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Washington State Legislators Want to Give Pot to Big Alcohol - Will It Work?
Politicians going for the Triple Bypass...
In a move to show some political backbone and win favor among Washington state residents, John McKay, Rick Steves and Pete Holmes are coming together with the ACLU to bring forth the legalization of cannabis. This triple threat has decided that it's high time to legalize and they've set their sights on legalizing marijuana by handing it over to the states Liquor Control Board, and making pot akin to alcohol in pretty much every way.
There initiative would say something along the lines of:
*No one under 21 is allowed to consume or possess cannabis
*Driving under the influence of cannabis will be charged almost the same as driving under the influence of alcohol - they will develop some sort of 'on-hand' blood test to determine how high you are while driving.
*The Liquor Control Board will be in control of the statewide taxation of cannabis
*Cannabis will be sold in "Stand alone stores" controlled by the liquor board
Will it Work... the Upsides
There are some obvious upsides to this future cannabis legalizing initiative, and it's important to acknowledge them and take them into consideration.
1) Cannabis would be at least partially legalized. They are suggesting that any person over 21 could be in possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis, though the lines are still too ambiguous to know how often a person could possess an ounce, or if disabled patients who can't constantly re-up - would be able to possess more.
2) One more thing to celebrate on the big 21st birthday - you can drink, possess a gun AND legally consume cannabis.
3) It might be possible for Washington state to come out of debt and build a surplus budget from the revenue brought in from cannabis sales.
4) From the sounds of the phrase "stand alone stores", it seems like they are suggesting cannabis would be sold from stores that are cannabis only and run exactly like the current system of state liquor stores.
Will it Work... some things to be concerned about..
I know there are plenty of folks out there who either feel that any form of legalization is better than none, and there are also plenty of others who feel that we "stoners" should just take what we're given and not complain. I, however, am not either of those types. I feel that when you do something, you should do it right, or at least give your goal the best chance of succeeding. I do want cannabis to be legalized, I am both a patient and a recreational user, I just don't want it to be legalized in a way that would hurt our freedoms and health. So I'd like to cover some of the biggest areas of concern with 'the plan'.
Before I really get started though, I'd like to make it clear that I don't want this hub to suggest you should vote for the new initiative or not vote for it. I would just like to encourage everyone to be aware of all possible factors.
1) Should we really hand cannabis over to the state liquor board? Essentially, the state liquor board is controlled by those that work for Big Alcohol, and there are a number of issues that can crop up from handing cannabis over to one of it's biggest enemies. First off, it could easily turn into an issue where the board of alcohol ends up regulating and taxing cannabis enough to make sure that it's unaffordable or at very least - that alcohol is much more affordable and easy to get than cannabis. Secondly, the board of alcohol could strip cannabis of most of it's nature-ly goodness, most likely through allowing Phillip Morris type corporations get a hold of the process of produce cannabis for consumers.
2) You can't grow. They haven't specifically said it yet, most likely because it's been one of the biggest issues in cannabis legalization - but if the alcohol control board had control, cannabis were sold in state owned stores and you were only allowed to possess up to one ounce of dried cannabis - then it's pretty evident that YOU cannot grow your own. This means that you cannot directly have control over what is used to produce your cannabis, nor can you take advantage of the benefits of cannabis without oversight and taxation from the government.
3) At this point, they are being really ambiguous about the issue of taxation. They have suggested a modest $215 million in revenue could be earned, but they still haven't said how much a person will be taxed to earn that "modest" revenue and there isn't even a hint of who will control those that tax the cannabis. This means that even if they set the mj taxes at a modest level to start out, there isn't anything in place (or even being proposed) to regulate the cannabis taxers from over-taxing.
4) There is no way that legalizing cannabis for adults over 21, will stop adults between 18 and 21 from consuming cannabis. As we know from history and from the proposed initiative, prohibition doesn't work. So why try say only those over 21 can consume cannabis? Won't that just create more pointless issues and ruin lives for those between 18 and 21?
5) Although I am more than for figuring out a way to test negligent drivers who are driving high, I am a bit nervous about the prospect of blood tests to test for cannabis intoxication. Even as a person who urges others not to drive while intoxicated on cannabis, I wonder what sort of blood test officers will be in control of. For alcohol, they have sobriety tests and breathalizers. For cannabis, are they going to have blood letting devises? Or will they be required to haul you down to the station to jab you with needles to test you blood-thc level, even if there is no proof that you were driving intoxicated? I have personally never even heard of any positive results coming from blood tests that have been able to suggest how much or how often a person has consumed cannabis, only that they have it in their system. And going by common knowledge, it could have been in a person system anywhere from 5 to 30 days prior to the day they might be pulled over. There is a lot of potential for abuse for those pulled over and found in possess of cannabis, even when it's legal to possess it.
The future is pliable
There are still other issues to be for or against this proposed cannabis initiative, as anything this important has pro's and con's to be considered. Though at this moment, the future is still pliable. It's flexible and could go in either direction.
It is my hope, that if people get to talking about this new initiative and the brassiness of those driving it, that it might still have a chance to be a good initiative. One that can pass the muster of those that want recreational, those that truly need medicinal and our freedoms.