WASHINGTON: Opponents of pot are still trying to wage social, ethical and moral arguments against the majority of citizens who voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana (Initiative 502). Legitimate concerns are lost in the perpetuation of misinformation and emotional irrationality, but what everyone seems to agree on is that marijuana does indeed grow money. So why aren’t we talking about this inevitable, legal, emerging economic impact to our region and how it may help us grow out of the looming fiscal calamities that our communities are facing?
As many cities in our state rush to resurrect failed limit, prohibit, and ban policies to keep marijuana out of their communities, they fail to acknowledge the simple fact that marijuana is already here and has been flourishing for generations. Illegal and quasi-legal cannabis operations rake in enormous tax-free profits with little regulation, oversight or enforcement. Implementing I-502 may be our only chance to stop nurturing and sustaining organized crime, shut down dangerous amateur-extraction labs, eliminate hazardous home-baking enthusiasts, and put a stop to residential grow operations.
I-502 gives the state and local jurisdictions the power to regulate and tax authorized businesses who grow, process or sell marijuana. Although marijuana is still a federally illegal substance, the federal government has indicated they will not interfere with the efforts of states to legalize recreational marijuana if their highly regulated system works toward the elimination of the black market, avoids undue social harm (i.e. gets it out of the hands of children because they already have easy access to it), and prevents an exodus of cannabis products from crossing state lines. This is what everyone working in the legitimate medical cannabis community and the recreational marijuana industry is trying to accomplish. It’s not a matter of if cannabis will be federally legal, it’s now a matter of when.