Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Communities Brace for Pot Legalization

by Phil Marshall
Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 5:46 PM

California’s Secretary of State certified a ballot measure to legalize pot in California, according to the Chronicle. If the measure passes in November, as some polls suggest it will, California will become the first state to legalize marijuana beyond medical usage.

A Field Poll taken last April found that 56 percent of voters backed the idea of legalization and taxation of marijuana. According to an October 2009 Gallup Poll, 44 percent of Americans were in favor of making marijuana legal while 54 percent opposed it. That same month, the Justice Department announced that it would relax prosecution of medical marijuana users in fourteen states, including California.

While many welcome legalization, some communities are already dependent on pot-growing to support their economies. And they’re bracing themselves for how legalization might affect their livelihoods. According to Eureka’s Times Standard, more than 100 people gathered Tuesday night in Redway, located in Humboldt County, to discuss what those who depend on the marijuana industry will do if pot becomes legalized. “Growers, business owners and community leaders tossed around several ideas of what can be done, including branding, regulatory agencies and — weed tasting rooms.”

Legalization could become a serious issue for Northern California. Many communities have been hit by declining revenue in their logging and fishing industries and feel they have few other options other than marijuana-growing.

“It isn’t a singular community, it’s very diverse,” said Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace. He cited small-time farmers, people that have a business approach to it, hobbyists, and medical growers. He added that a lot of the community isn’t directly involved in the actual growing of marijuana but have found a niche on the periphery: growing supplies, entertainers, and others. “I think it’s foolish that it’s taken us this long to talk about this.”

Legalization could be beneficial to the state overall. The State Board of Equalization estimates that the state would collect up to $1.38 billion in new revenue from taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana

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