MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Overshadowed by the recent budget and deficit grand farce in DC, Washington State and Colorado have promulgated the regulations under which marijuana will be sold. This comes in the wake of 2012 referendums that legalized the private growth and use of pot in the two states.
The Seattle Times reported in mid-October that the state Liquor Control Board -- without controversy -- adopted guidelines for cultivation and sales in Washington. Colorado had already set up a framework for implementing the de-criminalization of pot there.
Beyond the social and cultural issues -- and polls -- trending toward the legalization of pot use, the two states will become national models on whether or not the sale of marijuana will lead to sizable increased tax revenue for barebones public budgets.
It is worthy of note that in Washington the Liquor Control Board is in charge of overseeing marijuana legalization. The alcohol industry has generally worked against ending marijuana prohibition. It fears that events such as the Super Bowl will become a pot fueled munchy fest instead of the traditional downing of beer and shots of whiskey and bourbon.
In short, given a presumed somewhat fixed amount of consumer money to spend on getting high, marijuana is likely to cut into liquor industry sales.
In fact, an article in The National Journal claims that big alcohol is fighting back at arguments that marijuana is personally healthier and less destructive to society (think car accidents and violence) than getting drunk: "Marijuana has been giving alcohol a bad name. So contend booze lobbyists, who are getting sick of an ad campaign that makes the claim that pot is safer than their beloved beverages."
Maybe Budweiser has a right to be worried. It could be that in the near future, we might here less of "can you pass me a beer?" and more of "hey, don't bogart that joint."
In Tuesday's off-year election, The New York Times reported that decriminalization initiatives passed by landslide margins in localities around the country, including by 30% in Portland, Maine.
(Photo: Bunch of Pants)