California: Bill to Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana

It’s been widely reported yesterday, and the reporting is expanding today, that California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (Democrat-San Francisco) has submitted A.B. 390 to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.

Once again the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has a quick and easy letter you can send to California legislators if you as a citizen of California support this bill, A.B 390. You can choose among several different letters, by hitting the appropriate link at the site. The California weblog page of MPP also has some information.

[addition of 03.01.09]: What to read the current version of A.B. 390? Enter “390” in the appropriate search field and select “bill number”, and follow the onscreen promts.[end addition]

I sent mine yesterday, and this time I wrote my own (it has typos, but at this point they can’t be edited).

Some of the thoughts expressed are based upon my prior post titled San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Medical Marijuana, and Waiting to Inhale. Here’s my letter:

February 23, 2009

[recipient address was inserted here]

Dear [recipient name was inserted here],

It’s my understanding that California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has authored
a bill, A.B. 390, that will legalize and tax marijuana. Additionally, it
will regulate it similar to how alcohol and cigarettes are currently

This seems like common sense legislation to me. Recently I was appalled
to find out that San Diego County has been refusing to issue Medical
Marijuana IDs to patients with a prescription from their doctors for its
use, which either prevents them from using this medicine, or subjects them
and their caregivers to the pressure of arrest. Caregivers in our county
are reportedly being stormed by swat-like police teams, their property
confiscated. It’s now about 15-years since Californians legalized medical
marijuana, and some counties within the state are refusing to follow our

I find myself wondering why state authorities haven’t arrested our County
Supervisors for failing to follow California law. When any of the rest of
us decide to challenge a law in court, as they reportedly have, we still
have to follow the law that’s in existence until such time as a court
overturns it or the legislature agrees on new laws. I understand this is
a complex issue, involving federal government prohibition, but it makes a
poor example when our own local leaders refuse to follow a state law
passed by ballot proposition some 15-years ago.

Therefore, I’m feeling quite strongly that legalization and taxation is
the next step for the people of California to take: San Diego County has
refused to issue IDs to lawfully prescribed patients, subjecting them to
arrest, if not prosecution, and the state has failed to arrest the real
lawbreakers: the county supervisors! Therefore, to legalize, tax, and
regulate marijuana makes some sense to ratchet up the pressure on the
supervisors and over time, upon the Federal government through the U.S.

California just had a record budget stalemate, along with reported tax
increases and service cutbacks. Think of the tax revenues that could roll
in with regulated and taxed marijuana, but also remember all the otherwise
good people who’ve been hurt by the insane prohibition of *a weed* through
stiff enforcement and jail time. How much money have Californian’s been
taxed to process and jail all these citizens all these past years?

Just thinking of these folks’ tragedies over the course of decades breaks
my heart.

Please support A.B. 390.


Ken Klaser

The recipients were:
Assemblymember Jeffries
Senator Hollingsworth

8 thoughts on “California: Bill to Legalize, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana

  1. The big local newspaper has an article out on Medical Marijuana, and I thought this was a good place to refer to it:

    The county Board of Supervisors has refused to issue identification cards to qualified patients – a state law the county is challenging in the U.S. Supreme Court – and storefront dispensaries in San Diego and San Marcos have been raided repeatedly.

    I wonder what the world would be like if we all followed the county Board of Supervisors’ example?

    This is the reason I’ve changed my opinion from being a Medical Marijuana supporter only, to an opinion for decriminalization and ultimately, legalization. The people supervising our county may be allowed to thumb their noses at California’s Medical Marijuana law, but what happens to us little folks when we thumb our nose at, say, a parking ticket fee, or perhaps the mandatory education of our children? Why it seems there’s an entire mechanism of bill collectors and or enforcers sent in to correct our errant ways, and we’re almost always allowed to challenge in court, but we better follow the existing law in the meantime.

    This is a difficult hypocrisy to reconcile.

    Here’s some relevant text of Proposition 215 which was passed:

    (d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient’s primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician.
    (e) For the purposes of this section, ”primary caregiver” means the individual designated by the person exempted under this section who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.

    So, it’s been 12 years since passage of Proposition 215, and punishment is still given out to some folks in our county, because some other folks don’t like it.

    Legalization, taxation, and regulation seems a better option given the Supervisors refusal. Of course they may still decide to refuse to cooperate, but then there’s the matter of messing with tax receipts which then might get the serious attention of entities bigger than them.

    An additional benefit of marijuana legalization would be to all the farmers who may want to grow industrial hemp for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to paper and clothing. That seems like a greener Gaia. It makes more sense to me that paper be made from a crop which is annual, perhaps even more frequent, instead of old-growth trees, or even planted trees that are some years old.

    For those who haven’t read the history of marijuana prohibition, it has been noted (by others) that some with investments in the paper industry played a rather large part in helping create the federal prohibition. I have tried to purchase hemp jeans at a competitive-to-cotton-jeans price, and been stymied in that effort. It’s my understanding that hemp fabric, of an equivalent fabric weight, is stronger and more durable than cotton.

    Here are some excerpts from SB420, a 2003 law which also appears to have passed into law.

