California sets marijuana legalization vote for November

California's raucous argument over legalizing marijuana is headed to the ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen confirmed Wednesday that voters will decide in November whether to legalize and tax marijuana use for Californians 21 and over.

As a result, Californians will weigh in on whether legalization is an appropriate next step to medical use of marijuana that voters approved in 1996.

In recent years, hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries have sprouted in California communities. Their presence is a vast departure from the attitudes of voters who roundly rejected a 1972 initiative – Proposition 18 – that first set out to decriminalize pot use in the Golden State.

Proponents of the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010" say the measure's passage could hinge on voters' acceptance of marijuana's potential to rescue California's beleaguered fiscal coffers.

California's annual pot crop is worth about $14 billion, according to the State Board of Equalization. It estimates that legalization and taxation could bring in up to $1.4 billion in revenue.

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