Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Committee passes marijuana legalization bill, but bill dies

SACRAMENTOCalifornia lawmakers took a historic first step toward legalizing marijuana when an Assembly committee approved legislation that would put the drug on the open market as a regulated and taxed product.

Almost simultaneous with the passage, however, the bill died — for now. With a Jan. 22 deadline nearing for approving legislation from last year and no agreement to take it up in the Health Committee, where it must go before it reaches the Assembly floor, the author of the bill, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has vowed to reintroduce it.

"This is a significant vote because it legitimizes the quest for debate, legitimizes the quest for discussion," Ammiano said. "This is far from over. Not only did we get it out of public safety, but members are now willing to say, yes, this is worthy of discussion."

Advocates hailed the narrow passage of the bill, AB390 — it was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 4-3 vote — as a major breakthrough that will lead to a national legalization movement.........

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