via Sacramento Bee
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday it’s time for California to study whether to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use, though he’s not yet advocating for such a change.
The governor was asked about a recent Field Poll showing that 56 percent of registered voters support legalizing and taxing marijuana to raise revenues for cash-strapped California. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has proposed legislation that would legalize the drug for recreational use, rather than just medical purposes.
“Well, I think it’s not time for that, but I think it’s time for a debate,” Schwarzenegger said. “I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues, I’m always for an open debate on it. And I think we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs, what effect did it have on those countries?”
He said his native Austria is revisiting some of its marijuana laws, for instance. The Austrian Parliament last year authorized cultivation of medical marijuana.
“It could very well be that everyone is happy with that decision and then we could move to that,” Schwarzenegger said of other nations’ legalization policies. “If not, we shouldn’t do it. But just because of raising revenues … we have to be careful not to make mistakes at the same time.Schwarzenegger previously has shown a casual attitude toward marijuana. He was filmed smoking a joint in the 1977 film, “Pumping Iron.” And he told the British version of GQ in 2007, “That is not a drug. It’s a leaf.” Spokesman Aaron McLear downplayed the governor’s comment as a joke at the time.
California alone could not easily legalize pot, given that it remains a federally regulated substance. Ammiano said in March he is hoping President Barack Obama would allow California to move toward legalization.
Schwarzenegger appeared Tuesday at a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection facility in Davis to promote “Wildfire Awareness Week.”