marijuana prohibition like they have of alcohol prohibition. It would have some great action, they could hire actors to dress up like SS storm troopers (SWAT) who seige Americans homes in the middle of the night, dragging men to prison while children cry and wives scream. The movie could show someone getting shanked in prison an rapped, for the betterment of society because he/she smoked “pot”. It could show street gangs shooting at each other in neighborhoods and drive bys driven for pot profit where kids get killed.

    1. SS storm troopers (SWAT) who seige

      could show someone getting shanked in prison an rapped

      So like Philadelphia* crossed with Attack of the Clones. Sounds like a blockbuster.

      *Philadelphia because i assume that prison rape ends in AIDS.

  17. If it is legalized and taxed, companies like Philip Morris could come in and start cultivating and mass producing the stuff. Demand is already high (no pun intended) so the market would respond to, and purchase the new taxed product. Prices would plummet and put the black market out of business. Crime would drop significantly, as so much crime is related to drugs. Drug use other then marijuana would also drop off a cliff as marijuana being sold by illegal dealers, these dealers sell other drugs, so consumers of Cannabis come into contact with real -hard drugs on the black market. Make it legal and that contact with real drugs ceases. After legalization with crime down and revenue up, the effects of lower prison cost, and police measures would become apparent with hundreds of billions of dollars available for needed causes. South of the border Mexico would get poorer as a major source of revenue for the country is exporting Marijuana to the United States. But at the same timer less drug money means less corruption and crime. A worthwhile trade off for Mexico. Meanwhile industrial hemp would then also be legal back in the States, generating jobs and industry for Americans. And with all the “pot” money staying in the States and not being remitted back to Mexico (another benefit). Also children would no longer be able to access marijuana as they are today. Today high schoolers have an easier time getting pot then beer, because beer being regulated one needs an ID to purchase, so after legalization there would be a significant decline in use among juveniles. So free people, less crime, revenue saved from ending prohibition, revenue generated from taxes, pot money stays in the States not sent to Mexico, Drug Cartels out of business, less use among children/youths, Hemp industry development creates jobs and products, less use of harder drugs not only because of the elimination of contact with black market dealers, but also the social stigma associated with marijuana would cease. Today young pot smokers are told how marijuana is evil and will seriously harm them ,they are told it is addictive, etc. These are all lies, so they may interpret that what they have heard about other drugs as being lies to! They will say “well this joint is not bad”, “they lied to us, maybe cocaine is ok to?” That no longer being the case would also lead to less hardcore drug use.

    1. Demand is already high (no pun intended)

      The pun doesn’t work. The “demand” ISN’T High. If it were, the demand would be for cheetos or other tasty snacks.

  18. JUANITA!!!!

  19. im doing my senior project on the legalization of marijuana, and for humboldt I dont think it should be legalized. the economy would CRUMBLE completely whether people want to admit it or not. people choose to live their lives sitting growing pot, but thats the way they put food on the table for their families. If legalized, it’ll create a complete surplus of the stuff, and no one will be able to make any money off of what they have because it’ll just turn into who gives the best deal.

    Everywhere I researched Online, they all talk about legalizing it. Everyone everywhere wants it that way. For california as a whole…. i guess it would be a good thing for the money. In my opinion of a perfect world, I would split California in half. The perfect split would be at about Santa Rosa /Sacramento area that cuts over to southern Tahoe and just leave Southern Cali to itself because FOR SOME REASON apparently to the rest of the world ALL of California is LA((its new state would be named Las Angeles.)). Really that’s where majority vote is, that’s where all the big business people are, and that’s why the internet is going crazy wanting to legalize it. I find a lot of difference between the internet and hearing it from the people face to face. Everyone I talk to says the same thing. “If it is legalized we are going to shrivel up into nothing and die. It’s the money that we make that will go to taxes and other people, even more than it already does. it wont go to us, our school, or our businesses, or our families.” Even President Obama, who has been asked about the issue more than once, says he believes marijuana legalization is not “a good strategy to grow our economy.”

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