On January 2, Ed Krayewski from Reason wrote, “[New Year's Day] marked the beginning of a legal market in recreational marijuana in Colorado, the first time government-licensed shops have ever sold marijuana anywhere in the world.”
There is, however, one major inaccuracy with that statement. Aside from the fact that cannabis has been available for years in medical dispensaries, it was not always against the law to purchase, possess or consume cannabis. In fact, in the United States, there were no federal laws regarding cannabis until the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which “required that certain special drugs, including… cannabis, be accurately labeled with contents.” The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, “made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, in which an inexpensive excise tax was required.” The Marihuana Tax Act was ruled unconstitutional in 1969, and officially repealed by the Congress in 1970.
Throughout the past 43 years, there has been a lot of progress in pushing back against the laws that have worked to prohibit the recreational use of cannabis. Those who oppose re-legalization of cannabis often tout the evils of cannabis, claiming that cannabis kills. The truth is that not one single person has ever died from a cannabis overdose. However, hundreds of thousands of people die annually from other substances that are perfectly legal to purchase, possess and consume.
Wayward Bill, the Chairman of the US Marijuana Party, reported on the newly re-legalized sale of cannabis, “Denver has been become Shakedown Street… 1,000s of tourists buying weed… And they are paying the adsorbent tax of 25% State Marijuana Excise tax + 3.5% Denver Marijuana tax + 7.62 % State Sales tax = 36.12% total tax.”
UCLA public policy professor, Mark Kleiman claims that people like George Soros have backed the move to re-legalize cannabis, adding, “[t]he marijuana lobby is going from being purely ideological to being industrial.” He also asks, “Ten years from now will there be an evil marijuana lobby devoted entirely to preventing any effective regulation or taxation?”
I hope that in less than ten years there is a lobby devoted to preventing regulation or taxation of cannabis, as well as alcohol, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, and every other substance that any person can grow, manufacture, process, possess and/or consume. Though I wouldn’t dare call such a lobby “evil.”