For the first time in my memory there is now a serious charge to change the draconian marijuana laws on the books in Washington state.
Now that's change I can believe in.
The recent push is much more than a bunch of hippies advocating for the right to smoke pot. For the first time, in my opinion, the call for marijuana reform is being looked at by just about everybody with any common sense. And the thing pushing this charge is what pushes just about everything else...Money!
Washington voters will more than likely have three measures on the ballot dealing with marijuana come this November. Some legislators want to legalize the drug and tax it. The money that could be saved by legalization would be astronomical. The money that could be generated through taxes is unfathomable.
According to the Drug Administration Agency, marijuana seizures in 2008 totaled 154,410 pounds in Washington state. That's a lot of pot, but who really believes the DEA got it all. Who really believes the DEA got 20 percent of it.
I don't, but for argument's sake let's say the DEA managed to bumble their way to seizing 50 percent of all the marijuana in Washington state in 2008. That would mean there was roughly 308,820 pounds of marijuana floating around our state in 2008. There was more, but like I said, for arguments sake we'll say 308,820 is right.
The DEA likes to inflate the numbers on so-called 'street prices', but I won't do that. But let's assume the 308,820 pounds is high-quality marijuana demanding $2,500 a pound. According to High Times magazine's price index, that's pretty cheap but we're assuming everything is legal here.
At $2,500 a pound, Washington residents would have spent approximately $772,048,200 on marijuana in 2008. Again, that's wholesale prices so we can safely assume there would actually be more spent on the drug.
If the state takes its cut, say 10 percent, it would have banked $77,204,820 in taxes from marijuana in 2008. That's a number that's been dumbed down to make a point. In reality, the amount of money the state would receive in taxes would probably be five times that. That money could be used for a lot of things, like roads, police, education and most importantly of all, anti-drug education.
So you can see why for the first time people are really taking marijuana reform seriously. But there is another reason the laws should be relaxed. It's just the right thing to do.
It's completely asinine to pick on marijuana and target its users. Yes, marijuana is bad for you, but is that glass of wine or mug of beer any better for you?
Yes, marijuana is bad for you. The drug makes you lazy, hungry and gives you the ability to rationalize your poor life. But so what?
There are lots of things that are bad for you in life. Too much milk, too much candy, too much meat. Those things aren't illegal, are they?
And as far as a gateway drug, give me a break. Marijuana is not a gateway drug. The gateway drug is alcohol. Do you want proof?
Here it is. How many times have YOU or a friend said, "I can't believe I got so drunk last night that I actually (fill in the blank here)."
I sense heads shaking yes. We've all been there.
Now, how many times have YOU or a friend said, "I can't believe I got so stoned last night that I actually (fill in the blank here)."
Chirp, chirp, chirp. That's the sound of crickets because no one is saying anything.
No, alcohol is a major problem, but I don't hear anyone clamoring to get that nasty drug outlawed. Hmmmmm. I wonder if it has anything to do with how much money is made off alcohol? Just a thought.
How many people die in alcohol-related accidents every year? How often is alcohol involved in domestic violence situations? How many teens get pregnant every year after abusing alcohol?
But the powers that be ignore all that and stand behind the outlawing of marijuana. I say enough.
I bet if the drug was made illegal it wouldn't even be noticed. Why is that? Because people already use it. Heck, Washington residents smoke at least 154,410 pounds a year of the drug.
We have laws in place to handle it. If people smoke and drive, we call that DUI. If a person smokes in a public place, we call that being intoxicated in a public place. If pot is made legal people don't have to worry about taking their kids to the park and seeing a bunch of pot smokers. It's illegal to get intoxicated in our city parks.
I think if everybody just minds their own business and stays out of people's lives, then we'll be a much better society for it and the state just might make a few bucks.
I think that's something the tea baggers can get behind. You know, limited government and all.