What could be a resolution to the long-running debate over medical marijuana in Los Angeles and across California took a step forward Friday when backers of a proposal to legalize the drug won the state’s OK to gather petition signatures needed to put the idea before voters.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
If enacted, the state would see a huge financial windfall through law enforcement cost savings and the new taxation of the drug and drug businesses.

More than $100 million in law enforcement costs could be saved if the measure becomes law, according to state officials. In addition, millions would be raised by taxing the drug industry.

The “Marijuana Legalization Initiative Statute” needs 365,880 valid signatures of registered voters in the state to be placed on the November ballot next year. Those signatures must be collected no later than April 26.

The measure would legalize marijuana, create a commission to license and regulate a marijuana industry, impose a tax of 42 cents per gram on “dried marijuana” and $2 per gram on concentrated marijuana and allows for local taxation of up to 10 percent on marijuana sales

According to the state’s legislative analyst and director of finance, the measure would save California “tens of millions of dollars” — or as much as $100 million or more annually — by cutting the costs of current legal enforcement.

The measure would also establish ways “for resentencing of persons convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses.”

According to the state analysis, the measure would provide “net additional state and local tax revenues of potentially up to several hundred million dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, most of which is designated to be spent on drug education and counseling services, state parks, research related to the medical use of marijuana and regulation of commercial marijuana activities.”

— City News Service

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