FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 19, 2009
Rejection of Budget Measures Boosts Drive to Tax, Regulate Marijuana
56% Support Taxing Marijuana, According to Recent Field Poll
CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205
SAN FRANCISCO -- Today's thumping rejection of a series of ballot measures aimed at easing California's hemorrhaging budget deficit adds new urgency to the drive to regulate California's largest cash crop, marijuana, advocates said tonight.
"It's clear that voters didn't like the solutions put forth by the legislature on last night's ballot," said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "But a Field poll last month showed solid support for making marijuana a legal, regulated product and making producers and sellers pay taxes that they now avoid. For the legislature to leave marijuana untaxed even as our state faces catastrophic cuts to schools, transportation, public safety and other critical services borders on the criminal."
A 2006 study by public policy researcher Jon Gettman found marijuana to be California's top cash crop, exceeding the value of the number two and three crops, vegetables and grapes, combined. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, two million Californians acknowledge having used marijuana in the past month. Estimates have suggested that California could save hundreds of millions in law enforcement costs and gain more than a billion in tax revenues if marijuana were taxed and regulated as proposed in legislation introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco).
"Now that it seems we've hit the end of the road in the search for solving California's budget mess, we need to be looking outside the box," Smith added. "Replacing the failed policy of marijuana prohibition with a system of regulation and taxation would not only be sound public policy, but it also looks a lot more politically popular than anything else being offered up by Sacramento right now."
With more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.