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    Posted March 2, 2009 by
    North Coast, California
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    Legalizing Marijuana Could Help California Get Out of Debt

    Californians over age 21 could openly buy marijuana - and pay a hefty tax - under proposed legislation. San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says his controversial legislation would help get California out of debt. The proposal includes all marijuana, and not just medical marijuana, which has been legal in California since 1996. The Board of Equalization estimates the bill would bring the state $1.3 billion every year. Of that, $990 million would come from a $50 per ounce levy and $350 million from sales tax revenue. Federal government statistics put annual illegal sales of pot in the state at $14 billion. > "I think here in California, we understand $14 billion is something that can't be blown off. The state deserves to have a piece of it," said Ammiano. Ammiano says some of the proceeds from the tax would go to drug programs. Reported by: Kelly Bush, Tuesday, February 24, 2009 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29374351/ Legalizing Marijuana in California Could Be Good for the Environment Looking for a Bill on Grass to Pass More marijuana is grown in California than any other state. As it stands, it's already the state's biggest cash cropit's just not legal. So, the reasoning goes, if there's this major industry that's operating entirely outside the law, why not legalize it and reap the fiscal benefits? Many believe that marijuana is no more (or even less) dangerous than alcohol, which provides a wellspring of tax revenue for state coffers. The new laws would be similar to those regulating alcohol-you would have to be 21 to buy, sell, possess, or grow the stuff. And here's the kicker-legalizing marijuana could be better for the environment. A Sticky Situation A couple of years ago, it was discovered that marijuana crops were bad for forests, and they helped threaten endangered species. Growers would tend crops, harvest, and abandon their farms in the fall, leaving behind: (from an earlier TreeHugger report) Irrigation tubes that snake for a mile or more over forested ridges. Pesticides have drained into creeks and entered the food chain, sickening wildlife. Piles of trash and human waste have been left in the most rugged and bucolic drainages. As the US Forest Service put it, "they basically trash our public lands." But these reckless, damaging practices come about largely due to two reasons: * 1. Growers are afraid of the legal repercussions should they get caught-so they grow crops on land that isn't theirs (read: national forests), in hidden areas that aren't good for agriculture. They trample and endanger ecosystems in the process. * 2. There are no regulations marijuana growers must follow-they're already breaking the law, so how much consideration do you think they'll give to making sure they're following sustainable farming practices? Greener Marijuana? Now all this is not to excuse illegal marijuana growing at allthe farmers have no right to be on that land, and no right to endanger our forest habitats. But who wants to bet that marijuana farms aren't going away anytime soon? And that the farmers will continue to damage the environment so as long as the practice is illegal and unregulated? As of 2006, there were over 21 million marijuana plants harvested in California. That's a lot of unregulated, potentially destructive farming. If buying, selling, and growing marijuana were legalized, then a whole new set of regulations could be imposed to monitor the grow centers and ensure they observed California agriculture laws. Pesticide use could be controlled, errant trash disposal could minimized, and public lands would be better protected-it would erase the need for reckless guerilla farming. Farmers would be able to plant in areas better suited for agriculture, and would disrupt fewer forest habitats as a result. It's still a deeply hypothetical scenario-the legalization bill is still a long shot-but making marijuana legal could very well be better for the environment. *http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/02/legalize-marijuana-california-environment.php
  • Personally, I would be concerned that "big business" would take over and the existing growers would be eased out. Medical marijuana has been legal via Prop 215 in California since 1996. It is available via prescription and sold Cannabis Clubs or may be home grown by permit. President Obama has recently stated that he will no longer federally prosecute growers or users of medical marijuana in states where it is legal. *
  • http://www.chrisconrad.com/expert.witness/Prop215.html
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