Legalization: By Any Means Necessary?

4 comments, 02/03/2009, by , in Opinion
After I wrote the last post [link] on why I believe marijuana won’t boost the economy, I got a lot of support and a lot of flack. I got support from people who understand what I am trying to do. I got a lot of flack from people who, I find, don’t give a damn. I find myself between two evils, both stemming from greed. Unfortunately, most people probably won’t bother reading. They’ll ignore common sense because for them legalization is the only thing that matters.

Marijuana legalization advocates, specifically, seem to not care about HOW marijuana is legalized, as long as it is legalized. This exhibition of “weed greed” is a major problem for me. Advocates don’t have a problem quoting big numbers to entice politicians who are suffering from “tax greed”. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proves my point. He claims that California can reap in $1.3 billion in tax revenues per year [link]. And, I know this is a number that’s been quoted by legalization groups in the past [link]. I also believe that those numbers are not at all feasible.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that legalization will be a boost to the economy. I simply do NOT believe in the exorbitant numbers quoted by marijuana advocates and politicians who believe in those numbers. At the same time, I don’t blame advocates for appealing to political greed on this issue. Greed seems to be the ultimate driving force of this economy anyway.

Assemblyman Ammiano proposed a fixed tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana. While I can appreciate the opportunity that he brings in opening the floor to debate, I find this tax to be completely reckless and a danger to legalization efforts. While it may cause politicians to salivate and froth at the mouth, it’s not an honest number to start with in a real debate. However, that’s what a debate is all about. We can’t have a real debate with people willing to misinform the public.

In my previous post [link], I did something that may have pissed off fans of legalization. I discussed common sense economics. My argument is simple to anyone who has taken freshman level economics. It must have been scary to them to see a serious argument based on real numbers and the precedent of alcohol prohibition. Comments to my post seem to almost make up the idea that potheads will drive this economic revolution.

We seem to forget that potheads are human beings. We seem to forget that marijuana is not addictive. We seem to discount the idea of competition. And, we seem to discount any concept of supply vs demand. It’s these misconceptions that allude to these large numbers. It seems very obvious to me that typical potheads don’t understand, don’t care to understand, or are just willing to misinform anyone on their willingness to pay these prices.

If we adjust pricing for competition and increased supply vs demand, $50 per ounce ammounts to extortion. A commenter mentioned that potheads wouldn’t have a problem paying 75% in taxes, that is, after pricing adjustments. Well I am a pothead and grower and I will NOT pay $50 per ounce extra. While it may seem necessary to keep up that farce to get what we want, it’s a thin veil, easily broken. Once the real economists see these plans, they’re not going to agree at all.

It’s very much legalization by any means necessary.

It’s my view that if marijuana is to be legalized then we ought to legalize it for the right reasons. Greed is never the right reason to do anything. As I’ve mentioned before, there is greed on both sides of the issue. Legalize marijuana because it’s safe. Legalize marijuana because it’s helpful. Legalize marijuana because it’s the smart thing to do.

If we usher in legalization based on greed, we do more harm to national efforts than we will ever realize.

I don’t believe marijuana will bring in over $1 billion in tax revenues to California. Simply read my last post as to why I believe it [link].

  • What will happen if marijuana doesn’t bring in $1.3 billion in taxes?
  • What will happen nationally if California doesn’t perform as expected?
  • What will happen if legalized marijuana doesn’t beat prohibition-era pricing?
  • Would one still pay $50 more if they can get the same marijuana for $50 less?
If I am right, we go back to combating the same arguments as before because we stopped combating them due to greed. It won’t be worth it to legalize marijuana if people still think that it’s a dangerous substance. It won’t be worth it to legalize marijuana if high taxes drive the black market. And, there will be various groups supported by the DEA, tobacco companies, alcohol companies, and pharmaceutical companies as well as others who will make every effort to prove legalization is a failure. Advocates and politicians have been blinded by greed to the point that they don’t even care to further address these issues.

It’s silly that one kind of misinformation, spurred by greed, is overriding another kind of misinformation, spurred by fear. I feel that we’ve come a long way as it pertains to general public opinion. Marijuana is more widely accepted. This legalization for economy push, although in the right direction, is for the wrong reasons. Legalization is going to be based on a weak foundation of money that may not materialize rather than the strong foundation of common sense and intelligence.

I am not an opponent of legalization. I am an opponent of weak policy, greed, and stupidity.

I am for marijuana legalization. It’s the right path for the United States. It will bring in some tax revenue and will also save a lot of money on police expenditures. However, if California messes this up by NOT meeting demands or expectations, I believe it will push national legalization efforts back by a lot. I already believe they won’t meet those expectations. I’d rather have an honest debate about the nature of marijuana than a misinformation campaign about a boost to the economy that will disappoint.

We ought to have an honest debate with doctors, scientists, and researchers instead of this silly war of words we get caught up in between advocates who can only quote unnamed experts. Is it so wrong of me to ask for honesty in the debate. Is it so wrong of me to question motives? Is it so wrong of me to be so honest? I suppose to many fans of legalization, it is wrong of me to be honest. Unfortunately, they sound a lot like the DEA who routinely misinforms the public about marijuana.

I want to be wrong. I need to be wrong. But, I will not ignore history. I will not ignore other precedents. I will not ignore the lessons of alcohol prohibition. Legalize marijuana the right way. This is not the right way.

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About anthonytaurus

  • I think my vision parallels what most marijuana advocates want to see which an industry much like the one for alcohol or tobacco. You can go into any store and buy a pack of marijuana cigs without any problems. You take it home, you smoke it, and that’s it.

    At the same time, I find it weird that the discussion doesn’t even include a hemp industry. This is one of my main reasons for believing this current legalization effort, not just in CA alone, is blinded by greed. Outside of farmers in the midwest suing, and failing, to legalize hemp, no one’s even thinking about it. If anything, I’d figure this would be considered long before marijuana.

  • Anonymous

    What is your vision of a post prohibition/legal situation? A non-government involved industry would, I think, be the best. Maybe similar “controls” as there is with alcohol. It would be a shame to lose the knowledge and skill of those who presently take great care in cultivating potent, organic material to smoke. Additionally, the discussion could include garden supply businesses, light system businesses, hydroponic businesses. I agree the greed incentive will lead to failure.

  • Anonymous

    I wish we had that kind of debate here in France.

    In the words of our contemporary singer, Nate Dogg :

    “Smoke weed every day”