Legalizing recreational pot use could boost California's economy, supporters say

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If voters choose to legalize recreational marijuana this November, new economic opportunities will begin flourishing in California. (KABC)

If voters choose to legalize marijuana this November, new economic opportunities will begin flourishing in California.

For nearly 20 years, medicinal marijuana has been legally calling California home. Voters approved it in 1996, and now Proposition 64 could legalize the recreational use of pot.

"This is indeed going to have a very, very substantial effect on California's coffers," John Kagia said.

John Kagia is with New Frontier Data, a marijuana industry research firm. It says if Prop 64 passes, legal pot sales in California would jump more than 18 percent each year, going from just under $2.8 billion a year to $6.5 billion by 2020.

The state would also see a big jump in tax revenue, Kagia said. He added that the state will earn more than $1 billion in taxes when the market is fully operational.

But the social cost of that revenue is too great to ignore, opponents said. They point to Colorado, which allows recreational pot use.

"The social consequences on youth, on crime, on drugged driving has just been exponential. Colorado proved that the money that they thought they were going to get never materialized," John Berry said.

John Berry with the group CALM, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said the biggest argument against the proposition is that it's written to open the door to televised marijuana advertising.

But Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing for Prop 64 to pass.

"Federal law prohibits advertising. It's a felony to broadcast," he said.

He said America's war on drugs is a failed experiment that landed too many minorities behind bars because of marijuana use.

"If California goes, the rest of this country is going to wake up. This is a game changer," he said.

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politicsmarijuanamedical marijuanagavin newsomvotinglegaldrugsCalifornia
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