SAN FRANCISCO --- State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation this week to legalize and regulate the commercial production and sale of cannabis for adults age 21 or over. The proposal – Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act – is the first bill ever to be introduced in the California legislature that seeks to tax and control the sale of cannabis.
Ammiano introduced AB 390 at a press conference Monday. Joining the assemblyman in support of the measure were Betty Yee, Chairwoman of the California Board of Equalization (Taxation), Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan, Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Gray (retired), and Dale Gieringer, Coordinator of California NORML, which provided legislative text and financial analysis for the bill.
"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move toward regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense," Ammiano said. "This legislation would generate much needed revenue for the state, restrict access to only those over 21, end the environmental damage to our public lands from illicit crops, and improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to more serious crimes. California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana."
Local news anchors from CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS television covered the press conference. National stories regarding Ammiano's bill have appeared in USA Today, as well as on Air America and CNN.
As introduced, AB 390 would raise over $1.3 billion in annual revenue by taxing the retail production and sale of marijuana, according to financial estimates provided by the California Board of Equalization. An economic analysis by California NORML estimates that a legal, statewide retail market for cannabis could generate additional revenues totaling some $12 to $18 billion dollars per year.
The noncommercial cultivation of marijuana for personal use – defined as ten plants or fewer – would not be subject to taxation under the proposal. In addition, AB 390 would not alter existing legislation on the use of medicinal cannabis, nor would it impose new taxes or sanctions on the medical cultivation of cannabis.
A recent Zogby poll of 1,053 likely voters, commissioned by California NORML and Oaksterdam University, reported that nearly six out of ten respondents on the west coast favor taxing and legally regulating cannabis like alcohol.
"This bill is a winning proposition for California taxpayers," Gieringer said. "It's time that California stops wasting resources trying to enforce marijuana prohibition, and instead realizes the tax benefits derived from a legal, regulated cannabis market."
Read the Opposing Views debate, "Should the U.S. Legalize Marijuana?"
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