After spending about four months in mostly-courteous FaceBook and office debates about politics, one subject was off the radar. I had no idea Colorado and Washington were seeking state laws in support of legalizing marijuana, though I’m not surprised. In fact, I’m probably more surprised that other states didn’t do the same (cue foreshadowing to 2013 bills nationwide).
With apologies to Cheech and Chong, here’s how I imagine the conversation went:
[skipping the first 50 mj-enhanced lines between the two just to get to the actual topic. Oh, and it helps to use their voices and accents]:
Legislator Cheech: “We should do something to make the doobie legal, ya know?”
Advocate Chong: “I dunno, man, the feds have been all over the medical marijuana stores.”
Cheech: “So what? Let’s make it easy for the state to get more taxes, man, and too much of a pain for the federalies.”
Chong: “How do we do that, man?”
Cheech: “We make a proposition that people have to be the legal drinking age and they don’t get busted for having an ounce of pot on them.”
Chong: “Only an ounce? I don’t have small enough baggies.”
Cheech: “Look, man, you make it so no cop has to waste his time taking you into the crowded jail for such a small amount and you make it so they have to buy it from a store so the state can tax it like crazy…like cigarettes, man.”
Chong: “I get it. We get state and police, jail and court support. But what about the feds, man? Pot’s still against the federal law.”
Cheech: “Don’t try to confuse me with all that ‘states’ rights vs. federal rights’ mumbo jumbo. The feds don’t want to deal with a bunch of one-ounce violators. Plus, this is what I’m talking about. We start easy, ya know, with one ounce. Then, after the state enjoys the new income and other states jump on the bandwagon with some “save our schools” slogan, the feds will take notice and want to tax it like gasoline.”
Chong: “But what about Obama and the DEA and IRS?”
Cheech: “Tch, maaaan, Obama don’t care. He needs to get the deficit down. Plus, you know this whole thing is going to get to the Supreme Court and with the judges he’ll appoint, the states will win.”
Chong: “Is that how it works? You know a lot about laws, man.”
Cheech: “Yeah, I watch a lot of Law & Order and I learn stuff.”
Chong: “You know what would be great is if we could slip something in about letting people grow some plants in their own homes.” [End.]
And there you have it. Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s Measure 502 (foreshadowing?) were passed last Tuesday by the people. While Colorado’s Governor Hickenlooper reminded his constituents to keep the Scooby Snacks locked up for now, it’s clear that tie-dyed entrepeneurs will be opening state-licensed stores with two goals in mind: money and getting the issue before the courts with the hope that the almighty dollar will drive the issue in their favor.
Sure, there are slippery slope and safety arguments galore, and it will be an ugly battle. But this is how laws get changed. In fact, I just took a page from Randy Pausch’s book and gave you the “head fake.” It’s usually baby steps that get that contractor’s indemnity clause changed or that Three Strike’s law down to where it should be. I expected to see this approach with Prop 37′s Genetic Food disclosure. It didn’t include all industries, but it seemed to be a good start that would pull them in eventually. It didn’t pass, but you get the idea.
And in case you thought Chong’s last idea was ludicrous, check out Colorado’s 6-plant allowance.
Coming to California, soon…