Washington is among the top five pot-producing states, producing a $1 billion-a-year crop that is second in value only to the state’s famed apple harvest, according to an analysis released this week by a public-policy researcher.
Hmm. If the state legalized and taxed pot at the same rate it taxes non-cigarette tobacco products (75 percent of the retail price,) that would produce about $750 million in revenues a year.
Yeah, yeah… I’m making a lot of bogus assumptions there, but the point is that our embarrassingly ineffective war on drugs has only succeeding in creating a burgeoning black market, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues… not to mention the many millions more spent interdicting, prosecuting and jailing pot offenders. This is money that could not only be spent on important public services like health care and education, but also on treatment and prevention programs that couldn’t possibly be any less effective than our existing efforts at interdiction.
There’s absolutely no way to prevent people from growing, selling and consuming pot. It isn’t just climate or an abundance of hippies that makes WA a prime pot-growing region — hell, Tennessee and Kentucky rank second and third respectively, for a combined $9.4 billion crop that makes WA look like a community pea-patch. So if we can’t stop farmers from growing reefer in the heart of the old Confederacy, how are we going to stop it here in the liberal-tarian Northwest?
Of course, we can’t.
Prohibition just doesn’t work, and at least when it comes to the relatively innocuous social harm caused by marijuana — arguably less harmful than alcohol — it just doesn’t make sense. That’s reality. I’m not saying we should encourage or promote our local pot industry, but it’s far past time we legalize, regulate and tax it.
As for those who continue to attempt to make rational arguments in favor of marijuana prohibition, well… I don’t know what they’re smoking.
I did occasionally smoke pot during college, but no longer do because it now makes me physically uncomfortable. So I have no dog in this fight.