Monday, January 06, 2014

Up in Smoke

Back on January first, the State of Colorado allowed legal sales of marijuana.

The world failed to end.

Colorado's voters and legislature decriminalized cannabis a year or so ago; the delay between that and the opening of stores selling high-quality weed was primarily to set up statutory limits and restrictions, modeled after the state's alcohol-use laws. 

One example that I like is that a resident of the state can buy up to one ounce with valid ID; out-of-staters can buy up to one-quarter of an ounce, and here the kicker - you can't leave the state with it.  If you're caught with it at the airports, they'll take it away from you and fine you $990.  You won't go to jail if you pay the fine (and yes, you can go to jail if you refuse to pay a fine; judges hate when you piss them off).

Which brings me, by slow and steady stages, to the status of Mary Jane down here in Sunny Florida, also known as America's Strap-on.

First, let me be very up front about this.  I've never used marijuana, don't use it now, and can't foresee a time when I ever will use marijuana.  People who know me will agree me that I don't need drugs - I have more fun just thinking.

Last year a group of people tried to get it on the ballot, or at least get a bill onto the floor of the Legislature for debate.  The GOP supermajority in both houses refused to allow an unbiased discussion.  A new push is on this year to place a referendum before the voters.  I imagine they have the signatures for it, and the only hurdle is wording the ballot initiative in such a way as to be palatable to the voters, the legislators, and the courts.

And, of course, the legislators and the courts will make that as difficult as possible.  Why, you ask?  Quite simple:  The incarceration of people for possession of marijuana (under 20 grams is a misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by fines and up to a year in jail) is lucrative.  It fills up the jails, who make money by charging room and board fees and such; it helps fund the courts through court fees and fines; it finances all the various rehab centers, and so on.

Naturally, you hear the usual things from The Usual Suspects. 

"Marijuana is a gateway drug - it leads to harder stuff."  Um, no.  Alcohol is considered a gateway drug; tobacco is considered a gateway drug.  Almost anything can be considered a gateway to something else.  The State of Tennessee even tried to legislate kissing, with one right-wing shit-for-brains opining that kissing was a "gateway sexual behavior."  Hell, reading this could be considered a 'gateway' to reading materials associated with the stance on marijuana, for or against; maybe even - gasp! - thinking seriously and critically about the issue.

The laws restricting marijuana use in Colorado appear, right now, to be very well thought out.  If problems arise, I expect the state government to tweak the laws because laws are organic; i.e., they change and adapt to changing situations over time. 

And so far you don't see the county sheriffs there threatening armed rebellion or counties threatening to secede over it. 

It'd be interesting to see if Florida has the testicular fortitude to try the same experiment.

So just mellow out, man.  Oh, and Dave?  Dave's not here.


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