(The following was published in the Newsleader on August 14, 2009)
On Tuesday of this week Oakland, California passed by an eighty per cent majority a new tax on the retail sales of their four medical marijuana dispensaries. A bit of research on this matter has revealed some amazing facts. According to Oakland's City Auditor sales from these four dispensaries is $17,500,000.00 per year. Oakland should realize $294,000.00 per year from the new tax. The measure ran unopposed. This column is not about taxes or the plight Californians finds themselves in concerning their budget woes however. No this is about something totally different. Read on.
Some further information regarding the legal selling of marijuana. California currently has eight hundred medical marijuana dispensaries, or pot clubs as they are called, operating today. If they all were doing the same business as the Oakland clubs, they would be generating $35,000,000,000.00 worth of business each year. That, folks is a lot of dope. More importantly, that's a lot of sick people. After all isn't this supposed to be prescribed medicine for sick people? Thirty five billion dollars represents 1,633,333,332 doses of medical marijuana. As I understand the law passed in 1996 to legalize medical use of this drug, one would have to have a prescription in order to buy it legally. That is a lot of prescriptions.
One would not have to be too skeptical to believe that the law was being slightly circumvented would they? The other amazing thing to consider is that this is just the numbers on the so-called legal sales of marijuana. Most of the users are doing so illegally. It does explain a couple of things though. The reason Californians are so strange is probably because they are all stoned. The second fact appears to be that the hippies have gotten older and are now in charge of California government and politics.
I personally am not a user of the magic weed. I tried it a couple of times when I was a kid, but frankly I find I prefer martinis. They taste better, they don't make you cough, and besides you get an olive. I don't even care if California decides to legalize the drug. That is their business. I do believe however that it is silly to call what they are doing now a medical procedure. We should call it what it is, pot heads getting stoned with the authorities looking the other way.
Legalization of this drug has been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature several times and will continue to be introduced until they win, I suppose. It would be interesting however to see what happens on the left coast before too many others step into the fray. If, like me, you have seen a person who was stoned, you would realize that they are pretty much harmless. The problem is that they are also helpless. It would be frightening to consider airline pilots, semi truck drivers, police officers, firemen, EMT personnel and doctors under the influence trying to do their jobs, let alone everyone else.
These are just some ramblings of one who is still trying to understand what it is about life in our world that is so problematic, so difficult that individuals need to medicate themselves to escape reality. I hope I never have to find out.
Ron Scarbro July 22, 2009
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