One of the hot topics on the Colorado State ballot this year is Amendment 64, regarding the “Use and Regulation of Marijuana.” The main goal of this amendment is
to change the regulation of marijuana, to essentially put it under the same regulation as alcohol. You must be older than 21 to purchase, consume or grow it — and the production and sale of it will be highly regulated and taxed.
An opinion article was published in this paper a couple of weeks ago taking a stance against this legislation, the thesis of the argument essentially being that those in favor of the amendment and marijuana in general are sad people who should be doing better things with their time.
I would like to politely disagree with this sentiment. The idea that doing great things for the world and smoking marijuana are mutually exclusive is a simplistic and narrow worldview — as if what people choose to do in their leisure time affects their drive elsewhere.
As both Michael Phelps and President Barack Obama have proven, smoking marijuana will not negatively affect your drive to become great unless you are willing to let it. So while signing legislation to legalize it may not be worthy of a Nobel Prize, smoking it won’t harm your chances at getting one either.
On top of that, the author also claims to be a strong believer in the freedom of choice and of free will, yet will not sign legislation to let others safely and legally practice their own choice and free will. A little hypocritical, don’t you think?
Enough rebuttal, though; back to the amendment itself. Perhaps you do not enjoy smoking marijuana — why should you vote in favor of this amendment? Well, as all things seem to boil down to this year, it’s all about the economy.
By legalizing marijuana, all that sweet, sweet black market money becomes taxable and reportable. With those taxes come things like repaired roads, school funding and other positive state and civil improvements. In fact, it is explicitly stated in the amendment that the first $40 million raised by the new excise tax will be required to be placed into a fund for state schools.
By essentially establishing a new market, there will be job creation in both the public and private sectors as the state will need to hire new bureaucrats to handle the regulation and oversight, while private citizens can begin growing and distributing marijuana with the proper regulation.
The fiscal impact of the passing of this legislation for state revenue from taxes alone is estimated to be somewhere between $5 million and $22 million per year. That doesn’t include all the potential revenue that would most likely come with the increased tourism either.
At least until the other states get on the legalization bandwagon, at which point marijuana can be exported to other states as a premium product. Kentucky has their bourbon, Colorado can have it’s marijuana.
When it comes time to make a choice at the voting booth this November, I hope all of you out there will have done more than decided to vote for whatever movement has put out the flashiest ads to catch your attention.
Don’t vote for or against an issue because some D.A.R.E. cop told you in the fifth grade that you can die from a marijuana overdose (you can’t) and don’t vote for or against a candidate just because a particular candidate uses a catchy single word slogan (Forward is a direction, not a political platform).
When it comes to making choices with regards to the governance of our fair state and country, we owe it to ourselves and to everyone else in the country to actually sit down and think about why it is you’re voting for or against something.
Read the legislation, investigate the running platforms, and exercise some critical thought. If your choice on an issue in the ballot can be summed up in one paragraph, you haven’t put enough thought into it. Do your civic duty and think.
Hamilton Reed is a senior computer science major. His columns appear Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.