Today, California state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bill 390, titled "The Marijuana Control Regulation and Education Act".
The bill's language is not yet available on the Assembly's bill retrieval system, but according to reporters who were at the press conference, the bill enables the state to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
Legislation like this is long overdue. (See my recent drug policy piece for more extensive reasoning.)
Yes, there are federal issues to contend with, but I remain optimistic about bills such as HR 5843 - co-sponsored by Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul - which would decriminalize adult personal possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Eventually either common sense, new leadership, reality or some combination of the three are going to constrain the Feds' ability - and desire - to meddle in the personal lives of responsible adults, and these bills are all steps (however small) in the right direction.
Bills like this make our streets safer by reducing the money, power, and influence of the illegal drug trade.
They also help restore basic civil rights for responsible marijuana users.
And finally, they could help states raise significant revenue to help support the essential public services that are so gravely threatened in these bleak economic times.
California residents interested in expressing support for the bill may do so here.