Governator Wants Discussion on Legalizing Da Weed

Everyone’s been talking about it, our state’s broke, and really it’s everywhere already anyways, this is California after all.   But now the governor of my fine state wants dialog on the legalization of marajuana, from The NYTimes:

Pressure to mend the state’s fractured budget along with growing public support of marijuana legalization moved him to support such a study, Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

“I think it’s time for a debate,” he said. “I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues; I’m always for an open debate on it. And I think we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs. What effect did it have on those countries?”

A Field Poll from April showed 56 percent of the state’s registered voters in support of legalizing and taxing marijuana for recreational use to fill some of the budget deficit. Mr. Schwarzenegger told reporters at a fire-safety event in Davis, Calif., that he did not support sweeping legalization, but that more information would help.

Marijuana advocates said the governor’s invitation to have a discussion at all was a landmark.

“What stands out about Gov. Schwarzenegger’s comment is not that he thought it, but that he said it,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “There has been enormous fear at a political level about saying out loud and on the record that we should think about this.”

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Democrat of San Francisco, introduced legislation in February that would legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana for recreational use. Mr. Ammiano’s proposal has been shelved this session, but he has said he would reintroduce it next year. Sales could raise $1.2 billion to $1.34 billion in annual tax revenue, some estimates say.

But that would be little salve for the state’s deficit, which could reach $20 billion in 15 months if ballot initiatives proposed by the governor do not pass, said Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, Republican of Irvine. Mr. DeVore said he did not support legalizing marijuana, and was surprised to hear the governor’s comments.

“I think this shows the governor’s growing desperation over the budget,” Mr. DeVore said.

Like I said, everyone’s been throwing up victory flags and such, but really this is just an open call to debate the matter.  It could still go either way and Ahnold is notoriously fickle.  But, yes, it’s a huge step forward just to be able to debate such a thing.

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