Legalization and Weed Control

Opponents of decriminalizing cannabis for personal use warn that making the substance legal would lead to a society with rampant potheaderry. DUIs, secondhand wacky-tobacky smoke in public places, widespread availability to children, reduced worker productivity — you know all the arguments.

But the keep-weed-illegal lobby never devotes much — if any — attention to the role towns, cities, and counties play in regulating weed in the states where voters have made small amounts of cannabis possession/use legit.

For example, in Alaska, local governments “can vote to ban [marijuana] businesses, and voter initiatives can take the question back to the ballot.” On October 3rd, “the city of Fairbanks, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough” will vote on whether “stores, grows, manufacturing facilities and testing labs” can continue to operate.

A fair number of Oregon cities and counties have chosen to “ban legal marijuana markets.” In many of the Beaver State’s rural jurisdictions, “marijuana remains shunned by the majority and is seen as something that shouldn’t be given any official stamp of approval.”

Big cities have concerns, too. Earlier this summer, in California, “the Fresno City Council voted 4-3 to impose heavy restrictions on cannabis cultivation and move forward with a ban on marijuana dispensaries, deliveries and public use.”

The best case for legalization was offered (although not specifically) by Ronald Reagan: “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”

But there are solid policy arguments behind the movement to permit cannabis for personal use. Among the strongest are the local-control options available for communities that might not be comfortable with unrestricted research, cultivation, processing, sales, and use.

With marijuana easy to get and relatively cheap just about everywhere, the drug is essentially legal now. That’s why so many on the left, center, and right support legalization. New Mexico, where the economy is weak and tax revenue stagnant, remains fertile ground for a reform that would both boost fiscal health and spur job creation.

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4 Replies to “Legalization and Weed Control”

  1. I just made the pleasant drive up to Trinidad and gave Colorado the 24% in sales tax. The pot stores are clean, secure and well staffed. As usual New Mexico bureaucrats support endeavors that drain the poor taxpayers, like the RR and the Space Port, but see no value in letting free enterprise supply a product that is in demand and is proven to be a great revenue source to the state.

    1. Were you stoned on the trip back? What makes people think that offered another legal intoxicant, it won’t be used as much or more than alcohol is used when driving a car?

  2. I am personally surprised at how easily accessible Marijuana is, even for people who aren’t looking for it. I don’t use it and I haven’t accept for a few times as a high school senior and even now as a 40 something person I could probably get it pretty easily. So I personally believe the argument that keeping it illegal to prevent abuse is a false narrative. Those who wish to abuse it will, simply because it’s easy to get.
    This always leads me to question how much money is changing hands tax free in this industry? And how much money are taxpayers spending pursuing and incarcerating those who participate in this crime?
    A couple of years ago I would have said no way to decriminalization efforts, but now I think we’re missing out on an opportunity.

  3. Decriminalization of marijuana makes sense in the light of more pressing crime problems. Legalization is tempting because illegal drugs are among the few private enterprises that actually are growing in New Mexico. On the other hand, employers aren’t hiring here because it’s so hard to find employees who can pass a drug test.

    Perhaps the answer is to legalize marijuana and treat it the way New Mexico treats all private business: with intrusive regulation, predatory taxation and burdensome employer mandates. That will kill it for sure.

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