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 Sidelines