UPDATE: The reefer debate rages on ... not least in the comment section below my post. Check it out, and add your thoughts.
In a shocking bit of news, California was recently ranked the “worst state” by Chief Executive magazine’s annual “Best and Worst States” survey. (Let’s hear it for my home state!) The survey, based on reports from CEOs in each state, is meant to help small business owners pinpoint the best and worst places in which to do business. It seems that California is better than any other state at “alienating” businesses.
That is, unless your business is selling pot.
In a still more—and by “more” I mean “not at all”—shocking bit of news, TIME magazine reported last week that the Golden State’s legislators are considering a bill that would legalize the buying and selling of marijuana.
Why? Why else? It’s the economy, stupid.
By legalizing the weed trade, the state would be able to regulate (read: tax) all sales of the crop. State tax collectors project this would mean over $1 billion a year in revenue. Besides the obvious mercenary justifications, there are sound political reasons for the move.
With the economy tanking, now more than ever public officials need to prove to their core constituency of responsible citizens that they are making wise, well-informed decisions. What better way to do that than give folks cannabis carte blanche? Offering people real solutions to pressing economic problems when escapism can do the trick, well, that would just be downright decent. And, God knows no politician would ever want to be accused of that.
Now, I’m not saying that the plan wouldn’t work, economically-speaking, but at what cost? Do we really want Disneyland to have to change their slogan from the “happiest” to the “Highest Place on Earth”? When it comes down to it, the bottom line isn’t always about money but morality—even in a recession.
Having a less than stellar record that may or may not have involved dating a pothead in high school, I won’t sermonize on the immoral underpinnings of marijuana usage. (That could, after all, be construed as the pot calling the kettle black. No pun intended, really). But I will say that California’s government is considering granting itself leeway that it would never grant an ordinary citizen.
Think about it. Let’s say I’m out of work, desperate for money. I decide that going from des-titute to pros-titute would be the answer to all my economic ills. So, I mosey on over to a street corner. When a cop comes by to transport me to the Big House, I simply tell him that times are tough. I’ve changed the law to make selling myself not only not illegal but a laudable economic enterprise. He applauds my laissez-faire spirit and continues on to the donut shop. Ridiculous, unthinkable, far-fetched right? Yes, unless you’re the cash-strapped state of California.
As much as I disagree with the state assemblyman Tom Ammiano – the ass (I mean, Democrat, of course) – that proposed the legislation, I have to admit that it would be political genius in action were the bill to pass:
Get the populace to toke it up so that they forget about the economic recession and the lunatic “public servants” that helped bring it on and instead contemplate such pot-inspired ideas as how to stuff a second Twinkie inside the first.
Smart thinking, Ammiano. But his genius doesn’t stop at the Golden State. He is looking on to bigger and better things, i.e. the other 49 states. “How California goes, the country goes,” he says.
Great. So maybe next year on 4/20, we’ll all be able to light one up to celebrate my mother’s birthday and pay homage to the once-great state of California.
[As posted on Taki's Magazine. It seems I got that second chance with Mr. Spencer, after all.]