How Times Change….

My, my. Nothing like economic turmoil to wreak havoc on what a society thought it knew.

A Times article, “Can Marijuana Help Rescue California’s Economy” by Alison Statemen, reports that California is revisiting its strict rules on medicinal marijuana to consider whether the cash crop could help straighten out a bad economic situation. Apparently there’s enough money in the economy — it’s just a matter of what people are (not) spending it on.

According to Statemen, marijuana is California’s “biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion in annual sales, dwarfing the state’s second largest agricultural commodity — milk and cream — which brings in $7.3 billion annually.” Further, she writes, “[c]urrently, $200 million in medical marijuana sales are subject to sales tax. If passed, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act (AB 390) would give California control of pot in a manner similar to alcohol, while prohibiting its purchase to citizens under age 21.”

Another reason lawmakers are reevaluating legalizing marijuana is that it would result in the decrease of arrests, prosecution, and imprisonment, saving the state as much as $1 billion a year, Statement writes.

And, finally, adopting the law could make California “a model for other states” because as “[Democratic State Assembly member] Ammiano put it: ‘How California goes, the country goes.'” (Hmm. Perhaps this observation explains why the nation is so confused about gay marriage as well.)


I’m really quite surprised, but I don’t know that I should be. Quite a bit would change and for the same reasons that some things have not. Smoking bans won’t result in a move toward outlawing cigarettes any time soon because the government makes a killing on taxing the item. Further, I’m sure a lot has been learned from the U.S era of alcohol prohibition. The country decided that profiting off alcohol consumption was better — economically — for the country than policing it’s illegal trafficking. If history repeats itself here, gone would be a black market and in would come flood of income in proper capitalist fashion.

In a rhetorical sense, one of the most interesting results would be a partial collapse of the War on Drugs. It could change quite a bit of what the nation stands for and how it continues to portray its surpriority in global terms. I don’t want to run too far ahead with this idea, but the change could be huge. In a time when the country has just finished a two-term presidency that resulted in a substantial rise in unfavorable feelings toward the country, I wonder how the doxa of the nation and the globe would change as a result of a change like this one.

Difficult times can change just about anything, it seems. Let’s wait and see what happens.

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1 thought on “How Times Change….

  1. Did anyone else notice the less-than-subtle rhetoric of the links in this article?!
    –After the quotation on Ammiano’s logical argument, there’s a link to “See pictures of stoner cinema.” (Way to undermine!)
    –After a quotation from Professor Hay about potential *personal* problems, there’s a link to “See pictures of Mexico’s drug wars.” (Way to overstate!)

    It seems somewhat problematic that (in this article as elsewhere) the rhetoric over legalizing marijuana is conflated with its medical use:

    “A few days after he introduced the bill, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that states should be able to make their own rules for medical marijuana and that federal raids on pot dispensaries in California would cease. The move signaled a softening of the hard-line approach to medicinal pot use previous Administrations have taken.”

    As anyone who’s watched friends or family suffer through chemo, etc. knows, there’s a world of difference between regulating and dispensing a medicinal substance and legalizing a recreational substance — a distinction that seems to have become muddled in these economic debates.

    Interesting that this is coming up (yet again) on the 10th anniversary of the landmark medical study about the benefits of cannabis. (See for further coverage.)

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