October 20th, 2009 :: Permalink
Aloha David ~
You asked, "why not decriminalize it already and tax and regulate it for what it is: a recreational intoxicant just like alcohol." Yes, why not?
There was a spirited-debate by bloggers yesterday related to HA's report of falling revenues in Waikiki. Do we cut needed public services, reduce state worker pay or hours, or increase taxes to cover the shortfall? All sides have compelling arguments.
One question is missed - how does Hawai'i rediscover our "competitive" advantage? It's not easy for small businesses here unless they are related to tourism - which bounces up and down. Costs are high; distance to the mainland is problematic; and Hawai'i no longer produces goods or services not available elsewhere.
While I don't believe the U.S. has anything uniquely similar to Hawai'i, the closest comparison seems to be Las Vegas. Hawai'i provides a get-a-way spot for weddings, anniversaries, conventions and entertainment.
Why not have the courage to take the leap as has Las Vegas ... We know the slogan, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." The state has legalized "sin" in about every way possible. Why not decriminalize pakalolo in the islands?
I know many kama'aina who provide tourists with this herbal medication. They aren't "pushers" standing near school playgrounds. They are responding to demands of otherwise law-abiding adults.
I know a man who allows his 14-year-old son to manage transactions ... good business experience as paper routes are so 1950s. It brings in needed income for the family and they likely use their underage son to skirt adult herbal criminal issues.
Our location in the middle of the Pacific makes this an excellent proving ground. Bags coming in and out undergo intense inspection. It would be relatively easy to deter shipments of pakalolo to the mainland. What one does on the islands would remain on the islands.
There are numerous world-class herbal farmers in the state. Climate and available land provide optimal conditions for a competitive product. Hawai'i could be the Amsterdam of the west.
The herbal product would be regulated. Herbal dispensaries would be licensed. Taxes would accrue to government and help lessen the load on residents and business alike. As a nation we spend an estimated $40 billion a year in a failed law enforcement model. Police, judges, jails and prisons are overwhelmed. Official policy evolves more toward looking the other way each day.
We can look to Los Angeles for an overview of the challenges. The city is gridlocked currently over the exploding number of medical marijuana dispensaries. "How can this be?" politicians ask. We live in a capitalistic society and are shocked when we observe supply increasing to meet demand. While the number of dispensaries has grown exponentially, we have witnessed no instance of violence; nobody has toked and tried to float away on a Mylar balloon (well, maybe one case).
The bottom line is American society has reached a tipping point. The vast majority of aging citizens no longer views pakalolo as a dangerous drug (young people never did) ... how could so many have survived the 60s and college so successfully had the false warnings been true?
We are at a crossroads in our society. The recent financial collapse should have been a siren's call. We are shedding jobs and industry. We have lost our competitive advantage. Decriminalizing marijuana will not solve all our problems yet this "war" has been ongoing for 70-80 years. If we have learned anything from our invested billions (if not trillions), demand it's not going away and it's time to join the Green (herbal) revolution.
Aloha Fluffy ~
Mahalo for your thoughts. You wrote, "... it is hard to come by such explicit honesty in revealing Democrat party's moral cretinism."
Thank you. I am imperfect, fail on occasion, yet will be honest with you. But I do not speak for the Democratic party. If you have a problem with my character, do not blame others. I accept kuleana for my actions.
Let me show you my morality ... I'll be honest. I have used pakalolo. Over 100 million American have as well. I'm in a proud group. People get together and connect; they might giggle too much; they might enjoy a sunset by the kai; but they pose no threat to you. They pose no threat to themselves. In the last month, about 30 million Americans used this product.
Fluffy, you wrote, "As a Libertarian, the idea of Decriminalization appeals to me ..."--- the idea APPEALS to you? You should stand with us. A courageous libertarian wouldn't be confused on this question. There is no logical reason to continue this failed regulatory policy. We are wasting over $40B in tax dollars per year; we are building more jails than schools. And more people use the product than ever.
You can try to wish this away -- but it lives UNDERGROUND. This encourages mafia, thugs, cretins and terrorists.
Los Angeles showed us the truth. Once the regulatory door opened, if only a crack, the underground world was exposed to the light. Herbal pharmacists who had been dealing for years, now put up a sign. You can see their eyes; you can inspect their product.
Would you rather battle this "recreational intoxicant" face to face or in the shadows?
Police officers want this change; judges want this change; a strong majority of Americans, people from the right, the left or middle, know this change is overdue.
Finally, (I don't have kids by the way) people lose respect for the law when it is not pono. This is why we are looking the other way. It is an embarrassment to our system, a system not of people, but of law.
Either commit to locking up over 30 million Americans or put our minds together to design an intelligent regulatory compromise on this challenge. This reflects my point about an America which was inspired to go to the moon -- to go where nobody had gone before.
This generation seems to prefer belittling each other and applauding meanness rather than touching our destiny.