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Putting pot on the front burner

March 01, 2009

Re "Reefer-tax madness," editorial, Feb. 25

AB 390 is more than just an "ill-considered taxation scheme."

I introduced the bill not only to address California's economic crisis but to begin a discussion about how best to regulate the state's largest cash crop, estimated to be worth roughly $14 billion a year.

Regulating and controlling marijuana would make it less available to youth, protect public lands, generate new revenue and improve public safety by allowing law enforcement agencies to focus their efforts on serious crimes.

In the end, we may disagree about what direction to take, but it is clear that our current approach is not working.

During my tenure as a supervisor in San Francisco (yes, as The Times notes, where else?), I developed the city's first universal health coverage program, proactively addressing an issue that previously had been left to the federal government.

I believe we must bring equally innovative solutions to the issue of marijuana. We must not stand idly by and wait for the federal government to act. This spirit is what makes California great: We lead, not follow.

Tom Ammiano

San Francisco

The writer is a Democratic Assembly member from San Francisco.

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