Gavin Newsom: California Would Gain $1.5 Billion in Revenue if We Legalize Pot

Newsom says Governor Jerry Brown is on the wrong side of the issue

FARROW: "So how much revenue do you think California is leaving on table by not legalizing recreational marijuana?"
NEWSOM: "Well, depending where you tax it and based on various estimates, we've had some independent reports show upwards of $800 million to 1.2, one report showed it as much as $1.5 billion a year in annual revenue. John Hickenlooper estimates, just in the small state of Colorado, some $600 million in revenue, about $134 million in direct taxes would be generated in that state. So that gives a sense."
FARROW: "Governor Brown is a member of your party, he's basically your boss. What inspired you to speak out against him on this issue?"
NEWSOM: "Well, a couple of years ago, I've been frustrated. I remember 1977 when Governor Brown was first in office, we went from indeterminate sentencing determinate sentencing. We had 20,000 people in our prisons, and in 2007 we had 173,000 people in our prisons. You start looking at the war on drugs and corollaries, as it relates to mandatory minimums and our aggressive efforts, particularly as it relates to people of color and poor communities to incarcerate our way to solving this problem, it's failed. A trillion dollars wasted. And I'm just frustrated. With respect to Governor Brown whom I admire greatly and looking forward to serving with him another four years, I think he's wrong on this. And I think it's wrong to use language like pot heads or stoners or hippies. I think this is a serious issue and requires a serious debate. It's impacting too many people and too many lives, and it's costing taxpayers a fortune. I think we have to be honest about it and we have to be very reflective. None of us want to see more drug use, none of us want to see advertising targeted to our kids. I'm a parent of three young kids. I don't want to see them using and abusing the drugs. But let's just disabuse ourselves of this mirage that somehow we could have a drug-free society if we continue on this mass incarceration binge that we've been on the last 40 years. It just hasn't worked, it's time to move in a new direction."

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