D.C. Council votes to eliminate jail time for marijuana possession
Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) intends to sign the bill, which would partially decriminalize pot by imposing civil fines rather than jail time for most offenses. The District joins 17 states that have taken similar action but doesn’t go as far as Colorado or Washington state, where voters have legalized the sale and taxation of marijuana.
I have mixed feelings over the decriminalization and/or legalization of pot. I dislike the idea because its not my thing and I recognize the harm it does to the body and to the lives of the people using it. I like the idea of decriminalization simply because I believe too many of our civil liberties have been sacrificed in the war on that drug.
I'm too much a realist to think that states will be happy with decriminalization. There is too much potential tax revenue in legalization, as Colorado is proving, not to go legal and tax it. Eventually we will see a patchwork of states that are legal and decriminalized. The states where it is legal will benefit from the taxes imposed on pot and the states where it is merely decriminalized will see a potential for additional revenue. It won't take long before the decriminalized states take the logical step and become legalized and taxed.
Eventually even the states that hold out and keep pot smoking as a criminal offense will become defacto decriminalized. We are seeing that happen slowly in Wyoming now. According to my friends in law enforcement, the price of pot is going down in Wyoming because you can get it legal in Colorado. The quality of the drug is going up. The combination of those two factors is increasing pot use in our state. It is also decreasing the barriers to obtaining the drug, which is causing economic problems for mid level drug distributors.
Who is going to pay $600 or more per OZ for illegal and questionable quality pot in WYO when a quick trip to COLO can net you a retail premo OZ for $400? In COLO you can get certified medical marijuana starting at $60/OZ or $180/OZ for the "top self" variety. The only thing required to get the medical discount is a medical marijuana or "red card". Can you say "glaucoma? *wink* *wink*.
So who is going to lose out in this situation? Mostly Freshman and Sophomore UW students and high school kids. For those under 21 its going to be a lot like getting the bum to buy a case of beer for you at the party store. You gave the guy $15 for a case of Budweiser Longnecks (its been a long time since I was in high school), $12 was supposed to cover the Bud and bottle deposit and $3 was to get him a pint of something to stay warm. When he came out of the store, what you got was a case of Natural Lite cans and his word that they didn't have any Bud. What he got was 3 bottles of Kessler's and a pack of smokes. Still you are 16 and some beer is better than no beer.
That my friends is what the new drug running will look like in the pot market. "Yeah dude this is some premo shit, see how its brown and grey"? "Hey now $400 isn't going to cover it, I need an extra $50 for gas". Economically it looks like a win-win for everybody but the illegal drug dealer. Secondary costs (increased auto accidents, medical costs etc) will take a back seat to bureaucrats getting an increase in budget income.