- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California’s legislative analyst and finance director estimate that legalizing marijuana for recreational use could net as much as $1 billion in new tax revenue for the state and local governments.

Finance Director Michael Cohen and Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor produced the estimate based on the provisions of the leading pot legalization initiative proposed for the November ballot.

The initiative’s backers - a coalition spearheaded by former Facebook president Sean Parker that includes advocacy groups and entrepreneurs - were cleared on Wednesday to start collecting the 365,880 signatures needed to qualify the measure.

They say they already have raised $1.25 million to jumpstart the process.

Taylor and Cohen note that the initiative would direct most taxes on marijuana sales and production to covering the state’s regulation costs, research on legalization’s effects, substance abuse treatment and other related purposes.

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