Great Moments in Marijuana History: Ammiano's Legalization Bill Up For Vote Today
In a move proponents are billing the "first formal consideration of Marijuana legalization in American history," the public safety committee of the state assembly will today vote on Tom Ammiano's ganja bill.
The San Francisco assemblyman last year earned his place in the pot pantheon by authoring "AB 390," a bill that proposed for the regulation and taxation of Marijuana in a manner similar to what is already the case with alcohol. This, he claimed, would reap the state more than $1 billion a year.
At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, AB 390 will come up for a yea or nay committee vote. Ammiano himself is chairman of the public safety committee -- and, purportedly, his colleagues like him. The assemblyman's staff and allies predict the bill will receive the four votes needed to pass.
"We believe we have the votes to move it out of committee," said Quintin Mecke, Ammiano's spokesman. "Sacramento being what it is, you never quite know, but we're confident."
And that would ostensibly be a big deal -- and the meaning behind the phrase "formal consideration." While a number of governmental bodies have passed purely symbolic measures regarding pot legalization, today's is a vote, on the state level, by the body that could actually legalize pot. In other words, this is what all of San Francisco's useless Board of Supervisors resolutions regarding national and foreign policy wish they could be.
Democrats hold five of the seven seats in the public safety committee. Should AB 390 pass today, it will next come before the health committee, perhaps as early as this week. And that vote is no slam dunk.
Democrats hold 13 of the committee's 19 seats -- and Ammiano sits on this committee too, which is run by Assemblyman Dave Jones, darling of San Francisco progressives. But "more of these Democrats could be considered more moderate," says Aaron Smith, the California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "And there's more folks to convince."
A "no" vote in either committee will kill Ammiano's bill. If it passes through both, however, it'll land on the Assembly floor -- perhaps before the end of the month.
The chances of that happening? Long enough that no one would actually say so. But, when asked if he believes in moral victories, Smith emphatically answered in the positve. "If we get out out of one committee, it'll be a huge milestone," he said. "We'll be able to build upon this that much more easily in the future."