There’s going to be a referendum on marijuana prohibition this November in the (not so) Golden State. The good news is that it is ahead in the polls. But the bad news is that this is not a reflection of libertarian sentiment. Instead, voters are sympathetic to the notion that pot could be a new source of tax revenue (which presumably means a smaller risk of other tax increases). The AP reports:
When California voters head to the polls in November, they will decide whether the state will make history again – this time by legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults. The state was the first to legalize medicinal marijuana use, with voters passing it in 1996. Since then, 14 states have followed California’s lead, even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law. “This is a watershed moment in the decades-long struggle to end failed marijuana prohibition in this country,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We really can’t overstate the significance of Californians being the first to have the opportunity to end this public policy disaster.” …The California secretary of state’s office certified the initiative for the general election ballot Wednesday after it was determined that supporters had gathered enough valid signatures. The initiative would allow those 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, enough to roll dozens of marijuana cigarettes. Residents also could grow their own crop of the plant in gardens measuring up to 25 square feet. The proposal would ban users from ingesting marijuana in public or smoking it while minors are present. It also would make it illegal to possess the drug on school grounds or drive while under its influence. Local governments would decide whether to permit and tax marijuana sales. Proponents of the measure say legalizing marijuana could save the state $200 million a year by reducing public safety costs. At the same time, it could generate tax revenue for local governments. A Field Poll taken in April found a slim majority of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana to help bridge the state budget deficit.