If you’ve been paying attention, we are poised to vote yet again for recreational use, and PLEASE sign up to say yes, but there are a few caveats to making our little state a utopia of weed. In places like California, Canada and Oregon, some tough lessons were learned. We could easily bypass them if our lawmakers play well with others:
- Greed and weed are not good together. If Okie powers tax the snot outta the weed market, the black market will flourish, and they’ll lose all. The underground has no scruples, and our lawmakers cannot afford to forget that they will always be at least three steps behind the Black Market.
- Add to the above statement, making weed something that caters to the rich elite pocketbooks has not done well. Oregon and Colorado tried the big biz approach, even going so far to push low income housing out of various towns like Denver to accommodate grow opps only to have much of the legal market tank.
- There are numerous people sitting in prison on weed charges in Oklahoma (yep, true story). Some were arrested even after we went legal (proof that you need a card until we go recreational, people!), and it’s testament to the fact that prisons are big business, they target minorities (minorities are incarcerated two to three times more often on marijuana offenses than their white counterparts. True story), and we spend a lot of money to keep people in prison. Our tax dollars have better use…like schools, infrastructure and affordable housing for starters.
- Black Market weed is not “the same as the dispensary stuff”. Let’s dispel that myth. Black Market does not care what they do to your “stuff”, they get your money, end of story. Many pop-up’s use excessive amounts of chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and cannabis will leach heavy metals from soil naturally. Your discount Black Market stuff could make you sick. California is having big problems with pop-ups killing local wildlife, contaminating waterways, and hurting people who wanted to save money. It’s also costing California almost all of their tax dollars to chase down these pop-ups, almost destroying the happy feeling from the tax money California made. There are dispensaries popping up all over the place as well, making their problems even bigger.
What’s the takeaway? That’s easy.
- Lawmakers: don’t be overly greedy with the tax thing. People will pay taxes, but 30 percent? In a state that barely keeps the lights on? Get real.
- Stop embracing the hate. We need to see the money gathered from taxes going to things other than prisons. Oklahoma is not unique in that we have the Haves and the Have Nots. The Haves are buying MMJ too. We could all benefit from better education, drug rehab for people who have addiction issues and a program for people who can’t afford MMJ for opioid withdrawal.
- Everyone must stay legal and honest. Canada was an example that Oklahoma chose to follow but Canada is having problems with illegal weed; only 46 percent of MJ is bought legally in Canada, up from 21 percent in 2018.
If we all play nice and legal, show where the tax dollars go, and people see benefit from paying into the tax system, Oklahoma could avoid these pitfalls. Massachusetts has been open and honest, used the money as promised for drug education and rehabilitation. While their system is not perfect, they are not investing so heavily in chasing down Black Market illegal operators.