A California bill to legalize and tax marijuana, introduced in February by a state Assemblyman, has failed to attract any cosponsors in the state legislature, the San Francisco Chronicle reported April 12.
Still, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who introduced the bill, plans to hold a hearing on the measure in late fall or early winter; Ammiano has two years to build support for the legislation.
In his efforts to sway conservative lawmakers, Ammiano has spoken of the economic benefits of marijuana legalization, the prospect of reducing drug-related violence, and the effect that legalization would have on drug cartels.
Recent polls have shown growing support for marijuana legalization in California. However, Republican Party consultant Rob Stutzman is not convinced that sufficient grassroots support exists to change the law. “People who want to use marijuana are finding it and not having that much trouble using it,” said Stutzman, an adviser to California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman.
Ammiano said that some fellow legislators have privately expressed support for his bill, but are not ready to commit publicly. “If we’re hemorrhaging money and doing this wink-wink, nod-nod all these years, it’s about time we start harvesting this,” he said. “And admit to the fact that it’s going to be around and if we regulate and tax it, and decriminalize it, we could have not only an economic benefit but a policy benefit.”