Marijuana has generated some headlines in California this week, with a report that a state legislature proposal to legalize and tax it could bring in $1.4 billion for the state, and a proposal from an LA councilwoman to tax medical marijuana. But while reformers have seen the profile of medical marijuana and overall pot legalization raised in 2009, they don't expect the California measure to pass this year.
"In the long term, yes, but I don't think it's gonna pass this summer," Marijuana Policy Project Communications Director Bruce Mirken said.
The bill has not been slated for legislative action in 2009: if it's taken up, it will be when the legislature convenes in 2010, Drug Policy Alliance Deputy State Director for Southern California Margaret Dooley-Sammuli said. "We expect a more healthy debate, which is a victory in and of itself--a serious debate in the legislature about the benefits and the risks of such a change in policy," Dooley-Sammuli said.
Indeed, that would be a victory for marijuana reformers: the issue has struggled to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the political mainstream in the past (President Obama mocked legalization at a town hall early in his White House tenure, after numerous citizens had submitted questions about it online), but marijuana's venture into the political fore culminated when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in May that it's time to have that serious debate.