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Legalize recreational marijuana in California?

Should marijuana be legalized in California? Public opinion is shifting in favor of legalized pot.
January 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Should marijuana be legalized in California? What would that mean for the state? Colorado and Washington are the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. And that experiment is being watched closely in California. Public opinion is shifting in favor of legalized pot.

Business is booming at recreational pot shops in Denver, which opened on New Year's Day. Some want that to happen in California.

"Thirty, 40 years into the war on drugs, and particularly when it comes to marijuana, that that was a failed initiative that we've spent billions of dollars putting people away," said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a poll in October that shows 65 percent of Californians are in favor of legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana in the state; 27 percent strongly oppose it.

"There is no doubt any longer that marijuana is a gateway drug. Of the hundreds of people who die every day of overdose on other drugs, virtually every one of them started with marijuana," said Scott Chipman, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is heading a panel to come up with recommendations for a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. Proponents say there would be restrictions.

"People do want to make sure that minors don't have any more access to marijuana," said Villagra.

"This is a serious concern for our future," said Chipman. "A productive, healthy society requires sober citizens."

In Colorado residents can buy 1 ounce of cannabis, which costs $200 or more. People from out of state can buy up to a quarter-ounce.

People in Los Angeles have mixed feelings about legalizing marijuana.

"We have enough problems with people that are drunk driving behind the wheel, so you're going to have the same amount of people," said L.A. resident Eulalia Luevano. "How are they going to regulate that?"

"I think it would be a source of tax revenue, that's for sure, but I think regulating it, I think that would be the tricky part," said L.A. resident Andrew Tap.

"It's kind of a good and a bad, and I'm not quite sure which way I would vote," said L.A. resident Stephanie Pelentay.

Proponents say it will be on the ballot; the question is when. Some say they'd like to see how things work out in Colorado and wait until 2016. But others don't want to wait, they want to start gathering signatures now and get it on the ballot for November.


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