Voters legalized pot several years ago in Colorado and Washington State. They were promised increased tax revenue increases and better-educated children for their vote. For the love of money and claims of liberty, disasters are now unfolding in both states.
Now California is embarking on likely the same disastrous path, if not worse, despite copious amounts of destructive evidence.
A Taxing Problem
California voters approved Proposition 64, the “California Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” in November of 2016. It legalized recreational marijuana for Californians aged 21 years or older. It also created two new excise taxes on marijuana:
A cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for certain medical marijuana sales and cultivation
A 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana.
The taxes alone are problematic. After all, why would any pot users over pay for taxed pot when the tax-free pot black market is so strong and pot is available everywhere and for a long time to come?
Keep in mind that “buying legal marijuana in California could be pricey enough to keep the black market healthy,” CNNreported. “Between customers, retailers and growers, taxes on cannabis may reach as high as 45% in parts of the state, according to a Fitch Ratings report.”
Sounds just like the California cigarette tax problem doesn’t it? California’s tobacco taxes are among the highest in the nation – which historically serves only to strengthen the cigarette black market.
As Publisher Tom Del Beccaro asked in Forbes recently, as “this unfolds, the question remains whether California consumers, regulators and legislators will study the effects of the high taxes and costs of those regulations.” If the past in any indication, they will not.
Rising Health, Safety & Cost Issues
The numbers are striking.
The average strength of marijuana in 2017 is five to six times what it was in the 1960s and 1970s when today’s aging hippies were getting high. Yet, those aging hippies and local and state governments have been the biggest pushers of pot legalization – albeit for different reasons.
Governments want to tax the &%$! of marijuana, which can only be done if it is legalized and controlled in retail settings – like alcohol and cigarettes. Pothead hippies, on the other hand, just want to be able to smoke it whenever they want – without acknowledgment of the new realities of the drug.
What are those new realities?
Pot-positive traffic fatalities have gone up 100 percent since voters legalized pot in Colorado. The same appears true in Washington state, where recreational marijuana was also legalized – and it’s only getting worse, according to Charles “Cully” Stimson, an expert in national security, homeland security, crime control, drug policy & immigration.
The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has risen sharply each year since 2013. The Denver Post reported that federal and state data show fatal crashes have more than doubled in that time. The Denver Post analysis was based on the data and coroner reports, which found increasingly potent levels of marijuana in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes.
Stimson’s studies cited a report by a federal grant-funded agency in Colorado which found seven specific negative side effects that pot legalization has caused in Colorado:
1) the majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana;
2) youth consumption of marijuana has increased;
3) drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent over a 5-year period and a majority was for marijuana;
4) an increase in college users;
5) almost 50 percent of Denver arrestees tested positive for marijuana;
6) marijuana-related emergency room visits increased 57 percent from 2011-2013; and
7) marijuana-related hospitalizations has increased 82 percent since 2008.
In the name of liberty and tax revenues, exactly who is paying for those increased medical and safety costs?
For Kids, Pot Effects are Dangerous and Permanent
I have my own anecdotal evidence of the potential destructiveness of pot use. My younger brother started smoking pot as a middle schooler in the mid-1970’s, and continued through high school. This once bright boy struggled and barely graduated high school. He was arrested so many times for reckless driving, he eventually had his license suspended. He wrecked his cars. He stole my father’s car and wrecked it. It wasn’t pretty.
My son grew up with a group of boys in our neighborhood. They played soccer together for years. One of the brightest of the boys started smoking pot in 9th grade. He stopped playing soccer, and distanced himself from the group. This handsome boy started looking shabby, and unkempt – like a pot head. By the end of high school, he barely graduated.
There are many stories like these, and I have more. But none of this appears to matter to pot-pushing politicians, or adult pot users – nor are my stories unusual.
The The Lancet Psychiatry health journal found in a 2014 study that teens who smoke marijuana are “also 60 percent less likely to graduate college and seven times more likely to attempt suicide.” The researchers found “clear and consistent associations between frequency of cannabis use during adolescence and most young adult outcomes investigated, even after controlling for 53 potential confounding factors including age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, use of other drugs, and mental illness,” according to the summary of their report, the Daily Signal reported.
The argument by pot supporters is that alcohol is also a drug, and its use is just as bad. But that’s just disingenuous. “Unlike alcohol, THC can remain detectable in the blood stream for days or weeks, when any impairment wears off in a matter of hours,” said Taylor West, former deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “So all those numbers really tell us is that, since legal adult-use sales began, a larger number of people are consuming cannabis and then, at some point … (are) driving a car.”
Hypocritical Politicians Wanted Pot Legal
Do you know who supported the legalization of marijuana, a mind-altering substance known to be addictive? The same lawmakers who have declared tobacco and cigarettes deadly and supported a tax increase on cigarettes to stop smoking on that same November 2016 ballot.
The political hypocrisy doesn’t stop there.
The Sanctuary City by the Bay has a long list of sanctioned banned items: trans fats, the circus, sugary sodas, the Happy Meal and free toy, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, goldfish, baby chickens and ducklings, chewing tobacco, hollow-point bullets, firearms in advertising, wood burning stoves, drones, the Segway, hoverboards, and they tried to ban circumcision.
The list of banned items, of course, allegedly is in the name of public health. I guess marijuana presents less of a danger than Happy Meal toys.
Then again, those same San Francisco Nanny-Supervisors support public urination, needle exchanges, public nudity, free condoms, abortion clinics, and public sex acts in addition to pot smoking.
What about doctors? The now-radicalized California Medical Association endorsed Proposition 64, the state’s initiative to legalize marijuana. Oddly, the Association has yet to say much of anything about marijuana smoke. Their silence stands in contrast to the fact that pot smoke contains three times as much tar and one and a half times as much carcinogen as tobacco smoke – and, don’t forget, Pot smokers hold the smoke in their lungs longer than cigarette smokers.
In California, liberal politicians say tobacco is bad; getting stoned daily is good – especially in a state of 38 million people. In California, more than a quarter of the 38 million were not even born in the United States, and more than 4.4 million Californians received welfare food benefits each month.
The DUI arrests,increase in college users, youth consumption, marijuana-related hospitalizations, and increasing emergency room visits of Washington and Colorado will only be amplified in California.
Political Journalist, Saucy Cynic, Quintessential Analyst. Never a Stenographer. Katy Grimes is a longtime political journalist, analyst and writer. As a credentialed Capitol reporter, Senior Correspondent for the Flash Report, and Senior Media Fellow with E&E Legal, Katy covers the California Legislature and state agency politics from the State Capitol. A California native, Katy lives in Sacramento with her husband Terry. Her son is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, now a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. 916.417.6780