The latest on marijuana, courtesy of the Associated Press :
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says California should study other nations' experiences in legalizing and taxing marijuana, although he is not supporting the idea. He says it's time to debate proposals such as a bill introduced in the Legislature earlier this year that would treat marijuana like alcohol. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, says taxing marijuana at $50 per ounce would bring more than $1 billion a year to the state. Schwarzenegger said during a Tuesday news conference that "it's time for debate" on the idea. But he warned against making harmful decisions just for the sake of raising money. He said some other nations have had negative experiences.
This is the logical next step toward legalization. As the Washington Post noted last month , pot is already "available as a medical treatment in California to almost anyone who tells a willing physician he would feel better if he smoked," and it's being "retailed over the counter in hundreds of storefronts" in Los Angeles alone. Furthermore, the state already "collects $18 million in sales taxes from marijuana dispensaries." But $1 billion? (Actually, state officials who support legalization estimate the take at around $1.3 billion.) Now you're talking.
You know how it is: Teenagers have trouble saying no to drugs; politicians have trouble saying no to money. But this is just another rationalization we're reaching for as we gradually concede pot's legality. By the time the "studies" invited by various governors are in, the revenue question will be less pressing, and the public will have become that much more used to the idea.