Calif. Holds Hearings on Legalizing Pot

Hopes high as 3 measures head for ballot next year

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 28, 2009 3:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – The push to legalize—and, especially appealing at the moment, tax—marijuana is picking up momentum in California, with legislators holding hearings today on what would be the first such law in the nation. Organizers are currently collecting signatures to put three separate pot legalization initiatives on the ballot next year, and at least one of them is expected to make it to a vote. Gov. Schwarzenegger has said he welcomes "robust debate" on the issue.

Taxing legalized pot could pump $1.4 billion into the state's depleted coffers, reports the New York Times. Law enforcement groups oppose legalization for recreational use, as does the federal government, but the proponents got a boost earlier this month when federal officials indicated they would largely stay out of state regulation of medical marijuana. “All of us in the movement have had the feeling that we’ve been running into the wind for years,” said a retired judge who backs legalization of marijuana. "Now we're running with the wind.”

Young marijuana plants thrive in indoor growing facility.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Tom Romero packs one-eighth-ounce bags of medical marijuana at The Green Door dispensary in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A worker at the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic prepares packets of marijuana buds for sale in San Francisco last week.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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