Sunday, August 20, 2006

Q: What If Pot Were Legal?

Hempfest is taking place at Myrtle Edwards Park this weekend, in Seattle, prompting a Seattle Times article which poses the question "What if pot were legal"?

I had the opportunity a few years back to talk to an ATF agent about this very question when I had become particularly frustrated in a long online debate over the subject. My suspicions (according to the ATF agent) were spot on. To sum up what the ATF agent told me (sorry, it's been years and it was something like a 45 minute conversation): It'd probably be controlled much like beer and wine.

Yes, you'd be able to grow your own, but only in limited quantity. Yes, you'd be allowed to give it to a small number of people, again, in limited quantities. No you wouldn't be able to sell or produce any over a given quantity or potency.

Sellers would be licensed much the same way pubs, liquor stores or restaurants would be. Taxes paid, forms to fill out, licenses to obtain. Forget about the guy with his basement lined in mylar, flourescent lights and 2,000 plants. He'd still be in big trouble just as before. He would be the equivalent of a shine still in the woods. And the government doesn't look kindly upon moonshiners.

Regulations would follow, probably for quality and safety. The list goes on. None of these possibilities are completely lost on our baked friends at hempfest, however:

If people are able to buy weed like liquor and beer, it will probably come with the same kind of corporate trappings, said Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

"I would love to see only nonprofit cooperatives ... or little produce stands," he said Saturday at Hempfest 2006. "But the truth is somebody is going to make a lot of money off of marijuana."
But a man who called himself Cloud, an organizer of Emerald Empire Hempfest in Eugene, Ore., worries that mom-and-pop artisans would get squeezed out if marijuana and its accoutrements went legit.

I'm not sure why the Hempfest crowd always gives me a chuckle, but maybe this is why:

"My parents don't know I'm here," said one boy, wearing a rainbow-colored, crocheted cap pulled over blond dreadlocks.

If his parents aren't themselves baked from roasting the chronic, I'm sure they'll know he's there. Afterall, it seems to me that marijuana attire hasn't changed for forty years- it's a freakin' uniform. Making assumptions about the age of his parents, it's very likely that they put on the exact same attire when they went a tokin'.

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