economic woes may lead to a ‘greener’ california (and i’m not talking about the environment)

california is seeking a ‘green rush’ to solve its economic woes. but the green it’s talking about is not u.s. dollars, but marijuana, as discussed by the ap’s marcus wohlsen and lisa leff in their piece, ‘california sprouts marijuana ‘green rush’.’ they state:

Based on the quantity of marijuana authorities seized last year, the crop was worth an estimated $17 billion or more, dwarfing any other sector of the state’s agricultural economy.

thus, debate will rage now more than ever regarding whether or not to legalize pot more so than it already is. this causes a dilemma; i am not for legalizing illegal activities just to tax it and make a buck. first it was gambling, next would be prostitution (and i don’t buy the ‘they’re already doing it, we might as well tax it’ argument. the consequences of gambling and prostitution have been discussed before). however, because we’re already following this ‘legalize and tax’ model with known harmful products like gasoline and cigarettes, the state will be looking at this with a close eye. let’s face it: california is desperate. and as the article states, los angeles is already there:

Los Angeles County alone has more than 400 pot dispensaries and delivery services, nearly twice as many outlets as Amsterdam, the Netherlands capital whose coffee shops have for decades been synonymous with free-market marijuana.

the question becomes, do we treat marijuana like cigarettes or like alcohol. do we allow for it because of its minimal health benefits (i’m looking at you, red wine), or do we continue to tax it into oblivion because of its harmful side effects like tobacco. prohibition didn’t work, but curbing smoking is. so in which category does pot belong?

the california pot legalization campaign will face an additional challenge of equal greater and opposite force in that there is already a campaign to ban smoking in california outright. it is difficult to argue that we should legalize smoking pot when most of california (and its politicians) are leaning towards banishing all smoking altogether.

in a state that is attempting to lead the nation is becoming greener and healthier, the pot legalization campaign sits in an ironic and precarious place. let’s be honest: the environmental/organic/zero carbon footprint/stay healthy crowd likes them some pot. i predict the result will be relaxed regulations on the amount of pot that can be purchased, accompanied by a hefty tax. pot smokers in california will continue to fly below the radar, and california will slowly continue its march towards decriminalization of pot. if california’s politicians are smart, they’ll tax cheetos and twinkies too.

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