Lots of good news at the ballot box last week, as it seems that in addition to all those other wars, we’re now losing the Drug War too. The reefer reform lobby saw victory on 10 of 11 statewide ballot initiatives, proving once again that the people know better than Uncle Sam when it comes to Aunt Mary.
Congratulations to Massachusetts, which is set to become the 13th state to decriminalize the reef. Interestingly enough, Michigan became the 13th state to legalize so-called medical marijuana. I say interestingly, because lucky number 13 has long been the numerical symbol for marijuana… and Massachusetts and Michigan both begin with “M”, which is the 13th letter of the alphabet… Don’t get me started on the legend of the G-13… (perhaps Sunshine could chime in on the comments?)
Aw, dude, that cloud has a vein in it… and it’s bleeding on me, man! The cloud is bleeding on me! Wait, go back…
Let’s review that list of states that have decriminalized the maryjane (that is to say, possession of small amounts of marijuana is now a fine rather than a jailable offense): Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, and Mississippi… what’s missing from that list of “M” states? God damn right, Maryland. If Missouri and Montana turn before Maryland, so help me… (The remaining states that round out the 13 are Alaska, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon.)
But honestly, why are we just nibbling at these trifling, archaic reefer laws? Last I checked, we’re staring down the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Estimates about the value of the United States’ domestic reefer crop vary anywhere from $4 to $25 billion (source: Reefer Madness, by Eric Schlosser, 2003). In fact, here’s a nice little passage from that book:
In 1997 the Austrian economist Friedrich Schneider calculated the rise of America’s “shadow economy” by tracing changes in the demand for currency. According to Schneider, in 1970 the size of the underground was between 2.6 and 4.6 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 1994 it had reached 9.4 percent of the GDP – about $650 billion.
Granted, reefer only accounts for a small portion of our black market. But still, let’s get it out in the open! I find it interesting that in 1933, Congress got the ball rolling to repeal Prohibition just as FDR was coming into office. That year was dedicated to jump-starting the economy by any means necessary… Sound familiar? Don’t forget, booze had been outlawed by the 18th Amendment, so rolling that back with another constitutional amendment required ratification by each state, no small feat. By comparison, decriminalizing ganja, which is not explicitly outlawed by the Constitution, should be a breeze.