Colorado: the beginning of the end of Prohibition (recreational cannabis use)?

Looking at it from afar, it looks like the dam has finally cracked and there’s no way back now. All the arguments practiced for decades get to be seen in situ:

[ul]
[li] Millions in tax revenue (a 21.22% sales tax)[/li][li] Taken the kids away from criminal gangs[/li][li] Regulating quality and quantity[/li][li] Releasing police to concentrate on crime[/li][li] Smaller jail populations[/li][li] The absurdity of a war on abstraction[/li][li] The horror of so many lives wasted in detention[/li][/ul]
After decades of the surreal and utterly absurd ‘War on Drugs’, finally sanity is beginning to prevail - right?
eta: link to Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/01/colorado-first-recreational-marijuana-sales

I am hardly opposed to your position, but I don’t see any evidence of the benefits you tout in the article linked.

For what it’s worth, it looks like a well-funded medical marijuana initiative is going to fall short here in Florida - not enough signatures to make it onto the ballot.

I guess the point might be that all the arguments that used to be refuted with ‘yeah, but it’s just a theory’ and ‘but look at this study of 3 chimps in Leipzig’ now do not apply: there is a real life legal experience here, on a massive state-wide scale.

It’s worth a try. We’ve tried for decades to eradicate pot use with no success. If the tax revenue is significant and the other claims pan out, then good for Colorado and let’s try it elsewhere.

Taking each of those points individually:

  1. Not sure if it’ll be millions, but there will be some tax revenue raised.
  2. How much gang activity is tied solely to marijuana? My guess: none
  3. Not sure that is a problem with illegal marijuana, but maybe.
  4. There will still be an illegal drug trades since legal marijuana is more expensive.
  5. Probably not significantly. Not sure how many recreational users are jailed.
    6 and 7. This looks redundant to 5.

A tiny bit. There are still plenty of drugs, like cocaine, that are widely popular but illegal.

Not sure about this. Are Colorado head shops charging more than the street price?

I think you’re waaaaay out of touch. And that’s just point 1. Iirc, Colorado has ear-marked the first $40 million in tax revenues for schools.

This is huge. Really. Media may be playing it down (or not) but this is an immense social game changer.

The legal stuff is $60 for an eighth. The street price has plenty of elasticity, but maybe the major dealers will give up on CO and concentrate on more friendly markets (ie, markets where they have no legal competition).

A lot of recreational users were jailed with a lot of states mirroring the federal statute of upto 1 year in jail and a minimum fine of $500+. First offenses would usually be just a fine, but repeat offenders would tend to go to jail when the police found a joint on them for the second+ times.

Those laws have been changing to simple tickets in the last decade as the costs of incarceration have proven to be fairly high for a lot of state budgets to simply absorb for an infraction that has increasingly been “what’s the big deal?” in the public eyes.

It’s got to be worth it to not have fines, lawyer fees, losing your job/house due to jail time.

I don’t know how much crime is associated with dealing/buying pot but any reduction is a good thing.

This would go doubly for the growers, which would help drive the cost down more. Additionally, they don’t have to worry about spending money on stealth, and can use lit greenhouses. On top of that, they don’t have to worry about being ripped off or burgled without any hope of recovery. Now, they can just go to the cops when that happens.

Hell, I wonder if they can buy crop insurance? - Ehh, it’s probably not quite that rosy. There are still the Federal Laws that prohibit the cultivation, etc.

It seems that by law, the sellers have to grow all of their product themselves. The initial fees/licensing are steep, but don’t seem any worse than licensing a bar.

Just from a convenience standpoint, I really don’t see how it can’t stomp out the black market, unless the stores can’t keep themselves in stock and have to turn to the black market themselves.

What would you rather do:

  1. Track down some guy you kind of know, and arrange a time/place to meet, for prices and product that are revealed on the spot? You know he gives you better prices than he does your brother, which makes you wonder what kind of deal his actual friends get, but he’s consistent - and at least his stuff never tastes like Windex.

  2. Go to the store and buy clearly marked/priced weed.

Remember, option #1 is almost a best-case scenario. Most black market marijuana buys aren’t even that reassuring.

There’s probably going to be a bootlegging black market in dry counties, the kind where there’s a guy who’ll sell you some out of his back door. Heck, we have that with alcohol in dry Texas counties. The bootleggers in Texas usually cater to those who can’t venture out of their county, for a variety of reasons. Due to that being a small slice of an already small population, it probably won’t contribute to the crime level in a noticeable way.

If it were legal here in Tennessee, about 35% of the people I know would be buying supplies for the coming winter storm from a licensed shop. As it is, about… oh… I don’t know… hmmm… 35% of the people I know are busily trying to buy as soon as possible because we have a major winter storm coming. But, my guess is because of the influence of law enforcement around here and the steady stream of revenue from drug busts that it will be a decade or two before it is legalized here. I applaud Colorado and hope that eventually our court system and penal institutions will be relieved of the burden of housing all of those “evil” marijuana smokers.

Didn’t know you could smoke an abstraction.

I can’t imagine drug bust revenue is greater than potential tax revenues (which don’t require huge police resources). Besides, bust revenue is limited to ancillary seizures: cars, cash, etc. They’re not selling off the product.

I could see the Colorado experience pressuring changes at the federal level, although that will likely take a longer time. The initial problem is leaky borders. Does all of the cannabis have to be grown & processed & sold & consumed only in Colorado? That will be very very difficult to police, unless they build a wall around the state and do something about flights in and out. Not likely. So, at the risk of states declaring war on each other over this, the feds will have to make a choice.

In addition, I welcome this move as it serves to push out the “Medical Marijuana” fiction. Please, can we just stop with that nonsense?

^ As the article says, you can’t - legally - leave the state with your purchase.

But also, really, who wants to spend tax dollars policing state borders with Co … yay, lets put more people in prison - that cross-border absurdity is exactly how change will gain momentum.

World’s first legal recreational marijuana sales begin in Colorado

– bolding mine.

Why would they? “Marvel” that is? It’s not like they are dealing with a bunch of drunks.

I think they were expecting a “Black Friday” style event, where people trample others getting into WalMart for the cheap TVs or something. The police (and tax officials, of course) were certainly out in force around the dispensaries.

Because had they a few well-placed agent-provocateurs amongst the rabble they would have had the excuse to crush the spaced-out enraged dope-fiends who were tearing the joint apart.

the phrase ‘journalistic license’ springs to mind: ‘Governent officials’