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New bill calls for the legalization of marijuana

Athena Mekis, Staff Writer

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This November, Californians will vote on the legalization of marijuana for recreational use on the California general election ballot.

The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act of 2010 was introduced last year as Assembly Bill 390. The bill said it would, “make personal possession and cultivation legal for adults 21 and up. The proposal also gives cities and counties the option to tax and regulate marijuana sales,” according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) Web site.

This year, the bill has been re-introduced to legislators as A.B. 2254 due to legislative calendar constraints from last year.

According to the MPP Web site, the bill proposes that the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control could be allowed to regulate marijuana sales and impose a $50-per-ounce excise tax on marijuana sold by licensed vendors.”

Excise taxes are made on specific goods such as gasoline, alcohol and tobacco, and are included in the price of goods, according to the IRS Web site.

The MPP has been lobbying congress to regulate and control marijuana as legal market since 1995. They are the leading organization behind the Tax Cannabis Act.

California also passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, which ensures that “seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.”

According to 2008 Cal State Long Beach crime statistics released by University Police, more cases of drug abuse were reported on campus and on public property than alcohol abuse. The Tax Cannabis Act would make marijuana laws equal to alcohol laws, including the 21-and-over rule.

“The most appropriate way to legalize marijuana is to make it comparable to beer, allow small amounts grown, but regulate it and to require a special permit in order to give it away,” said Aaron Smith, director of the MPP California policy. “It’s easy to use an existing model with familiar standards.”

However, senior political science major Nicole Valenzuela believes age limit does not stop underage alcohol use.

“It’s too easily accessible to put an age limit on it,” she said.

Chair of the economics department Joseph Magaddino said it is difficult to control voluntary exchanges when dealing with an illegal drug.

“If you legalize marijuana, you make it easier on law enforcement,” Magaddino said.

Smith said that keeping marijuana illegal gives plenty of work to law enforcement.
“We need to redirect [law enforcement’] efforts,” he said.

For those hoping to be released from their prison sentences should marijuana become legal, Smith said that it is unlikely.

“When alcohol prohibition was repealed [in 1933], they didn’t allow bootleggers out either, but it does provide an avenue for appeals,” he said.

Smith said that it is important to know this bill is not about promoting or condoning marijuana use.

“This [bill] is about allowing the market to be controlled rather than criminally run,” Smith said. “We want to take back the market and put it into the hands of licensed vendors.”

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