Dear Big Daddy,
Start by firing everyone on the California Supreme Court — what a bunch of idiots! What extreme ignorance! Come on, marijuana — this really is a joke, isn’t it?!
—Stop the Insanity
Budget crisis, meet opportunity.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? You also didn’t expect you’d be sitting on the kitchen floor eating a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich and thinking it was the best meal you’ve ever had? No? What’s that? You want to sell weed to pay off the deficit? What do you mean it was my idea? Well, now that you mention it, it is a thought worth pondering.
We’re already hanging out with Nevada. We can’t really try to hide our intimacy with America’s bad kid now that we’ve got visible casino-pox breaking out all over. And it doesn’t help always having that hippie Oregon hanging out on our couch. Hell, dude, Wisconsin asked us for some just the other day. What reputation is it we’re trying to hold to?
Now at this point I could start throwing out a bunch of numbers about how dealing some wacky weed could close the deficit, fully fund the schools and provide health care for all. But that would mean research, and “research” would mean bumming some stats from the Web sites of groups like Amerijuanican or the People’s Organization of Tokers for the Health of Every American Dude.
And I just don’t trust those numbers. DEA officials love to tout the “street price” of a bust every time they pull three plants out of some fellow’s back yard. And by street price, they mean what they could sell it for if they had an endless supply of dyslexic millionaires to sell it to (I only know of one, and even our president could only smoke a small percentage of the supply). Having been subjected to decades of made-up numbers from law enforcement, I’m sure the pro-pot folks have picked up on how bad Americans are at math and adjusted their estimates for hemp seed muffin revenues accordingly.
But given that cannabis is already one of our leading cash crops, I’m sure the potential profits are bigger than a stoner’s eyes fixed on a Ben & Jerry’s sign. Our legislators won’t inhale, but voters are far more adventurous. The problem with an initiative would be getting the money to counter all the “no” advertising. But this would be easier than it sounds. Don’t like the prison guards? Give to our campaign. Had it with Indian tribes, unions, the Chamber, insurers, the naturopaths, Capitol Knitwits or any other major power group in the state? Just donate to our initiative, and the moment it passes, they’ll all be dwarfed by a weed lobby standing astride our state like a skunky colossus.
Do I believe this? Not especially. But I will say that my feelings on the matter have changed a bit since I railed against the hippies who were puffing away on this stuff during my heyday in the 1960s. I’ve always been a tippler, not a toker, and there was something galling about a bunch of affluent suburban kids talking about revolution when all they meant by that was their right to puff until they could see an endless mandala of angels. Meanwhile, my social class was getting gut-shot in a rice paddy.
What’s changed is the class dynamic. Sure, the “clean plaintiff” on the RagingWire case was a middle-class computer technician. And quite a few doctors and lawyers, and those folks you see in business attire around the Capitol on a weekday, light up. But much like with other drug laws, the brunt of enforcement is hitting the modular home and beat-up pickup truck set.
And for what? Think about it this way. How many cokehead comedies have you seen? How many jokes start out “You know you’re a junkie when …”? Even the hiccupping drunk as a standard humor device went out of style when I was still a hiccupping drunk.
But stoner comedy is alive and well and worth $14 trillion annually. When enough people think the law is a big dumb joke that they’re a commercially viable demographic, that doesn’t bode well for the long-term survival of that law. I’m sure there are some people who get a medical benefit from cannabis, but I also think this whole thing is basically a smokescreen for decriminalization.
Look for that column in about 10 years.