Calif. Legislator Wants to Tax, Legalize Pot

Knows 'jokes coming,' but says his broke state could net $1B
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2009 10:36 AM CST
Some believe marijuana is California's biggest cash crop.   (Shutterstock)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – A California lawmaker thinks he has a solution for the state’s fiscal woes: Tax marijuana. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced a bill that would legalize, regulate, and tax pot, treating the drug like alcohol or tobacco, the Los Angeles Times reports. “I know the jokes are going to be coming,” Ammiano says, “but this is not a frivolous issue.”

By some estimates, California’s pot industry rakes in $14 billion each year, which would make it by far the state’s biggest cash crop. If that’s accurate, the state—struggling to close a $42 billion deficit—could make upward of $1 billion in taxes. But opponents say it “would create a whole new set of costs for society,” making pot easier to obtain and increasing incidences of driving under the influence.