Feature

Could legalizing marijuana save California?

San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's proposal to fill the state's coffers by taxing pot

It's time to admit that the war on marijuana has been "an abject failure," said Dan Walters in the Fresno Bee. It costs taxpayers a fortune every year. "Wouldn't it be smarter to legalize marijuana"—as a San Francisco assemblyman is proposing—"and tax its sale to adults much as we do liquor and cigarettes?"

The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it once was, said Nate Silver in FiveThirtyEight. “Three recent polls show that Americans are more sympathetic to the idea of legalizing marijuana than ever before.” Support for legalization has broken the 40 percent mark, and “the position no longer holds the stigma that it once did.”

And now there’s a new reason to tax pot instead of criminalizing it, said Eric Bailey in the Los Angeles Times. California has been squeezed hard by the financial crisis, and cannabis is widely believed to be the state’s biggest cash crop. San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s proposal to tax marijuana could be the state’s financial salvation.

Sure, in Amsterdam they sell pot and hashish in “coffee shops,” said the Texas Enterprise in an editorial. Some places allow bullfighting; some allow casinos; some allow brothels. But legalizing vices is the easy, and immoral, way out.

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