Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Washington’s Legalization of Marijuana: What a Long, Strange Trip it Is!

Washington’s Legalization of Marijuana: What a Long, Strange Trip it Is!

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

During the last election cycle we in Washington state were bombarded with reasons to decriminalize marijuana, and my wife and I agreed with and voted for it. Don’t get me wrong, we both stand behind our votes and we’re both waiting for the day when we can look forward to getting a monstrous case of the munchies. But one of the new staples of Washington’s news cycles is “Okay, we’ve decriminalized marijuana. Now what do we do?”

It’s almost like a bad case of be careful what you wish for. Now we’ve got to decide issues that were never discussed or foreseen:

  • How do we regulate the marijuana growers industry? If everybody can do it in their basements, it’s very difficult to reliably tax such small growers. On the other hand, if we restrict growth to only those who can farm marijuana on a large scale, it becomes industrialized and small boutique growers would be crowded out especially once the large growers got a feel for their sudden political power in the state capital.
  • How do we keep marijuana from being smuggled to the other states? I mean, are we (or the surrounding states) really going to set up taxpayer-funded dog-sniffing checkpoints at every road that crosses the border? I don’t think so, but we’ll see where this goes.
  • How does the military keep marijuana from being brought onto its bases here? And then there’s the not-so-small problem of convincing the soldiers, sailors, and Marines that yes, federal and military law does supersede state law. I can see it now: “Okay, troops, it is now against Army regulations to eat brownies in the state of Washington, because if somebody slips you a marijuana brownie, you’ll wind up popping positive on your urinalysis test and you will be royally screwed if that happens.” That last metaphorical phrase, by the way, is not as much of a joke as non-military people might think; military justice is no laughing matter.
  • How do we desensitize our drug dogs to keep them from detecting marijuana when we’re searching for illegal drugs?
  • How do we license sellers? Particularly internet sellers?

There are many more issues than these, but you get the idea. The only real solution will be nationwide decriminalization of marijuana, but that’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a long, messy slog chock full of slips, falls, and finger-pointing, but the foot’s almost into the door. Once the first marijuana stores are legally open for business in both Washington state and Colorado, it will only be a matter of time before it goes nationwide. I can’t help but wish I could be there to see the looks on the faces of the people I grew up with in Mississippi when it becomes legal there.

Powered by

About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Malcolm Kyle

    We won’t need to wait much longer. Until recently, support for pot legalization was political suicide, it’s so mainstream now that even many republicans including Pat Robertson’s screaming Jesus crowd are on board. 
     
    Prohibition is an awful flop,  
    We like it.  
    It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop,  
    We like it.  
    It’s filled our land with vice and crime,  
    It’s left a trail of graft and slime,  
    It don’t prohibit worth a dime,  
    Nevertheless we’re for it.? —Franklin P. Adams 1931 In reaction to recommendations of a panel of ‘experts’ concerning continued enforcement of the Volstead Act. 
     
    The United States re-legalized certain drug use in 1933. The drug was alcohol. The 21st amendment re-legalized its production, distribution and sale. Alcohol consumption and violent crime dropped immediately as a result. And very soon after, the American economy climbed out of that same prohibition engendered abyss into which it had foolishly fallen.

  • Jerry

    Regarding your first question about growers, this is not a real problem. Just tax and license growers and don’t worry about people growing it in their basement for themselves and their friends. I hear the argument all the time that everyone will just grow their own, and it’s really stupid. We don’t grow our own tomatoes, why would we grow our own pot? If you build a market, they will come.

    Regarding your second and third questions re border states and military, it’s not your (Washington state’s) problem. Let those states and the military enforce their own prohibition if they’re still so deluded as to think it’s either just or worth the cost. Part of the reason for legalization is to eliminate these non-problems. Washington should not have to take responsibility to continue a failed policy for others just because you have sense enough to abandon it yourselves.

    Your fourth question is valid, and is being worked on. Your last question is also valid, but easily solvable. Just follow the alcohol model.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jerry –

    No offense, guy, but it’s not nearly as simple a matter as you seem to think.

