Opponents of pot are still trying to wage social, ethical and moral arguments against the majority of citizens who voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana (Initiative 502). Legitimate concerns are lost in the perpetuation of misinformation and emotional irrationality, but what everyone seems to agree on is that marijuana does indeed grow money. So why aren't we talking about this inevitable, legal, emerging economic impact to our region and how it may help us grow out of the looming fiscal calamities that our communities are facing?
As many cities in our state rush to resurrect failed limit, prohibit, and ban policies to keep marijuana out of their communities, they fail to acknowledge the simple fact that marijuana is already here and has been flourishing for generations. Illegal and quasi-legal cannabis operations rake in enormous tax-free profits with little regulation, oversight or enforcement. Implementing I-502 may be our only chance to stop nurturing and sustaining organized crime, shut down dangerous amateur-extraction labs, eliminate hazardous home-baking enthusiasts, and put a stop to residential grow operations.
I-502 gives the state and local jurisdictions the power to regulate and tax authorized businesses who grow, process or sell marijuana. Although marijuana is still a federally illegal substance, the federal government has indicated they will not interfere with the efforts of states to legalize recreational marijuana if their highly regulated system works toward the elimination of the black market, avoids undue social harm (i.e. gets it out of the hands of children because they already have easy access to it), and prevents an exodus of cannabis products from crossing state lines. This is what everyone working in the legitimate medical cannabis community and the recreational marijuana industry is trying to accomplish. It's not a matter of if cannabis will be federally legal, it's now a matter of when.
We have a small window of opportunity to assist the I-502 visionaries who are launching well-capitalized businesses with professional management teams, to support existing ancillary businesses who are trying to enter the market, and to encourage cannabis innovators to come out of the closet with their new horticultural techniques, inventions and modified technologies they are currently using in the production and processing of marijuana. Tourism, commercial real estate, agricultural supply stores, equipment manufacturers and many other stagnant and declining business sectors will experience new streams of revenue from canna-businesses. With this new tax revenue, we can finally fund social services, education, environmental protection and all the other issues we proclaim to care so much about.
Labeled the Green Rush and pot-com, the legalization of marijuana is one of the biggest business opportunities in our region since the dot-com boom. It does not mean we are supporting a bunch of pot-smoking dudes enjoying good bud in public who are saturating our children with marijuana. Supporting I-502 means we are supporting legitimate entrepreneurs and innovators who are trying to take money away from drug cartels and unscrupulous dealers and putting it into our community coffers to create the kind of environment we all long to live in. Who would “just say no” to that?
Jamie Curtismith lives in Everett.
Editor's note: The Everett City Council is scheduled to debate the extension of a cannabis ordinance tonight at 6:30.