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.]