My home state of California recently adopted a new state herb–Marijuana. Reactions to the new pot legalization laws were mixed, from joyous, bud-loving hippies to fearful, the end-of-days are upon us, evangelicals. Me–for the most part, I don’t care.
The medicinal marijuana crowd touts the benefits of the stuff as a cure all for whatever ails you. With the new law, I suppose, people won’t have to crowd doctors offices in search for a medical marijuana card for such tragic conditions as acne and melancholy. The medical pot shops now have to figure out how to tap the larger recreational market, because in 2018 they will be able to commercially sell for recreational use.My attitude has mellowed over the years. Having investigated large harvesting operations run by cartel funded gunmen, large mega-grows on boobytrapped public land, aren’t in anyone’s best interest. If a wide-based recreational use law will take the cartel out of the equation, and make the national forest lands safe to hike through again, I’m all in. Hell, I’ll throw in a bag of Baked Lays, or Funyuns and let them go smoke to their little heart’s content.
But, it’s not that simple. There is crime that associates itself with marijuana cultivation. Just this week, in Yuba County (North of Sacramento) two deputies were shot responding to a report of a man pulling pot plants out of a Rastafarian Church. Thankfully, the two officers survived and are recovering. The supposed “church” hadn’t paid the assailant, so he decided to collect his own payment, apparently. The man, a previously deported criminal with a prior prison record, was killed in his exchange of gunfire with the responding deputies. Is this the kind of pot-worker we can expect as the market expands?
An expansion of grow operations, means some of that product will be “exported” to other states with less liberal laws. Not to mention that this export won’t have to pay tax on the under the table sales. This week, a California man was arrested in Louisiana in possession of more than two pounds of weed in his Honey Nut Cheerios. Here in California, we don’t take our claim to be the nation’s farm to bong capitol lightly.
Also this week, a headline ran in a local paper, that there will be more pot shops than Starbucks in Sacramento. Over 100 new businesses have applied for permits to sell recreational pot in the “Green Rush” that is underway ahead of the January 2018 smoke-off date. The County expects to collect over $15 million in tax revenue from these recreational pot shops. But, there are already an estimated 1,000 illegal pot shops estimated to be operating in Sacramento County.
You would think with all this herb, we’d be a mellow bunch here in the Golden State. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Crime data shows homicide, rape, robbery and assault–all up, and way above the national average crime rate. (Property crime spiked up hard–where else do you think the drug users get the cash for their dope? It’s a cash based business after all, because how do you report income to the feds on an illegal (under federal law anyway) activity?
I’m not advocating a return to a failed war on drugs policy that cost billions and ruined thousands. It’s more of a sense of, be careful what you asked for, because the seedy underbelly of the pot business, and all the crime that goes along with it, isn’t going away because you pass a recreational use law. Excessive taxes, complicated permit process and cities who restrict where shops can operate will push users back into the underground–illicit weed market.Like I said, you want to light up–fine. Go do it. Don’t get behind the wheel. And far be it from me to harsh your mellow, but don’t forget about everything that comes along with your choice.