Marijuana advocates use 4-20 to celebrate

It’s April 20th… 4-20, in other words. That number, in case you didn’t know, is slang for smoking marijuana.

4-20 is a good day to think about marijuana’s place in California. To marijuana’s biggest fans, it’s harmless recreation — or important medicine — or the solution to the state’s chronic budget troubles.

The next big day for marijuana won’t be 4-20 but 11-2… as in November 2nd. That’s when California voters will decide whether to pass a measure to legalize and tax marijuana. Pot proponents insist that if the measure passes, California’s economy will finally collect the profits from the state’s biggest cash crop.

“I think the idea of taxing marijuana as a legal product that’s going to raise money for the state is a complete pipe dream,” said Joel Hay, a professor of pharmaceutical economics and policy at USC.

“It’s just not going to be the case that this is going to help the state of California deal with its enormous deficit issues… the cost to the state in addition to the medical costs are going to be in the billions because we’ll be in direct conflict with federal law.”

A new Associated Press-CNBC poll says 55 percent of California voters will “just say no” to the marijuana measure – but the election is a long way from now. If the initiative passes in November, California would be the first state in the nation to make pot smoking legal.