Roy Exum: Sunday’s Smoke Signals

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Easter Sunday, just passed, was on April 20 this year and at 4:20 in the afternoon – Colorado time – there appeared a huge harsh-smelling cloud of acrid smoke that billowed in the air fully across the state. Make no mistake about it, in what will become a huge holiday in more states in the quick coming years, legal marijuana is here to stay and on Sunday at 4:20, everybody was laughing while they puffed pot.

Back in the earliest days of hippies and the like, marijuana got the codename of “4/20” when, legend has it, a group of free spirits that called themselves “The Waldos” at San Rafael High School in California would meet at 4:20 p.m. beside a statue of Louis Pasteur on the school grounds to inhale a little “ganga,” or “Mary Jane,” as the herb was also called by those in the loop.

Now, some 40-odd years later, it is all but a cinch that within the next several years almost all America will abandon its ridiculous war against marijuana and follow in the brave path that has legalized both medicinal and recreational marijuana in Colorado. Are you kidding me? The 420 mile-marker on I-70 running through the state has now been stolen so many times it has been replaced by one that reads, “419.99.” That’s the truth!

But the figure that had everybody gabbing about at Sunday’s great smoke-in was $6.17 million, which is the amount of money the state collected in tax revenues off of marijuana in the first TWO months of 2014 that the stuff has been available and taxable. Got your attention? In the next fiscal year that will begin on July 1 in Colorado, the state has budgeted $98 million in taxes on pot alone.

The state of Washington has also legalized marijuana and 20 other states now allow medicinal marijuana. This has enabled ArcView Market Research, a company in California, to determine the legal marijuana market in the United States is worth $1.53 billion, a number that will jump to $10.2 billion within the next five years.

With $10.2 billion a year, we could start a new country! So don’t think politicians, who can smell money faster than a trained drug dog can sniff out a reefer, aren’t studying America’s newfound acceptance of a well-known drug long forbidden by the U.S. government. According to the authorities, marijuana is still a Level 1 narcotic but don’t tell those who live in Washington D.C. If you get caught with a small amount in the nation’s capital you’ll get a ticket that you can settle for less than a parking violation.

Back to Colorado, state officials designated $40 million in pot taxes for public schools in the first two months. The trade organization that oversees the growing, harvesting, packaging and selling of marijuana within the state says almost 10,000 jobs have been created due to the new “industry” and goodness knows what the tourism figures will be – they’ve even got bus tours.

In Washington State they are conservatively budgeting $190 million in pot taxes during the first four years while California is raking in $105 million a year in taxes on medical dispensaries. Arizona, where there are 80 such dispensaries and more popping up every day, will go from $35.4 million in 2013 to an estimated $142.19 million in weed dollars this year.

Portland, Maine, voted to legalize marijuana as a municipality in November and organizers there feel certain they can guarantee $30 million in new taxes with marijuana. Rhode Island is currently studying a bill in the legislature that would regulate weed like alcohol and, if it passes, the tax revenue would be anywhere from $21.5 million to $82 million annually. Maryland, where medicinal marijuana was just approved by the governor’s signature and a recreational bill is still in the House, is figuring an yearly uptick of, oh, just about $134.6 million give or take a few dollars.

For the record, Alaska looks like the next state to fully legalize weed, with Arizona and California quick to follow. In Delaware a majority of the state’s voters support legalization, just like 66 percent of those in Hawaii. In Massachusetts the legalization approval is 50-50 among the polls but Nevada has almost 60 percent who favor it if the schools were to get all the tax money.

New York, Oregon, and Florida have groups actively pushing for legalization but what is the biggest stumbling block is the White House. After President Obama likened pot to drinking alcohol, attorney general Eric Holder seemed very open to looking at federal laws that one state after another is now openly ignoring.

I don’t think there is any question about it – 4/20 day in Colorado on Sunday sent a very visible smoke signal that times have changed. And then there is one other money figure you need to know. According to Harvard University economist Jeffery Miron, marijuana prohibition in the United States costs state and federal governments $17.4 billion (with a “b”) every year.

Please, such a battle is hopeless and long lost. We need to get on the train or be left at the station.

royexum@aol.com




Lawsuit May Bring More Security To Hamilton Place Mall

Good for the military veteran that is suing for getting shot on CBL's and ERMC's watch. With this past holiday season's traumatic events unfolding at the mall and clear evidence that ERMC security does not have the ability to insure the safety of the patrons, it is time for a lawsuit to get someone's attention.  This military veteran, who clearly saw combat due to the mentioned ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: McQueen & Her TVAAS

If I am reading my Ouija Board right, I suspect the Hamilton County School Board will vote to allow a controversial “partnership” to be formed with the state Board of Education tonight at its monthly meeting. State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen has said she will demand the one-sided partnership to take over the operation of five at-risk schools in Hamilton County and, if ... (click for more)

School Board Approves "Partnership" With State As "Lesser Of 2 Evils"

The County School Board on Thursday night voted 7-2 to join in talks with the State Department of Education leading to a Partnership Zone for five low-performing schools. Joe Smith and David Testerman voted against the plan. Other board members said the only alternative was for the state to take over several low-performing schools under the Achievement School District in which ... (click for more)

Jury Hears About Incident Behind Food Lion That Authorities Say Led To Triple Murders In Lookout Valley; Neighbor Saw Trio With Guns

A Criminal Court jury on Thursday was told about an incident behind the Food Lion on Brown's Ferry Road that authorities say was the motive for an April 9, 2014, massacre at a Lookout Valley trailer park. Brandon Jackson said the incident five days earlier involved Derek Morse, who is standing trial on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Baylor Rolls Past Cleveland For 30th win

The Baylor Lady Red Raiders have produced more than their share of outstanding volleyball teams in head coach Sarah Lail’s tenure, but this year’s team may be the best ever. There are no real superstars like in years past, but they have a talented group of young ladies who can beat you from any number of spots on the court. Facing one of its biggest tests of the season on ... (click for more)

Vols. UMass Matchup Pits 1998 National Champions

Tennessee takes on UMass on Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The game will feature a noon ET kickoff on SEC Network.     Tennessee (2-1) is coming off a 26-20 road loss to Florida on Sept. 16. Junior running back John Kelly set career highs with 141 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards and played a major role in the Vols' second half rally before the Gators ... (click for more)