The country is going to pot - Albuquerque Journal

The country is going to pot

No, this is not a rant about Trumpers or anti-Trumpers or wall-builders versus open-borderers. This country is simply and directly going to pot.

Weed, cannabis, dope, doobie, maryjane or whatever the term for marijuana happens to be today, the laws to halt the stoning of America by those substances are now being loosened or trampled on by state legislatures. While it is still a federal crime to possess, buy, or sell marijuana, 29 states have legalized the federally controlled substance in some form, and seven states now allow the sale, purchase and possession of marijuana for recreational use.

In Colorado, mom-and-pop stores with names such as “Gas and Grass” have sprung up in communities across the state, with government approval. Bakeries and not-so-Famous-Amos cookie franchises now sell spiked or “enhanced” sweet goods. Even sampling brownies from the local Sunday market in the square might get a person higher than John Denver’s Rocky Mountains.

In 2018, California allows a person to possess at any one time one ounce of weed – of course sold now by a legal and licensed retail provider. …

Not only are the state governments approving of marijuana use, but now some pastors and priests are claiming the Good Lord himself has given his blessing on the partaking. There has arisen a new religion founded on faith, hope and cannabis. Within this new religion, new and transformed churches of divine inhalation are offering pot as a sacrament: break the bread, drink the cup and smoke the joint. Ironically, these churches are competing with state-sanctioned marijuana dispensaries, but without the licensing and taxation on the ground of religious freedom.

Lest anyone think these new enabling laws are being enacted because of voters’ wishes or political leniency, think again. It’s about money. Apart from some credible medicinal uses of marijuana, there is no compelling reason to legalize recreational drug use apart from the almighty dollar. Legalizing marijuana does not defeat the underground drug trade, but rather shields many drug dealers by setting them up behind government-sanctioned retail counters. Yet the black market still resides in marijuana legal states, ironically high due to high government taxation on the product itself.

It is projected that California will collect an extra $1 billion annually in tax revenue as a result of the legalization of pot. That amount will be even greater when taxes on marijuana sales and distribution are raised as soon as politicians (find a) reason to do so. These dollars California will raise are themselves like a drug to governors and legislatures of other states as a means to increase their state’s treasury. But this new source of revenue will come at a cost.

For example, in cities of Colorado where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the homeless population increase has put a strain on city and community resources. This influx of people and the resulting resource drain has caused the governor and legislature to re-think the allocation of their new-found tax and fees revenue. The resulting decision to divert much of that money toward homeless shelters, meals and vocational aid is itself creating further financial strain as even more homeless gravitate to the state where drugs – now blended with food, shelter and clothing – are readily accessible. What weed addict wouldn’t want a joint to smoke if it comes with a joint to sleep and a joint to eat?

In Oregon, a portion of marijuana taxes goes to drug prevention and treatment services. It almost sounds like atonement for growing richer by making legal a substance that can lead to abuse. …

While the question remains whether marijuana is a gateway drug, there is no doubt the gate is wide open for more and more states legalizing its sale and use. Will the federal government follow suit? The temptation of billions of dollars of new revenue could entice lawmakers to legalize a long-illegal industry. Where is this going and what will eventually shake out is anyone’s guess. But right now, it appears the country is going to pot.

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