The “Voice of Doom” that first spoke up in the 1936 film Reefer Madness continues to rant and rave about the horrors of the demon weed known as marijuana – but increasingly, that voice is being disregarded and even mocked as the movement for full legalization continues its inexorable march forward.
Even the business community, seeing the potential for immense profits from a cash crop, is adding its voice to ordinary citizens who are demanding the right to kick back and smoke a doobie without worrying about the cops bursting in and hauling them off to the pokey. Furthermore, political leaders who formerly opposed pot legalization, such as Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, have seen the light.
And speaking of the cops, law enforcement has also been supporting regulated legalization – if for no other reason than it frees up resources from having to bust small-time pot offenders and allowing them to put energy into pursuing more serious crimes.
There are numerous reasons why pot legalization is a positive step for the country. First and foremost, it puts a sizable group of criminal black marketeers out of business almost overnight. It’s a lesson the U.S. should have learned nine decades ago from the dismal failed experiment known as the “Volstead Act.” For over a decade, instead of stemming the tide of alcohol, it created a huge criminal enterprise that enabled thugs like Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, and Bill Dwyer to control huge sections of American Cities during the 1920s – leaving bloody trails of murder and mayhem in their wakes. It’s a major reason that law enforcement agencies across the country have supported movements to make cannabis products legal. Legalization takes the pot trade away from gangsters. In addition, regulation makes it safer to consume, and keeps it out of the hands of underage youth who shouldn’t be doing it in any event.
Another major upside: tax revenue. During the first five months of 2016, cannabis sales in the State of Colorado generated a whopping $486 million. Over $71 million – more than 16% – went into the state treasury. This year, the State of Oregon projects $43 million in tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana.
Speaking of sales, business people large and small are seeing the benefits as well. Their donations to the cause have been going a long way toward supporting ballot measures for full legalization across the country.
To be sure, there are still elements in the business community that are working to defeat those measures. Casino owner and oligarch Sheldon Adelson has donated $8 million since 2014 to defeat marijuana legalization measures in Florida, Massachusetts, and his home state of Nevada. Other casino owners are also opposing this year’s measures in the Silver State. Other opponents of legalization include alcohol manufacturers and (surprise!) Big Pharma – which see a real threat to their own revenue stream.
Opponents of pot legalization continue to warn voters of the dire consequences of legal marijuana – such as an increase in motor vehicle accidents (not so, according to studies), higher rates of usage (again, not borne out by statistics) and a virtual plague of pot stores on every corner (which has hardly happened in states that have legalized marijuana), along with people walking around in public amid cannabis clouds (it’s still a misdemeanor to smoke pot in pubic in most places).
Those arguments increasingly ring hollow with voters. Despite aggressive anti-marijuana campaigns, a substantial number of voters in Arizona, California, Massachusetts and other states putting the issue of recreational and/or medical marijuana on the ballot this year are in full support.
The winds of change are shifting – and there isn’t one damn thing Sheldon Adelson and Big Pharma can do about it. Wake up and smell the cannabis, folks.