Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Z_CNHI News Service

March 21, 2014

Legal marijuana can be government's new cash crop

Editor's note: CNHI newspapers that are not weekly subscribers to Taylor Armerding's column may publish this one if they notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

A very mellow good morning … afternoon … evening … whatever. Hey, it’s all good in the land of the free and home of the high.

Or, more specifically, as you’ve probably read, home of the “Rocky Mountain High." I really think that John Denver would be pleased; I suspect that’s what he meant more than imagining standing at 14,000 feet on one of the Collegiate Peaks.

Yes, we are inching our way toward allowing people to get high legally on something other than booze. Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana use; twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical use; and another 14 are considering it.

That’s critical mass. While it’s still illegal at the federal level, I predict the cracks in the prohibition dam will spread. It may not happen as quickly or with as much "civil rights" scolding as the gay marriage movement, but the trend is inexorable.

Justin Hartfield, founder of Weedmaps.com and perhaps the country’s most well-placed entrepreneur to reap billions from that trend, made the same comparison to the Wall Street Journal last weekend.

"What happened with gay marriage is going to happen with marijuana," he said. "Give me 24 months."

It ought to happen, and while it will probably take more than 24 months, it shouldn’t. It is vastly less disruptive and revolutionary than redefining marriage. It will get law enforcement out of the business of arresting and jailing people for nothing worse than having the equivalent of a couple of cocktails with dinner. It will eliminate the absurd equivalence of marijuana with cocaine and heroin.

Most importantly, it will (mostly) remove it from the underground economy, allowing the kind of regulation that now covers alcohol and bringing growers and dealers out of the shadows to become respectable, tax-paying citizens. (More about that “tax-paying” part later.)

I carry no personal brief for pot; I didn’t even try it until I was well past 40, and I’m not a user now. But if alcohol is legal, marijuana should be, too.

It’s probably the most natural high out there. It doesn’t have to be “cooked” like meth. (Thank you, Walter White for showing us all how in “Breaking Bad.”) It doesn’t even have to be fermented. You just grow it, dry it, and smoke it.

Think about how attitudes have changed in the past quarter century. Douglas Ginsburg lost any chance he might have had to become a Supreme Court justice in 1987 after his earlier marijuana use became public. Five years later, it didn’t undermine Bill Clinton’s campaign for president, and don’t try to claim that’s because he supposedly “didn’t inhale.”

By the time Barack Obama was running for president, it was fine to lump it in with “unwise choices” made during a difficult and irresponsible youth, as long as he wasn’t still doing it.

And now? The president still claims he opposes it, but that rings about as true as his emphatic declaration during his campaign that he opposed gay marriage. He still got the full-throated support of the gay community because they knew he was ly- … uh, saying what he needed to say to achieve the greater good of getting elected. Sure enough, at the politically opportune time, the president suddenly “evolved” from being a hateful bigot to a supporter of "equality and civil rights" for all Americans.

There are still some vocal skeptics out there, of course. One of the most ironic and amusing is Gov. Jerry Brown of California - where medical marijuana is legal.

Brown wondered aloud to "Meet the Press" host David Gregory: “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

This is the former “Governor Moonbeam,” and now he’s worried about us being alert 24/7. Is he not aware that a big chunk of the world’s business is conducted over dinner and drinks?

The clincher in all this evolving has nothing to do with morality, protecting children, libertarianism or staying alert. It’s about the money.

Colorado announced that it collected $2 million in taxes from marijuana businesses in January, when things were barely underway. Who knows what the potential is for a year – $50 million, $100 million, more?

I’ve been around enough politicians to know that when that kind of money gets dangled in front of them, their moral outrage goes all wobbly.

Remember when gambling was illegal and considered a vice? Now we call it “gaming," and public officials from sea to shining sea sing the praises of lotteries, casinos and slot parlors as job creators and generators of revenue that allow “investments” in things like – well, you know – the children.

Better education! Better facilities! And it can all be done without raising taxes on “hard-working, middle-class families.”

Pay no attention to those poor or elderly people feeding their Social Security checks into the machines, or to those who used to be middle class until they were seduced by the fun and glamour of losing it on video poker or any number of other harmless “games.”

There’s “revenue enhancement” in vice, and in drugs. For your government, that eventually trumps everything.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller