Even before its legally sold for fun, marijuana is a big money maker in the Golden State.
The most persuasive argument for legalizing pot might just be a dollar sign.
Of course, there's always the possibility that the federal government would crack down. That risk might make investors too skittish to get involved. Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the government would continue its dangerous raids.
Some regions, such as Mendocino County, have leaned on pot agriculture as other industries dried up. It's estimated that at least half of that county's economy depends on cultivation of the plant.
The only sure thing is that there's no sure thing. Marijuana legalization is uncharted territory. Or at least, it's uncharted in this country. Other countries have managed to figure it out, but here in The Land of the Free, we've clung to prohibition.
Earlier, the state estimated that it could rake in $1.4 billion in taxes if Prop 19 passes, but they've since backed off that estimate, claiming that there are too many unknown variables. Prop 19 would allow each individual municipality to set its own pot regulations, which some detractors have said will create an unwieldy patchwork of laws. Coincidentally, most of those who oppose legalization are those who make money from prohibition: law enforcement agencies and the alcohol industry.
Meanwhile, here in SF, San Francisco Patient and Resource Center has established a gleaming treatment center for medical usage. The attractive, safe space has turned into big business, luring patients from around the city by offering extras like meditation classes, social events, and art.