Jacob Sullum discusses the hearing for the marijuana legalization bill introduced by California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:
As a RAND Corporation analyst pointed out at the hearing, a black market in marijuana might persist if the legal product were heavily taxed. But that's an argument against high taxes, not against legalization. Several witnesses also noted that marijuana would still be prohibited under federal law, meaning that producers and sellers would still be vulnerable to arrest and prosecution. But that is exactly the scenario that needs to play out if we are going to see any serious progress in ending the war on the drugs. Will the federal government go to war with a state that legalizes the cultivation and sale of marijuana within its borders, or will it find a way to live with a diversity of state policies in this area (as the Constitution requires)? The Obama administration's move toward a less aggressive posture vis-a-vis medical marijuana, assuming it is genuine, could point the way to a federalist experiment that resolves some of the questions raised by opponents of legalization.