Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Going to Pot

Prohibition is a capitalist plot. As soon as Prohibition was enforced, society lost control of the booze market. It opened the flood gates; now anyone could buy alcohol: men, women, and children. Children? Why not? Who’s watching? Enormous splurge in the market. For the first time, women began going regularly to bars; changed their whole design (the bars, not the women), they had to add bathrooms.

Not to mention no taxes. Pure profit, through and through. Free market economy at its best, a capitalist’s dream. And they made it big, ask the Kennedys. Really big. Of course, because booze was illegal, all those capitalists making huge profits on its sale were, unfortunately (ask the Kennedys) labeled “criminals.” Oh sure, sometimes someone ended up with a horse’s head in their bed, but that’s all part of doing business. Nothing stopping one of those criminals’ kids from becoming President, now is there? This is America, after all, the Land of Opportunity and Redemption.

But I digress.

It does make me wonder, though, about the Sheriff of Umatilla County. He showed up with one of the more creative oppositions to legalization that I’ve heard: “Legalization will open the field to criminal operations. When there’s nothing left to stop them, they’ll set up shop all over Oregon.”

Is it just me, or is that ass-backwards? Who does he think currently grows marijuana in Oregon, a several billion dollar a year market? Am I interpreting the law wrong, or aren’t all those growers currently criminals? And if it’s legal, how can a grower be a criminal?

The Sheriff does, though, point to the future in a significant way. There is no doubt that marijuana is one of the top income crops in America. Given its illegality, the futures market on marijuana is not tracked, but, trust me, it’s bullish. It is, at the same time, completely untaxed and unregulated. It’s Prohibition all over again except that people are dying in Mexico because of it, not just Chicago. The money is uncountable. Or, more properly, no one’s counting it.

We should.

Need I say more? Any fool can do the math. Any fool can see the consequences. Any fool.

While we’re diddling around saying we shouldn’t legalize pot because the medical marijuana program is broken—a non sequitur if there ever was one—the opportunity to cash in on the market is dwindling away. Rather than fighting legalization, we should be gearing up for it. It’s going to come one day soon enough, and those places ready to cash in when it comes will be far ahead of the game. Oregon is perfectly placed to capture a major share of that emerging market. But we have to act fast. Washington and Colorado are also on the way to establishing brands. California won’t be far behind. We already have an excellent culinary reputation; we can do the same with cannabis, I guarantee it.

We need a Tilth for the marijuana trade. We need someone certifying growers and product. We need state quality assurance. We need to get a control on the market before it races past us.

The Sheriff should take note of what happened when Prohibition was repealed. Sales shrank, the market constricted for a brief while, anyway. One reason? Kids couldn’t buy booze anymore, the underground market totally dried up. And suddenly the government raked in a bundle of taxes. Wouldn’t that be nice? (Or is that a little too socialistic? Redistribution of the wealth, and all? Why pick on one of the last bastions of free enterprise?)

“Acme Buds: From High in the Mountains of Oregon.” We have to be quick or we’ll be left behind. I know that’s hard for a bunch of pot smokers—to be quick—but it’ll pay off big time.

Get off your duff and vote!
Thanks to sheriffdan10

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