The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

From the editor's desk

The case for marijuana


Source: City of Valdez website

The city's website features the Commercial Cannabis Corner, a page with information on marijuana regulations.

A majority of Alaskans supported the legal commercialization of marijuana in the 2014 elections - and it would be hurtful to Valdez to opt out of any of the numerous economic opportunities that historic vote is opening up for our state and community.

A vocal minority has arisen in Valdez, protesting a number of the provisions allowed under the new regulations. Many are using a familiar cry: protecting children.

While we recognize the genuine concern, we are genuinely concerned that enacting some of the prohibitions that have been suggested are not going to help anyone's children regardless of how old or young they are.

It is up to parents to teach children values and how to make good choices. Young people have to make value judgments every day - the same as us grownups. Teaching children about marijuana use is no different than teaching them about the other choices they will face in their lives: alcohol, sex, food, driving cars, how they treat their fellow human beings.

Every single day, people - especially teenagers - face choices in how to react to these things.

Whether it's sold (and grown) in a retail outlet near you or sold illicitly by some guy with a bunch of baggies in his pocket, commercial marijuana is already happening in Valdez. That train left the station a long time ago.

Anyone who doesn't believe that marijuana is already being grown commercially in Valdez - yes in residential neighborhoods - is painfully unaware of modern reality.

With legalization, Alaskans gain much needed tax dollars and those willing to take the chance on going into the business legitimately will face the risks of losing capital or reap the rewards of success.

In fact, any higher taxing of commercial marijuana runs the risk of keeping the guy with the baggies in his pocket on the streets and the legitimate, tax-paying merchants out of business.

The statewide regulations people have to abide by to obtain a license to grow and or sell marijuana are expensive, extensive and heavily taxed by the state.

Security, including cameras, testing, the upfront costs and ongoing red tape to legitimately enter the marijuana business in Alaska is extensive - even draconian.

It's designed to protect the citizenry - especially children.

Even purveyors of alcohol do not face nearly the same burdens - and many would argue that the cost of social ills surrounding alcohol far outweigh those from marijuana - whether it is legal or not.

I assure you the guy with the baggies in his pocket will not have his product tested, protected and taxed like legitimate operations must.

Nor will he have the welfare of children in mind.

Creating additional roadblocks to commercial, highly regulated, marijuana will keep the baggie guy in business - tax free - while inhibiting legitimate business with its highly lucrative sin tax.

A 2015 White House report claimed that Americans spend about $100 billion (yes, billion) on illicit drugs every year - and 40 percent of that is spent on marijuana.

That's $100 billion in untaxed trade.

Legalization not only raises tax revenue - it is being credited with reducing drug violence along the US/Mexico border as legitimate US producers are reducing the demand for foreign pot.

How is that not good for families?

Making it more difficult for legitimate business people to enter the marijuana trade only increases social ills and does not do one thing to help children.

How is that good for families?

Wikimedia Commons Germany

Cannabis sativa female plant under sodium light.

Some call marijuana a gateway drug and claim it leads to abuse of narcotics. However, science tells us that drug addition is a medical condition but society treats it as criminal.

Enforcing drug laws and criminalizing marijuana users is big business.

Legalizing or further criminalizing marijuana is not going to stop those afflicted with drug addiction either way. Heck, many abusers are otherwise law-abiding citizens who are hooked on prescription medications and have no idea they are actually drug addicts.

Illicit use of heroin and other opiates is at epidemic proportions across the country.

Using future marijuana tax dollars to treat addiction sounds like a winner for everyone - especially our children.


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