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California just gave marijuana smokers a great reason to head to the voting booths this November. With the state facing a major financial crisis, it looks like the drug could be legalized for recreational use in the next election. Pop the hood for details.

California became the first to legalize medical marijuana 15 years ago. Now, the state could become the first to make it legal for recreational use as well.

This week, California decided to put it to a vote in November.

An initiative will be on the ballot to legalize the recreational use of marijuana so that getting high for any reason at all will no longer be a crime.

The measure would allow adults over 21 to buy up to an ounce and grow small amounts, though they wouldn’t be able to use it in public or near minors.

Needless to say, it’s controversial.

“I’m opposed to it,” one California resident said.

Others disagreed. “I think it’s long overdue,” another resident said.

Stephen Gutwillig of the Drug Policy Alliance Network has been pushing the measure for years.

“This initiative is a watershed moment in a decades long struggle to end failed marijuana policies in this country,” Gutwillig said.

But supporters finally got traction for one simple reason: California is broke.

“We face additional cuts,” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

The Tax Cannabis Act, as it’s called, would let local governments collect on every marijuana sale.

Advocates argue the measure could help California dig out of its $20 billion deficit, raising as much as $1.4 billion a year and cutting law enforcement expenses.

That could save the state some $200 million a year, but critics said if the measure passes, the stuff of the TV and movies will become reality, and the state will have a much higher price to pay.

“From a social standpoint, it’s just the cost in what it’s going to do to our communities, our workforce, another intoxicant on the roadway,” Kim Raney with the California Police Chiefs Association said. “It’s going to impact the social fabric of this country for decades to come.”

Right now, pot proponents may have a slight edge.

An April 2009 statewide poll showed 56 percent of California voters support legalizing and taxing marijuana.

“We’ll smoke it here at home and laugh and sing and listen to music and everything’s wonderful,” Carl Burns, who supports marijuana legalization said.

In 1996, California became the first of 14 states to legalize medical marijuana, so some think this new measure could spark another national trend.

“What happens in California resonates nationwide,” Gutwillig said.

SMH at the one guy sounding like he’s still living out his hippie years… It’s not exactly a win win for pot lovers though, don’t forget the state will be taxing what you toke!



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