Could marijuana be the answer to the economic misery facing California? Democratic State Assembly member Tom Ammiano thinks so. Ammiano introduced legislation last month that would legalize pot and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale - a move that could mean billions for the cash-strapped state.
Needless to say, there are critics. And of course, their logic has more holes than a donut shop.
Despite the projected and much-needed revenue, opponents say legalizing pot will only add to social woes. "The last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized," says John Lovell, lobbyist for the California Peace Officers' Association. "We have enough problems with alcohol and abuse of pharmaceutical products: do we really need to add yet another mind-altering substance to the array?"
Oh, he's right. I keep forgetting. No one is currently using marijuana because it's illegal.
Pot is, after all, California's biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion in annual sales, dwarfing the state's second largest agricultural commodity - milk and cream - which brings in $7.3 billion annually, according to the most recent USDA statistics.
As Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray said, "we couldn't make this drug any more available if we tried."