Savage Thoughts -- Marijuana

By Leo Savage

This one is easy. Marijuana should be legal, on par with alcohol. Why not? I can tell you why it isn't.

First of all, there are (as there have always been) a substantial number of people who take great delight in telling other people what they can and cannot do. If you enjoy doing it, these people would like to make you stop. They would make sex illegal if they could (and from time to time they have, like the Shakers did until they all died out). At various times and places right here in this country singing, dancing, holding hands in public, and owning a dog have all been illegal. For a good long while having a friendly beer with your neighbor was illegal in all fifty states (possibly excepting New Jersey, which I am told refused to enforce Prohibition). Even now skinnydipping is illegal almost everywhere, even in private.

But sooner or later sensible people have told the prigs to buzz off. Why hasn't that happened with marijuana?

The answer is money. Marijuana is just too darned easy to grow. If you found it in your garden, you'd have trouble getting rid of it. It's a weed, after all.

DISCLAIMER: Of course, I have no direct experience in this matter. I've never even seen what marijuana looks like. I've never smoked it, and would never have inhaled. I don't even know anybody who has ever smoked it. I'm going strictly on third- or fourth-hand information from total strangers I once met overseas.
You can brew your own beer, ferment your own wine, and you can even distill your own whisky at home if you like, but it ain't easy. My father once made his own wine. He tells me it's pretty easy to make wine, but very hard to make wine you'd want to drink. I know from my own experience that it's neither easy nor cheap to make decent beer at home. As for homemade whisky, any moonshine I've ever tasted was the nastiest stuff you'd ever go out of your way to avoid.

This gives government a virtual monopoly on alcohol, since any commercial producer has the BATF as a silent partner on top of the corporate taxes they pay. They would not have that monopoly on marijuana, since the easy and obvious response to high taxes is to grow your own. There is also the possibility (probability?) of a huge "grey market" of private sales and barter between individuals to avoid paying taxes. The only way the government could get and hold a monopoly on marijuana similar to the one they have on alcohol is if the taxes were kept so low that commercial reefer would be cheap enough to discourage homegrown, or in other words by not collecting very many taxes.

Either way, the government doesn't get much money from marijuana, so there's no reason for them to make it legal. Instead, by keeping it illegal they shift some of the potential customer base into alcohol which is profitable for the government.

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