Sunday, November 02, 2014
Concerns about legalizing recreational marijuana
As a cautious libertarian I was cautiously pleased and optimistic about Colorado and Washington legalizing recreational use of marijuana for adults. These two excerpts from the NYT raise two big issues about the wisdom of those moves: First, the black market:
"Zach spends hundreds of dollars on smoking devices. But he has a side income. This evening’s session was preceded by visits to three medical marijuana dispensaries, where, using his state-issued card, he bought pot products to sell to friends at a markup. “Runners” — campus argot, as in running around buying for others — are an open secret on campus."
"Zach takes a seat on his overstuffed sectional and tells how it happened: His first day living on campus, a sophomore had taken him to a dispensary for a pizza with marijuana baked in. He asked how he could get his own card, and friends coached him on telling a doctor about anxiety, nausea or back pain. “I just said I had a bike accident when I was younger, and that caused lower back pain, which caused nausea and that caused anxiety,” he recalls. “I was afraid it wouldn’t happen, so I just got all three knocked out.” He presented a bill mailed to his dorm as proof he was a state resident, which he wasn’t, and received a card allowing him to access medical marijuana immediately, two ounces at a time.
Some of Zach’s clients are under 21 and cannot buy recreational cannabis legally. But others are older students who simply don’t want to pay the hefty tax — three times that levied on medical marijuana. So despite the abundance of recreational cannabis products since the first retail shops opened in January, there is still a vibrant black market for medical marijuana, which has been legal in Colorado since 2001 with a doctor’s recommendation.