November 21, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 47

Dr. Wes

As the state of Washington goes to pot, someone ought to be doing the math

By Dr. Wes Browning

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I’m very happy that marijuana will be legal here in a couple of weeks.

It’s not that I use the stuff. I hate it. Smoking it makes me cough so much I can’t breathe, and the high I get is undetectable unless I alternate hits with swigs of Jack Daniel’s.

For years I wondered, how could that be? How could it be that I could be totally unaffected by this drug that was supposed to be such a big deal?

Then at a party I was talking to a friend who was enjoying her medically prescribed weed, and we were getting along great as we usually do when she’s high, and it suddenly hit me, there’s the reason. The reason I get along so well with people who are buzzed is because I’m naturally buzzed all the time. So it’s not that I’m not high when I use pot, it’s that there’s no difference.

The end of marijuana prohibition in the state of Washington means that I might fit in again. The last time I really felt like I fit in around here was around 1967, the year that normal took a prolonged vacation.

I’m a little worried that the police won’t so easily stock up on pot by confiscating it from users. This could pose a serious social problem. Will they demand higher pay, so as to buy their own? I’m hoping the price comes down, or the police will be forced to invent bizarre excuses to raid distributors.

That concern is just the beginning of my worries. What are we going to do with all the jails we built to house all those petty pot smoking drug offenders? Aren’t the owner-operators of those jails going to be mad when they see their occupancy rates go down? Won’t they have to compensate by pressuring the government to criminalize something else?

What’s the next new no-good thing or no-good behavior that’s going to get me 90 days? Or is it just that the police are going to have to get more deliberate about going after possessions of an ounce and a half?

Maybe that’s what we need the police drones for. They can be equipped with electronic sniffers and find all the overly supplied users partying on balconies on the upper floors of condominiums.

If the end of the prosecution of small-time users frees time and resources to go after rich people who buy by the kilo, I guess I could take a while to rise up against the injustice.

It’s nice that the authorities dropped prosecutions of marijuana possession cases all over the state after I-502 passed.

I expect there will also be a strong push to have past convictions for marijuana possession expunged.

What we ought to do now, even before the law takes effect, is start keeping track of all the money we’re saving by not pursuing marijuana offenders, and start planning on using some of it for some good purpose. Don’t just forget where that extra money came from and use it just to build another hole in the ground.

It’s always the same, isn’t it? When the state saves money by not doing one fool thing, it takes it and uses it to do another fool thing. It never goes to pay teachers what they’re worth or to keep libraries open all year ’round, or to provide public toilets or new housing. It goes to build new roads we didn’t ask for, or buy remote controlled helicopters for our police or street cars to haul executives to and from Westlake on their lunch breaks.

I’m not even asking that the money be spent well. I’ve given up asking for that. All I’m asking for now is that it be accounted for and recognized for where it came from. I want a report at the end of every year, a public announcement like, “We saved X dollars this year by not prosecuting marijuana possession, and we bought this puppy with it.”

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