Going beyond the legal medical applications of marijuana, California is now considering fully legalizing the growth, sales and consumption of marijuana for all adults in the state.
Reeling from a budgetary crisis that has sent the state to Washington DC to ask for a $6.9 billion infusion, California is in need of some creative ideas on generating revenue.
One idea is facing a crucial vote on Tuesday - when California lawmakers will decide the fate of Assembly Bill 390, a measure that would tax and regulate marijuana across the state and across all forms of adult cultivation, consumption and sales. The new law would extend marijuana's legalization well beyond the current medical usage programs in force throughout the state.
The legislation would treat marijuana in the same manner that alcohol is treated - making it a crime for minors to grow, smoke or sell the drug - and would apply a fee of $50 per ounce on all marijuana sold within the state. Lawmakers believe the fee could generate nearly $1 billion in tax revenue for the state.
"The mere fact that there will be votes in the Assembly to regulate and control the sale and distribution of marijuana would have been unthinkable even one year ago," said retired Orange County California Supreme Court Judge Jim Gray, according to a San Francisco NBC affiliate. "And if the bill doesn't pass this year, it will soon. Or, the bill will be irrelevant because the voters will have passed the measure to regulate and tax marijuana that will be on the ballot this November."