Schwarzenegger: High Time for Marijuana Debate

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Thursday, Feb 24, 2011  |  Updated 2:40 PM CDT
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Schwarzenegger Open to Debate on Legalizing, Taxing Pot

Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

The governor smokes a cigar. Just a cigar.

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Schwarzenegger Open to Debate on Legalizing, Taxing Pot

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says the debate about legalizing and taxing marijuana should start with an analysis of other nations' experiences.
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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that California should study other nations' experiences in legalizing and taxing marijuana, although he is not supporting the idea.

He said it's time to debate proposals such as a bill introduced in the state Legislature earlier this year that would treat marijuana like alcohol.

At a news conference about public safety funding, the governor was asked whether it's time to legalize marijuana in light of a new Field Poll that said 56 percent of registered voters support legalizing and taxing marijuana to raise revenues.

"I think it's not time for that, but I think it's time for debate," Schwarzenegger said. "All those ideas of creating extra revenues, I'm always for an open debate on it. We ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana. What effect did it have on those countries? Are they happy with the decision? Or are they, for instance in Austria, unhappy? They rolled back some of the decisions that were made in European countries.

"I want to look at all that. It could very well be that everyone is happy with the decision and then we can look at that. If not, then we shouldn't do it. Just because of raising revenues, we have to be careful not to make mistakes at the same time."

State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, said taxing marijuana at $50 per ounce would bring more than $1 billion a year to the state. Ammiano's bill is on hold in the state Legislature. He delayed seeking approval until next year.

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