Groovy: Marijuana Advocates Feel Validated by Latest Field Poll -- 56 Percent of Californians Support Legalizing and Taxing Pot

Tom Ammiano -- the voice of the mainstream?
With all of the propositions on the ballot for this month's special election polling about as well as mandatory enemas, it warrants mentioning that the results of the latest state Field Poll indicate a hefty majority of Californians actually favor  imposing a new tax on themselves. A full 56 percent of residents polled support legalizing -- and taxing -- marijuana.

"Right now people in the Capitol are laughing off the idea of taxing and regulating marijuana. This will show them there's some serious voter support on the issue. We've been saying all along [lawmakers] have been behind the electorate," says Aaron Smith, the Marijuana Policy Project's California policy director.

Actually, one lawmaker could consider lighting up a victory cigar: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill that would legalize -- and tax the hell out of -- pot back in February. AB 390 is currently in legislative suspended animation and won't be discussed again until early next year at the soonest. But Smith is hoping Ammiano has a few more buddies when the bill comes up again as a result of Thursday's poll results.

"Hopefully, Tom gets some co-sponsors," Smith says. "Marijuana needs to be taxed and controlled and not in the hands of criminals."

Other interesting snippets from the Field Poll -- which bills itself as "the independent and non-partisan survey of the public opinion established in 1947 ... by Mervin Field" and is today carried on by San Francisco's Field Research Corporation:

  • A full 80 percent of Californians favor "creating a special tax on the sale of pornography";
  • Increasing state alcohol taxes appealed to 74 percent of those polled -- down from 79 percent in 2005 and 86 percent in 1983 (hey, it's a recession and people want their drinks!);
  • Just over half of the respondents -- 51 percent -- are in favor of imposing sales taxes on Internet users who buy from out-of-state sellers (which sounds way more complicated than taxing pot);
  • Only 27 percent of the populi want to increase gasoline taxes, a 10 percent drop from 1995.

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