Tomorrow, the country’s first legal retail shops to sell recreational marijuana will open for business in Colorado. This comes 14 short months since the state’s voters approved the legalized possession, use, and sale of marijuana. Washington state, which also passed a pot legalization measure, will soon follow, probably sometime in June. It’s even happening internationally: Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana at the national level — which may spark a “tidal wave” of legalization across South American countries that have grown weary of the expensive and bloody U.S.-led war on drugs.
The impact of this historic milestone is more than just legal or political; it is a signal of the mainstream acceptance of a product which for decades has been subject to fearmongering propaganda and sometimes brutal interdiction by a state desperate to eradicate its use. Now that Colorado and Washington have opened the gates to legalization, there is no hope for the drug warriors to stop the flood. Not that they won’t try: even now they continue their dire and uninformed warnings about the dangers of pot.
Perhaps the biggest change will come in how marijuana-related stories are covered by the news media. The Denver Post has launched a new Web site, TheCannabist.co — so far the only major daily newspaper in the country with a site dedicated to marijuana. (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a marijuana blog as part of their main site.) Pot will be covered — in reviews of shops and strains, stories of events and crimes — in much the same way as alcohol. Alongside reviews of pinot noirs, you might find evaluations of Purple Kush. This coverage has existed for years, of course, in states where medical marijuana is legal, but now that 21-plus year-olds can buy the stuff like they can a bottle of wine, societal attitudes will likely shift as well. Lifting the stigma of illegality means no more furtive discussions of pot in public and back-alley deals. We may well be arguing about the relative merits of various strains like we do micro-brews.
Legalization isn’t perfect. There are now many more rules to follow for people who wish to engage in the marijuana trade, and it’s clear that Colorado’s current rules favor the established players in the medical marijuana industry. Banks are still restricted in accepting money from businesses tied to illicit drugs, which marijuana remains classified as at the federal level, so it’s a cash-only business for now. Taxes on retail marijuana will be punitively excessive, reaching as high as 30% in Denver. There are also limits on how much pot one can possess, and strict bans on public consumption.
But for those who can find a private place to light up with their newly-purchased bud tomorrow, they may very well believe what Ozzy Osbourne sang over 40 years ago: “Soon the world will love you, sweet leaf.”
Watch this political ad (below) promoting Washington State’s Initiative 1098, which seeks to dedicate $2 billion per year to fund education and healthcare for children. It’s always for the children! It’s not about soaking the rich! even though this other Yeson1098 video makes a point of demonizing the greedy rich. The slogan is “the wealthy pay more, the rest of us pay less.” Bill Gates, Sr., is presented as a grandfatherly figure sacrificing his comfort for the sake of childrens’ enjoyment while he explains the reasonableness of this new scheme to legally plunder the rich.
Peter Schiff is an excellent economist and his appearances on various financial shows (and the corresponding Youtube clips and blog posts) have contributed to the economics education and financial health of thousands of people. Why on earth is he running for the Senate? ((Schiff’s campaign website has been taken down.)) Does he really believe that the political process has even a remote chance of limiting the size and scope of government? Such a belief is truly absurd for two reasons:
The inherent inertia of the political workings of Washington D.C. makes it nearly impossible to slow down the growth of government; actually shrinking the government from the inside borders on impossible.
Even if I am wrong that it’s an impossibility to shrink government from the inside, what it would require is more than three libertarians. Were Schiff to win, and Ron Paul’s son Rand Paul to win also, that would make 3 libertarians in Congress (I’m generously calling Rand a libertarian, mind you) vs 532 socialists of varying degrees; worse, their forces would be split, as Schiff and Rand would be in the Senate (2 vs 98) and Ron would be in the House (1 vs 434). You’ve got to be kidding me.
I’d prefer to see Schiff save his money and that of all the people who would donate to his campaign (freedom-lovers) so they can use it to brace for the impact of this onsetting depression. Tossing so much into the political advertising money pit is a total waste. That’s an enormous amount to spend ($30 Million or so?) in the hopes that Peter can get elected and make great speeches on CSPAN, given that he already gets invited to speak on the financial circuit with little or no out-of-pocket expense on his part. In fact, Schiff has already had to cease appearing twice per week on one of the financial shows due to campaign laws, so now we’re back to all Keynes all the time. And even if he were to win, it’s doubtful the Republican leadership would seat Schiff on any of the important financial committees, so what would he really accomplish in the Senate? Maybe introduce a few bills which never make it out of committee?
Worst of all, I fear Schiff doesn’t really have a shot of winning since libertarianism doesn’t really resonate with the masses (yet), so all of that time and money campaigning will likely be wasted. (Yes, I know I just made an objective truth claim about others’ subjective evaluations which is an Austrian no-no.)
One of the alleged 162,000 jobs created in March can be found in Snohomish, Washington. Although the gig only pays $8.55/hour, it’s a real resume builder. What minimum wage job posted on Craigslist inspired 260 applications from people aged fourteen to sexagenarian? Why, being a kennel helper at Roscoe’s Ranch, owned by Guy Palumbo, of course. The job posting is quite clear in explaining that duties include scooping dog poop. Who is desperate enough to take this job? According to Recession’s untold story, just about everyone:
A laid-off graphic designer applied. So did a freelance photographer. Two out-of-work teachers sent résumés. Remarkably, so did someone in their mid-40s who had worked as a financial controller at an environmental-services company.
“There are a few people in here, such as accountants, who are so overqualified for this job,” Palumbo said. “I know people just want to work but I don’t think it would make much sense for me to hire them.”
The rest of the applicants read like a recession roll call.
There are past customer-service reps from WaMu, AT&T, J.C. Penney and Sprint. A slew of retail clerks and cashiers, as well as out-of-work waiters. The biggest group, by far, is dozens of laborers, construction workers, landscapers and maintenance workers.
This must be one of those mythical “green shoots” I’ve been hearing so much about on CNBC and other establishment media outlets. Maybe if the likes of Larry Kudlow and Bob Shrum pile this manure high enough something will grow out of it — most likely a fungus.