Marijuana legalization appears headed to the ballot in California, after initiative organizers turned 700,000 petition signatures, well above the 433,000 required.
If California voters approve, it will be the most comprehensive reform of marijuana laws ever undertaken in the United States. While some states, such as Oregon, have relatively lax penalties for possession, no state has attempted to regulate and tax the herb before.
The measure’s chances are good: A poll taken last April found that 56 percent of Californians want to see the herb legalized and taxed.
According to the L.A. Times, the measure would make it legal for anyone over 21 to own an ounce or less of pot, and to grow pot for personal use in a space no larger than 25 square feet. It would also give cities the right to license marijuana growers and sellers, and to collect taxes on the crop.
Give me half a million dollars to buy the signatures, and I could get a similar measure on the 2010 ballot here in Washington, although I would prefer a measure that relies on our existing state store system to handle sales and distribution. In fact, I’d actually be a pretty good figurehead for the campaign, as I don’t actually use the stuff myself.
Pot prohibition has proven costly, unworkable and counterproductive, and the state could really use the revenue legalization would produce. At the risk of prompting the obvious retort, legalization is really a no-brainer.