To their great credit, the organizers of I-502 in Washington, have submitted the necessary signatures to the Secretary of State to assure its place on November’s ballot. The measure operates by folding cannabis taxation and regulation into the familiar scheme now used for the regulation and taxation of commerce in alcoholic beverages.
Producers may be licensed to grow and sell wholesale lots of marijuana only to licensed processors, who may sell it only to retailers regulated by the liquor control board. Growing, having and distributing marijuana, heretofore crimes, are declared by the measure not to be a criminal or civil offense under Washington state law if done so in accordance with the license. Producers and processors may not be retailers. A tax of 25% is due upon transfer of product from one licensee to another.
What’s most significant about the measure is not its particulars. Rather, it is that approval by the voters will force a long-overdue showdown with the feds, forcing the federal government to defend prohibition. The contenders will not be the DEA vs. dispensaries. The contenders will be the White House (by default of Congress) vs. the State of Washington. I-502 is a referendum on prohibition. For the first time ever, Washington voters will have an opportunity to step into the privacy of a voting booth and declare what they really think about the marijuana laws.
The demise of prohibition is in plainer view.
The Daily Beast has a breezy new piece by Anneli Rufus, surveying recent “scientific studies” on pot, some pro-, some con-. What’s remarkable is that this piece was published at all, with such flair and cheerful skepticism. Does it signify an Awakening, at long last, of the media to the BS that sustains prohibition, now that the readers, listeners and viewers are starting to get it? Brava to editor Tina Brown, who leads the edge of everything she touches.
In a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and released to the press by the American Medical Association, researchers determined that long-term marijuana use did not impair pulmonary function in humans. The results of the study are not remarkable; indeed, if it were otherwise, bodies would have been piling up for years, as Ed Brecher (author of Licit and Illicit Drugs, 1972), used to say. What’s remarkable is that the U.S. Government funded a study that did not report only adverse effects of marijuana. This is an extraordinary development, suggesting that NIS, at long last, may no longer be willing to carry the water for prohibition, and is willing to put science before politics.
The news from Canada is that the Liberal Party, one of the three major political parties, has endorsed regulation and taxation of the cannabis industry. Over the next few months, expect party activists and leaders to acknowledge gradually that the resolution has attracted popular support, not repelled it, whereupon the other parties will follow, and Canada will help lead the US out of the dark realm of prohibition.