The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications

415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

CA Bill to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Introduced

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) Introduces Historic Legislation in Wake of State Fiscal Crisis


Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) today announced the introduction of
legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar
to alcoholic beverages. The bill, the first of its kind ever introduced
in California, would create a regulatory structure similar to that used
for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while
barring sales to or possession by those under 21.

based on federal government statistics have shown marijuana to be
California's top cash crop, valued at approximately $14 billion in 2006
-- nearly twice the combined value of the state's number two and three
crops, vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion). Massive
"eradication" efforts, wiping out an average of nearly 36,000
cultivation sites per year, have failed to make a dent in this
underground industry.

"It is
simply nonsensical that California's largest agricultural industry is
completely unregulated and untaxed," said Marijuana Policy Project
California policy director Aaron Smith, who appeared with Ammiano and
other officials at a San Francisco news conference to announce the
legislation. "With our state in an ongoing fiscal crisis -- and no one
believes the new budget is the end of California's financial woes --
it's time to bring this major piece of our economy into the light of

experts from around the world, from President Nixon's National
Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse in 1972 to a Canadian Senate
special committee in 2002, have long contended that criminalizing
marijuana users makes little sense, given that marijuana is less
addictive, much less toxic and far less likely to induce aggression or
violence than alcohol. For example, in an article in the December 2008 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Australian researcher Stephen Kisely noted that "penalties bear little relation to the actual harm associated with cannabis."

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the number one organization in the U.S. legalizing cannabis. We passed 13 medical cannabis laws in the past 15 years, and we ran winning campaigns in eight of the 11 legalization states. No organization in the movement has changed as many cannabis laws, impacted as many patients and consumers, created as many new markets, or done more to end cannabis prohibition in the U.S. than MPP.