Legalizing marijuana, and taxing it and adding fees for its regulation, could add more than a billion dollars a year into the state's finances, under a bill proposed by a state assemblyman.
The bill introduced Monday by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco would regulate marijuana like alcohol. People over 21 years old would be allowed to grow, buy, sell and possess the drug, according to a San Francisco Chronicle story.
It's unclear if federal law barring marijuana use would supersede any state law. Californians approved Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing marijuana for medical use, but federal agents have closed pot clubs throughout the state.
As a California resident facing increased state taxes and service cutbacks as the state deals with what seems like a constant budget problem, I support this bill and the money it would raise.
Ammiano's bill already has the backing of Betty Yee, who chairs the state Board of Equalization, which collects taxes in California. Her agency found that the state would collect $1.3 billion a year in tax revenue and a $50-an-ounce levy on retail sales if marijuana were legal.
The analysis also found that legalization would drop the street value by half and increase consumption by 40%.
For Californians, adding another tax may be the best way to solve the budget crisis that pops up every year. At least lawmakers will be a little more mellow when debating it.