The Dream of Legalized Pot
If Colorado and Washington do it, can Florida be far behind? There's no real connection , but the issue of legalized marijuana has a common base within our state. Polls public and private, as in " what do you think about legalizing marijuana?", indicate a willingness to legalize marijuana as part of a dropping of the war on drugs which most think has been a failure.
Forget that the big M is a small part of the blend of cocaine, heroin, synthetic, and prescription drugs in which our country is awash. Legalizing marijuana is touted as a money saver (police don't have to worry about it), people saver (fewer people going to jail), life saver (medical use), money raiser (we can tax it), better for you and society than alcohol, and job creator (workers are needed to make, distribute and sell it). Then there are those pure libertarians - I'm tempted to join them- who say take whatever drug you want, use it to your heart's content, or until your body and brain gives up. It's your problem not mine. It's not just a state issue, by the way.
It's illegal under federal law, but the president has said that the Justice Department has other more important things to do than chase pot users.
However, before lighting up and enjoying your freedom here, where it is illegal, or in Colorado where it isn't, some technical issues remain to be settled. Colorado's wrestling with this. The first thing is who should be allowed to use marijuana and is it just for smoking or as a food additive.
At what age should it be allowed: no age limit, 16, 18, 21? High school kids seem to be using it now, and at 18 you can fight in a war, and at 21 alcohol's ok. Then there's the issue of strength. Today's maryjane isn't the 60s hippie brand. Who oversees that or don't we worry about that? Should it be labelled like all other products?
Strength and quality are concerns. So, what are the determinants? What about where you can smoke? There are restrictions on smoking nicotine now. Do these apply to marijuana? If smoking marijuana doesn't harm the lungs or body as some contend, then second hand smoke shouldn't be a problem. Or, can you get high on second hand smoke? Talk about a cheap date. Besides, it smells better than tobacco.
What about marijuana as a food or part of food? Who and how does this get regulated? Should there be a limit on the amount that can be sold? What about driving a motor vehicle? How much is too much? How do we measure it? What about a toke at lunch time during work hours?
What about growing for your personal use? Can you share or even sell small amounts to friends as in a shared cost? What if colleges and universities don't want it used on their campuses? Is synthetic marijuana the same as natural marijuana?
Then there are the regulations and controls on the business side. If it is going to be taxed - and that is one of the big arguments for legalization - government will not take kindly to those who do not pay the tax. Marijuana has to be grown, harvested, processed, packaged, distributed, marketed, and sold. Each of those steps require some parameters or regulations and most certainly taxation. That requires good bookkeeping and auditing and all that.
The people who can relate to this best are the bankers, financiers, accountants, lawyers, and finally and most importantly, the manufacturers. So much for the dream of the little entrepreneur dealing with his small community. It just might revitalize the tobacco industry which is struggling as countries all over the world fight smoking (Russia has started banning smoking in public). North Carolinians in particular know how to grow, process, package and market. Might be good for the paper industry, too. By the way, can you make a marijuana cigar? Not the same kind of leaves to roll, but what about a blend or tobacco leaves and marijuna? Oh, there are myriads of possibilities.
All of these regulations and taxes translate into costs not to mention government growth. If controlled, legalized marijuana can't compete with the street brands, street mj (unregulated and untaxed) is going to win.Then what? A war on unlegalized marijuana? Will we be back where we started? Are we going in a circle?
Those pure libertarians make more and more sense every day.
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