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09 November, 2012

Cannabis Envy

The estate of Mr. Peter McIntosh is reportedly in talks with the State of Washington regarding advertising, Colorado having already inked a deal with the estate of John Denver.
By now, many people have learned, then forgotten, and then totally found out again that voters have legalized marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington (the state, not DC, where congressional overlords will not stand for it). Meanwhile, in the 'lower' 48, everyone else is either bemoaning the collapse of American morality or making travel plans. But we don't need the (church) ladies crying 'cause the story's sad, oh no, 'cause the Rocky Mountain Way is better than the way we had.

Incidentally, the big media news--John (Deutschendorf) Denver fans, every one of 'em, now that Hunter Thompson is gone--all chimed in with "Rocky Mountain High" repartee, missing the much cooler Walsh song for the most part, and coming up empty for Washington. Me too, to be honest. [Although I do think that when it comes time to promote Amsterdam on the Puget, we might want to talk with the Hendrix family about licensing "Are You Experienced?" (wink-wink) for the tourism campaign.]

Smoke pot and you could be this cool!
"Why the obsession with advertising, dude?" I know that's what you're asking. I guess all I can say is that the deal in WA is that yes, it becomes legal (if the federales don't invade), but only in a way subject to regulation, licensing, and taxes. The State won't want to highlight this argument except in retrospect after it has come true, but they finally bought the argument that every stoner for decades has proposed: "Make it legal, slap a tax on it, and kiss your budget woes goodbye." Well wake up, dude, 'cause your dream just came true. Oh, but your dealer is still illegal, and you may not find a store open when you want it, Midnight Toker. [Steve Miller's reference comes in halfway between Denver and Walsh on the official coolness scale, although I personally like the song because my given name happens to be "Space Cowboy."]

But the rest of the country isn't worried about NW stoners having to go to the man to get their weed. A lot of them are plain envious. I was in Oregon this week, and kept hearing people talking about it approvingly, from the guitar duo performing at a brewpub (not such a surprise, even though they kinda had narc haircuts) to a couple of 50-something women. Oregon got their own vote on the subject, and failed, making many of its people green with envy when they gaze across the river. 

One thing that wagging tongues say is that ending reefer Prohibition should tamp down the madness that goes with it. Legal products don't require gangsters or cartels, the logic goes. Unfortunately, we left it illegal for so long that said criminals are entrenched and may decide to corner the legal market (or at least lobby to outsource production) or branch out into other criminal lines of work, like expanding the kidnapping business into US territory. Who knows?

So I guess that's another reason I look at this economically; it's more predictable. Washington and Colorado, as early adopters, have a head start on the money to be made by honest citizens (as well as corporations). Washington's initiative was supposedly crafted to avoid any hint of interstate commerce or anything that would make the feds clamp down,...other than the "We just legalized a Schedule 1 drug prohibited by federal law," aspect, of course. 

But until the clampdown those nice ladies from Oregonian might pay us a visit. There is a sizable 'respectable underground' in this country that would like to smoke pot without worrying about it, and I suspect that there will a pronounced up-tick in people planning trips here to, uh, go salmon fishing, or sailing, or skiing, or hiking, or all those other things that are so fun to do while stoned.

Both Colorado and Washington have outdoors-oriented tourism sectors, which are a good fit with ganja tourism, but other businesses should gain as well. The Seattle music scene stands to become appreciated once more. Excellent craft breweries, wineries, and coffee houses provide models for profitable new revenue streams. Both states boast, I am sure, goodly numbers of professionals who grow very high quality product, as well as legal but struggling farmers who may do very well turning out mass quantities of commodity pot. It will be very interesting to see what niches and markets emerge as hidden talents emerge from the shadows.

So for the time being, only a couple of states have legalized this extremely popular, US-made, un-subsidized, herb. Even if they do not become tourism magnets, Colorado and Washington stand to gain by replacing court and incarceration expenditures with tax and fee revenue. I think there are 15 or so states with legalized 'medical' marijuana, as WA and CO had settled for until this week. [To all the critics who said that was just a sneaky way to legalize pot for recreation, who warned that this medicine was a gateway drug to, uh, well just to more pot--you were right!] The point is that Washington and Colorado might want to consolidate their positions before other states jump on the bandwagon.

Speaking of which, there's always the possibility of national action. I would think that the Republicans in the US House of Representatives would take notice of what looks like a win-win:
  • Legalized pot could be taxed, and the Speaker could act like it's not really a new tax
  • (And besides, it would be a greater burden on liberals than on the GOP, as long as you're not counting the wastrel scions)
  • Supporting legalization might just bring the Libertarians back into the fold
  • It might just work to have liberals lazy and happy
  • In 4-6 years the GOP could claim credit for the whole idea if it works. 
In the meantime, Washington and Colorado will have fun and maybe reap the benefits of liberaltarian policy. The Tea Party will rail against the Wrong plant-based intoxicant and the socialists who smoke it, while grandmas fret about what is happening to the world. The general public might repeat the "Rocky Mountain High" quip, but mostly just won't care. A few (million) will start making travel plans...

1 comment:

  1. Do you think you one could start a dystopiv "Wire" themed marijuana experience in Baltimore among the decaying factory/Rowhouse urban fabric?