Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Legalize Marijuana?

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Marijuana is the hot issue again. Legalize it or keep it criminalized, that is, in the black market? Personally, I like the black market idea. At least it remains untaxed and unregulated. Legalizing marijuana would increase the government’s revenue and this option should always be discouraged. It’s pretty unlikely that, if legalized, the government wouldn’t tax and regulate the hell out if it. Seeing that taxing and regulating every else in the economy has led to economic fascism, this would likely be the outcome of legalization. When governments decide what is right and wrong, they also decide who gets to be right and wrong.

In marijuana legalization it may be the tobacco companies that reap the rewards. Assuming that the government doesn’t contract out the exclusive right to grow and sell the drug to “Big Tobacco,” these companies would likely beat their black-market competitors to the newly-minted legalized market. They have the capital, land and marketing to pull off the mass production of weed cigarettes. And it’d be in the government’s best interest to keep these guys on top. They’re already regulated tooth and nail, imagine the bureaucratic job creation when marijuana is legalized!

Legalizing marijuana may not be such a great thing, after all. But I don’t like its current illegality either. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police recently proposed a fine for those caught with 30 grams or less. I’m concerned about the arbitrary amount of possession, but I like the idea. Why stop at 30 grams? Why not just fine people who have been “caught” with marijuana consumption, investment or production? Why even get the provincial and federal governments involved? I wholeheartedly support Canadian police keeping fine money for themselves. It’s better than some bureaucrat in a far away office. Fining people for marijuana involvement is like taxing people for engaging in commerce. If these fines were going to the local police department, at least it’d help drive home the message that cops aren’t using a legitimate business model.

Marijuana could exist in a limbo state where it remains illegal but cops don’t target it unless urged by members of the local community. Cops could issue fines for pot smokers if they are growing, selling or smoking in areas other individuals in the community disapprove of. If your a stoner living in a town of busy-body neighbours – perhaps it’s time to leave. There are plenty of communities in Canada that adopt a “to each his own” attitude. Whitehorse, Yukon is a good example. In these places, nobody cares if you grow or smoke pot unless it interferes with their legitimate (or perceived) property rights. Otherwise, the cops have no reason to intervene.

In this limbo state, small-time marijuana producers have opportunities to create some genuine wealth because: a) their enterprise is not taxed and unregulated; b) the taboo on production, marketing and commercial sales are ignored so small-time marijuana producers can operate – more or less – like a normal business. And if legal technicalities on tobacco companies producing marijuana arise, the biggest competitors are barred from entering the field. This, c) changes the short-term structure of production. Capital intensive machinery would likely originate back to more labour intensive work, unaffected by minimum wage laws.

It’s unlikely that this “limbo state” would ever occur, but real-life scenarios cast an interesting picture. Vancouver is aptly nicknamed Vansterdam due to lack of enforcement of federal pot laws. Perhaps that’s all it takes – persuading the individuals of your local police department to disobey orders.


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