While a handful of lawmakers and activists are fruitlessly lobbying for Missouri to become the fourteenth state to sanction marijuana for medical use (a topic that was covered in-depth
's dead tree edition this week), a legislator from San Francisco has introduced a bill to California's general assembly that would legalize pot for recreational use and tax it as if it were alcohol.
Ammiano's measure, AB 390, would essentially replicate the regulatory structure used for beer, wine and hard liquor, with taxed sales barred to anyone under 21.
He said it would actually boost public safety, keeping law enforcement focused on more serious crimes while keeping marijuana away from teenagers who can readily purchase black-market pot from peers.
The natural world would benefit, too, from the uprooting of environmentally destructive backcountry pot plantations that denude fragile ecosystems, Ammiano said.
But the biggest boon might be to the bottom line. By some estimates, California's pot crop is a $14-billion industry, putting it above vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). If so, that could mean upward of $1 billion in tax revenue for the state each year.
The best case against the proposed law? How can a health-conscious state like California, which passed a law banning the use of trans-fats in cooking oil, possibly permit people to smoke marijuana? It's a toss up between that argument and "[drug cartels] will heavily target our children."