Legalized recreational marijuana is inevitable. Do you really think 10 years from now it won’t be legal everywhere? In 10 years it’ll be legal at the federal level, either through Congress or the Supreme Court. If you don’t believe that, I’d be happy to take bets. If the Legislature in Bismarck were realistic, they’d take the advice of a Forum editorial in early February and create a system they can live with. It’s not that hard. Even for them. That’s the way Vermont did it.
Colorado took in almost $400 million in taxes last year. Granted half of that comes from out of state (for the moment), and North Dakota has a much smaller population, but it’s bound to be tens of millions, even here. Would you rather build some bridges or schools, or just hand it over to other states and build them some?
A frequent objection is the “gateway drug” thing. Marijuana is no more a gateway drug than beer is. The gateway is the unbidden exposure that comes with being illegal same as heroin and cocaine and meth. No big difference to the dealer if it’s all the same risk. More profit in some of the other ones anyway, I think. The sole and only reason beer is not a gateway drug is because they’ve never offered cocaine and meth where they sell beer.
Another objection is the fear of a tsunami of zombie stoners once it’s legal. Almost two thirds of the adult population has already tried it, and 20% of people admit to pollsters that they regularly smoke it now. (And maybe some of the rest lied.) Prominent people smoke it. Some you know of, and some that would surely surprise you.
Pot is pretty mainstream already without presenting a lot of drastic problems. (Actually, far less than alcohol. Read The Forum regularly.) Stores that sell specialty smoking devices and gadgets are proliferating like convenience stores and thriving, and I’ve never known anyone who smoked tobacco from a bong. Sorry, the wave ain’t comin’. It’s already here. It’s been here.
It’ll just be kinda nice, I think, for everybody to have nice clean stores to go to, with clean, regulated product. Taxes? Fine, no one should have a problem with that. And a new industry means new jobs and agricultural exports. (Maybe. Everybody else got a jump on us, but North Dakota farmers are pretty adept.)
I expect problems with other drugs, (except opioids, which are legal, ironically) to plummet after the pot stores are open. Two birds with one. Close the gateway, and keep the money local. It’s getting spent anyway, and the amount isn’t going to materially change, legal or not.
Not to discern that is either willful blindness or inherent blindness. Either way, it’s incontrovertibly just a matter of time, and I think it’s considerably less than 10 years. We’ll be completely surrounded in two. Taking bets?
(Actually… wait a second! Maybe the people SHOULD write the law. I don’t trust those nuts we seem to send to Bismarck to make it all work. Some of them will gum it up to make sure it doesn’t, to court partisan favor. They’re not as smart as the folks in Vermont somehow. I take it all back.)
Andre Jordheim lives in Fargo.