March 15, 2018

Source: Bigstock

Of course, one way we could have avoided this would have been to use the resources of Philip Morris, British-American and the others to simply convert tobacco fields into cannabis fields. (In Eastern Kentucky, farmers started switching from tobacco to hemp and cannabis many years ago, but only in counties where the Sheriff could be bought.) One thing the big tobacco companies know how to do is assess medical hazards—since they all pay for the insurance on lawsuits, and they’re constantly forced to fund new university-level studies—and the other thing they know how to do is work with government agencies. Their lobby budgets dwarf the National Rifle Association. For years they’ve fought the (losing) battle against secondhand-smoke legislation, since science has so far failed to bear out the presumed dangers of inhaling someone else’s exhale.

But, alas, the experts have been screened out of the game. Colorado started out with a limit of 10,000 plants per grower—this would be like telling a corn farmer in Iowa that he can only own one acre—and subsequent legislation in all the western states has tended to favor small farms, small distributors, and mom-and-pop stores. Result: an eighth of an ounce (about 12 joints) costs anywhere from $25 to $45, depending on the variety. Large-scale farming could probably cut that price in half.

Recreational joints, then, are apparently only for the rich people, while recreational cigarettes are apparently for the poor people. The excise tax on the New York poor is 41 percent ($4.35 on a $10.50 pack of cigarettes) while the excise tax on the Colorado rich is a mere 17 percent ($6 on a 12-pack selling for an average $35). No wonder State Senator Ronald Rice of Newark, New Jersey, has been criticizing the new governor, Philip Murphy, for saying he intends to legalize pot. Senator Rice believes it’s a way for rich white people to victimize poor black people.

Actually he’s only half right. The poor whites, the poor blacks, the poor Hispanics, and the poor Asians are already victimized by discriminatory tax policies. The legalization of marijuana would just be a way to get more money from the smokers who are aspirational.


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