Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Solve the budget crisis by legalizing marijuana?

We tax alcohol and cigarettes. But for marijuana, we let the sellers keep all the profit.

When I read that San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis had arrested (at taxpayer expense) some people who were making $100,000 a week from their marijuana dispensary, I thought, why is the government paying instead of profiting from this?

Much marijuana ado about nothing

By Arthur Salm, SDNN
October 5, 2009

The marijuana is distributed to members of a cooperative of medical patients who have received doctor's authorization to use the drug to treat their illnesses, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Unlike several other states which permit marijuana sales to patients, Washington requires patients to grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.

...Some of the local establishments that have been authorized to dispense marijuana for medical reasons may have been dispensing marijuana to individuals who may have partaken of the substance for non-medical reasons. Worse, the establishments may have dispensed the aforementioned substance with full knowledge, or at least, a pretty damn good idea that their customers intended to go straight home and crank up “Dark Side of the Moon,” and don’t even pretend that you don’t know what I mean.

In response, more than a dozen clinics in San Diego County were shut down last month. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declared that “These so-called businesses are not legal. They appear to be run by drug dealers who see an opening in the market and a way to make a fast buck.”

She could well be right about that, because that’s pretty much what drug dealers, whether standing on the street corner or paying rent on a storefront, do: see an opening in the market as a way to make a fast buck...

Now the San Diego City Council has decided to — you’ll never guess — actually, you probably will — create a task force to study the medical marijuana problem; appointments to the 11-member task force recommended by Council President Ben Hueso is listed as ITEM-125 on the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting. And, to be fair, the medical marijuana problem is, in fact, complicated. The city has no real guidelines, for example, so the joints can open just about anywhere that’s zoned commercial. Nobody even seems to be quite sure of how many there are in the county. And - can just about anybody run them? Can just about anybody get a prescription? Is it better to use one rolling paper, or two? Is the scene with the apes at the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey” supposed to have really happened, or is it allegory?

But the real problem lies in the premise: that what we are dealing with is some kind of special, deadly serious issue, when it most certainly is not. Marijuana is simply not very harmful, and everyone with a lick of sense knows it. Of course it can be abused, but so can dark-chocolate nonpareils, which is why my mother makes sure there’s only a small handful of them in her apothecary jar when I come to visit.

All of the complications, headaches and frustration we’re grappling with right now spring from nearly a century of American society’s ground-level, fundamental bungling . Cannabis was demonized for a goulash of reasons we won’t rehash here, but not one of them passes the Martian test: Could you explain this to a Martian and not sound like an idiot?

Human: “Okay, well, we allow people to ingest liquids that alter consciousness. The negative short-term effects can be disorientation, nausea, and, if too much is ingested, death. Long-term effects can include chemical dependence, organ damage, and death. Adults are allowed to drink it, but its sale is regulated; special licenses must be obtained, one for selling it in sealed bottles and cans, another for ingestion on the premises. It is heavily taxed. Leaders of countries traditionally drink a nominal amount in each other’s presence, for broadcast around the world.”

Martian: “Is the same true for inhaling marijuana smoke that likewise, if in a different fashion, alters human consciousness, but to which not a single death has ever been attributed, and to which some medical benefit has been ascertained?”...

Read more: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-10-05/news/arthur-salm-much-marijuana-ado-about-nothing#ixzz0TB44xi8o

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