    (d) The Legislature further finds and declares both of the
    (1) A state identification card program will further the goals
    outlined in this section.
    (2) With respect to individuals, the identification system
    established pursuant to this act must be wholly voluntary, and a
    patient entitled to the protections of Section 11362.5 of the Health
    and Safety Code need not possess an identification card in order to
    claim the protections afforded by that section.


    11362.71. (a) The department shall establish and maintain a
    voluntary program for the issuance of identification cards to
    qualified patients who satisfy the requirements of this article and
    voluntarily apply to the identification card program.
    (b) Every county health department shall do all of the following:

    (1) Provide applications upon request to individuals seeking to
    join the identification card program.
    (2) Receive and process completed applications in accordance with
    Section 11362.72.
    (3) Maintain records of identification card programs.
    (4) Utilize protocols developed by the department pursuant to
    paragraph (1) of subdivision (d).
    (5) Issue identification cards developed by the department to
    approved applicants and designated primary caregivers.
    (c) The county health department may designate another
    governmental or a nongovernmental entity or organization to perform
    the functions described in subdivision (b), except for an entity or
    organization that cultivates or distributes marijuana.
    (d) The department shall develop all of the following:
    (1) Protocols that shall be used by county health departments and
    their designees to implement the responsibilities described in
    subdivision (b), including, but not limited to, protocols to confirm
    the accuracy of information contained in an application and to
    protect the confidentiality of program records.
    (2) Application forms that shall be issued to requesting
    (3) An identification card that identifies a person authorized to
    engage in the medical use of marijuana and an identification card
    that identifies the person’s designated primary caregiver, if any.
    The two identification cards developed pursuant to this paragraph
    shall be easily distinguishable from each other.
    (e) No person or designated primary caregiver in possession of a
    valid identification card shall be subject to arrest for possession,
    transportation, delivery, or cultivation of medical marijuana in an
    amount approved by the department pursuant to Section 11362.77,
    unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the information
    contained in the card is false or falsified, the card has been
    obtained by means of fraud, or the person is otherwise in violation
    of the provisions of this article.
    (f) It shall not be necessary for a person to obtain an
    identification card in order to claim the protections of Section

    So it appears the Supervisors may be hiding behind the words “voluntary program” in section “11362.71. (a)”, though I’m not certain that phrase was intended for the ID program to be voluntary for counties. Perhaps that is one way of narrowly interpreting it (I am not a lawyer or a judge), but I read it as a program that’s voluntary for patients but not the county. I wonder if there have been any rulings on that two-word phrase within the context of the entire text of SB420, and then even more broadly, within the context of Prop 215 itself.

    I just find the hypocrisy of our laws fascinating: how little folks get tossed in jail so easily by the machine, and how our leaders seem to routinely escape this same fate. We as citizens get a law passed, feel like we’re doing good for the ill and sick, then find out years later that our local level of government has obstructed or hijacked our intent, ruining some good folks liberty and pursuit of happiness in the process.


  3. Found this in the news today, the item is dated 03/07/2009: Time has come to legalize pot. It appears to have some good historical legal facts of particular interest to Californians.

    I was most interested in the assertion that California outlawed marijuana in 1913, which is curious timing given that the creation of the Federal Reserve happened in the same year, which itself is directly related to a HUGE focus of Congress the last six months or so, and more recently President Obama’s administration.

  4. Loretta Sanchez, a U.S. Congressional Representative from California, is calling for California to have a pilot program that legalizes marijuana, according to TheHill.

    “Well, certainly, I have seen in my own state of California people over and over voting a big majority the whole issue of marijuana and possession of that,” Sanchez said this morning on CNN. “So maybe it would be a good pilot program to see how that regulation of marijuana might happen in California since the populous, the majority of Californians believe maybe that should happen.”

  5. MPP has another notice up that there’s been another raid on a Medical Marijuana dispensary in California:

    “Yesterday, armed federal DEA agents raided Emmalyn’s California Cannabis Clinic, a licensed medical marijuana facility in San Francisco. This action – seemingly at odds with the recent policy change announced by the U.S. Justice Department – drew the ire of San Franciscans, who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana access.

    MPP, in an email, asked for folks to send an email to the President and AG of the U.S. to stop these raids. I sent one using the default text.

    Copies went to:

    President Barack Obama

    Attorney General Eric Holder

    During your campaign you made a promise to medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. You said that an Obama administration would not use “Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” But on March 25, the DEA did just that, raiding a medical marijuana collective in San Francisco.

    This raid came only days after the attorney general reaffirmed your administration’s commitment to ending the Bush-era tactic of raiding medical marijuana collectives who comply with state laws.

    Please let me know what actions you are taking to ensure that this never happens again.

    Ken Klaser

  6. It will still be sold the old fashion way nobody excuse me no drug dealer wants to regulate his sales and pay taxes just so some fat ass politics in California can make a mint

  7. As sure as I am that the stock market has its up and downs, I am sure there are pros and cons to this bill. The law is a very subjective thing, and many will find loopholes to challenge the ways of the law. The problem is some people will misuse it, and it is up to the powers that be to protect the minorities and the people who will benefit from this bill.

  8. California is still primarily dominated by the conservative look on Marijuana. Though, to capitalize on a growing industry, I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere within the next few years that the proposition passes. Though, it would give lawyers a lot less work to do in the criminal circuit.

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