    – We don’t grow our own tomatoes because they’re fairly cheap, whereas marijuana is estimated to sell for over $100 an ounce. Do you really, truly think that people won’t grow their own if it will save them hundreds or thousands of dollars a year? Come now!

    – The military is a major part of Washington state’s economy, more so than any other states that I know of other than Virginia and Hawaii…and when the military has a problem, so do the counties and the state. For instance, what happens if the military decides to pack up and leave? All of a sudden that’s billions of dollars of business (and many millions of dollars of tax revenue) that suddenly goes away. Been there, done that, and I do have a clue about the military (retired Navy).

    – If we’re doing something in Washington state that’s resulting in crime spikes in the surrounding states (with all the ruined lives that such crimes bring), that quickly becomes a very big issue in other states, especially when it’s costing each of them additional millions in taxpayer dollars.

    These are not simple matters, Jerry. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret my vote for a moment. But it’s sorta like we in Washington state have a collective case of deer-in-the-headlight eyes, just like a young adult does when they’re living on their own for the very first time. We’ll get there, but it won’t be anywhere near as easy as you seem to think it should be.

  • Dr Dreadful

    We don’t grow our own tomatoes because they’re fairly cheap, whereas marijuana is estimated to sell for over $100 an ounce. Do you really, truly think that people won’t grow their own if it will save them hundreds or thousands of dollars a year?

    You wouldn’t dream of taxing people who grow tomatoes for their own consumption, so why on earth would you want to tax private pot growers?

    And the reason pot has become so expensive is that it’s been illegal. The high price per ounce compensates growers for the risk and the limited quantities they can safely grow without being detected by law enforcement. Remove the illegality and the price will come down.

    For instance, what happens if the military decides to pack up and leave? All of a sudden that’s billions of dollars of business (and many millions of dollars of tax revenue) that suddenly goes away.

    That’s certainly a problem, but not one that has anything even tenuously to do with marijuana legalization.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “We don’t grow our own tomatoes because they’re fairly cheap, whereas marijuana is estimated to sell for over $100 an ounce.”

    Glenn, considering a quarter ounce goes for about $100, that is fairly cheap for an ounce.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    You wouldn’t dream of taxing people who grow tomatoes for their own consumption, so why on earth would you want to tax private pot growers?

    One of the major reasons why pot-growing and -selling needs to be taxed is because we need the state revenue, and besides, comparing weed to tomatoes is a much greater threat than comparing apples to oranges.

    And the reason pot has become so expensive is that it’s been illegal. The high price per ounce compensates growers for the risk and the limited quantities they can safely grow without being detected by law enforcement. Remove the illegality and the price will come down.

    Down to what? $50 an ounce? Remember, the sellers will charge all the market will bear, and liquor prices jumped significantly once selling it was shifted from government-run stores to private stores this past election (yes, up until this past election, liquor could only be sold in government stores here).

    That’s certainly a problem, but not one that has anything even tenuously to do with marijuana legalization.

    It most certainly does in that it may be a side effect of legalization, just as the stink of passing gas doesn’t have anything even tenuously to do with the biological need to pass gas, but it’s certainly a result thereof.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Down to what? $50 an ounce?

    No-one knows yet, but a 50% reduction would sound pretty damn good if I were a Washington pot consumer.

    It most certainly does in that it may be a side effect of legalization

    If you seriously think the military is going to up sticks and abandon a strategically vital region just because the legal status of a plant has changed, you’re wandering dangerously close to Pablo territory.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Pot needs to be legal everywhere and taxed the same as cigs. Have you noticed that cigs are $13. a carton in NYC? Also, lung cancer deaths are headed down according to Bloomberg.

  • Glen Contrarian

    Doc –

    No, I don’t think the military will pack up lock, stock, and barrel…but I do think there’s a likelihood that they’ll reduce their presence here somewhat as a result. It might not seem like a big deal to you, but when you start seeing a significant portion of your unit being kicked out for drugs, it does a number on your morale and your overall combat effectiveness. Notice that I’m not opposing the law – I voted for it and would again – but I’m simply pointing out the thought processes of military leaders. Gay marriage they could handle, but this is a whole different matter in their eyes.

%d bloggers like this: