Bill Maher is wrong, wrong, wrong.
I’ve been a fan of Bill Maher since Politically Incorrect first aired on Comedy Central. I’ve usually enjoyed his politics, but on weed, he is wrong. A lot of people are. Here’s their refrain:
Legalize it and tax it! It’s a great source of revenue.
This is a horrible idea. Sure, legalize the shit out of it. I live in Humboldt County and I have my own thoughts about a more graceful way to transition out of this limbo. But the idea that we should tax weed, and then just hand the tax revenue over to the government appalls me.
It’s nothing more than a sideways bribe: ‘Don’t arrest me for my stash, and you can take as much money off the top as you want.’ Unacceptable. How about you pot smokers beat this drum:
‘Leave me and my weed alone. Any revenue that goes to the government is going to be diverted to help all the people the war on marijuana has devastated over the years. You politicians won’t see a dime. AND you’ll legalize it sensibly because we’ll unelect you if you don’t.’
Tell them THAT.
When I read stories like this, my blood boils. A child was taken from her home in Texas, because her parents smoked pot while she was sleeping. She was put in substandard, overloaded foster care and shuffled around. She died in foster care, at the age of two. The foster parent is being charged with murder.
There are people still in jail and prison for marijuana offenses that we no longer consider crimes. There are men and women who can no longer get steady jobs because of their arrest records.
I suggest, to Bill Maher and all the others who favor legalization, change your tune. Insist that ANY tax revenue first be used to help restore the lives of people damaged by the war on marijuana. The ones who fought and grew it while it was still risky are still paying the price, while we buy from shiny new clinics and enter a world of quasi legalization. Don’t forget them.
The LA Times estimated in 2011 that state of California had collected between $58 million and $105 million on nearly a billion in retail sales of marijuana. As I drive down Highway 101 in Eureka, I’m struck by the insanity of it. To my left, the ‘Humboldt Hilton,’ our county jail. It is full of drug offenders. Our police and sheriff departments still seize assets of growers. Our prosecutors, funded by tax dollars, still put people on trial or plea-bargain them out for marijuana possession. I think that as growers and government reap the rewards of Prop. 215, they owe a lot of people gratitude, assistance–and an apology. It is insane that pot smokers are offering up this much money to a government that still treats marijuana possession as a crime.
I imagine a fund, created with the tax revenues, to help families like that one in Texas fight their legal battles. A fund that would review old cases with a more enlightened eye, and perhaps expunge some of the convictions. As we learn more about marijuana–or rather, as common sense takes over–we come to understand that the hippies were right. Don’t leave them to rot as you move forward. What was once a movement for justice is becoming an environmentally devastating money grab. Bring back the sense of justice and fairness.
It was only 10 years ago that Tommy Chong and a bunch of talented, enterprising glassblowers from Humboldt and around the country were arrested for making and selling bongs. It was a massive, multi-agency sting operation that destroyed people’s lives. No one can fight federal charges on a glassblowers salary.
Marijuana possession is legal in 20 states and D.C. While weed is sorta legal in Washington state, if you possess a bong, you are breaking the law and could go to jail. Yes, really. I imagine a fully funded legal review board, bringing state laws in alignment with the voters’ wishes. And if the voters in Washington really insist that it has to be joints, not bongs, within their borders, so be it.
If the states where marijuana was legal pooled their taxes, the weed smokers of America could help people like this in the future, and make reparations to those who’ve suffered in the past, as part of this crazy war.
Politicians are doing what they do best: grabbing money from everywhere, blind to hypocrisy. Don’t let them get away with it. DO NOT GIVE the state any access to the tax revenue, until the wrongs of the past have been set right. Don’t you agree, Bill?