Jesse McKinley takes a look at states searching for unorthodox revenue sources including this one:
Nowhere is that more true than California, where Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a freshman from San Francisco, made a proposal intended to increase revenue, and, no doubt, appetite: legalizing and taxing marijuana, a major — if technically illegal — crop in the state.
“We’re all jonesing now for money,” Mr. Ammiano said. “And there’s this enormous industry out there.”
I don’t think this is the optimal policy. I fear the creation of a legal marijuana industry with lobbyists and advertising aimed at creating as many problem pot smokers as possible. It would be better, I think, to decriminalize possession and growing for personal use but keep maintain a ban on selling and marketing marijuana. That said, the revenue possibilities of moving to full legalization are pretty tempting. And what Ammiano is proposing would be a significant improvement over the status quo. I think it’s a real sign of the poverty of our policy conversation that this idea isn’t in wider circulation.