California and Washington....We Salute You!!


You read it right. This is not about medical marijuana. This is about complete state legalization following the model of cigarettes and alcohol. It is becoming quite clear that the current attitudes toward marijuana and how it is policed and taxed are pushing marijuana policy reform. Growing approval by society and by the mainstream political establishment prove this. During the week, two major state-level political organizations gave their backing to local initiatives to end marijuana prohibition.  

NAACP leaders in California said Monday they support a state referendum on the November ballot to legalize marijuana. Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP California chapter, said in a statement the war on drugs has failed and disproportionately affects young ethnic minorities, black males in particular. “We are joining a growing number of medical professionals, labor organizations, law enforcement authorities, local municipalities and approximately 56 percent of the public in saying that it is time to decriminalize the use of marijuana,” Huffman said. Citing the inherent racism in the government’s war on marijuana, the California state chapter of the NAACP announced its support for the Tax Cannabis initiative, which will appear as Proposition 19 on the California ballot this November.  


It is formally known as Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. Supporters of legalization are focusing on the benefits they say would flow to the state from taxing cannabis; when cannabis is illegal, it is not taxed. If it was legal, the government would be able to impose a tax on it. This would add money to California’s coffers during a time that the budget is out-of-balance. The domestically grown marijuana crop in California is worth an estimated $14 billion a year, making it an attractive target for taxation in a state with an unstable economy and budget deficit in the tens of billions. According to the state’s Board of Equalization study, the state might generate $1.3 billion in taxes if marijuana is legal and taxed. There might be one hitch. Because marijuana would still be illegal under federal law, the tax benefits to California of passing the initiative would be minimal since “It can’t raise the money unless people report the income, and if you do that you are serving yourself up to the feds, and you could go to jail for a long time.”  

In Washington, state Democratic Party voted by an overwhelming 314-185 margin to endorse a proposed legalization initiative by Sensible Washington, which has not yet qualified for the ballot. This helps make the push that Washington could very well have a legalization vote on the ballot for November. They may not be prepared for complete legalization, but medical cannabis-related ballot initiatives are happening in states such as Arizona, South Dakota and very possibly Oregon.  

As more and more influential political forces oppose the failed and no longer prudent philosophy of prohibition and finally embrace the path of reform, the potential for major electoral victories in 2010 and 2012 seems more promising than ever before.prma