Pragmatism and Marijuana Legalization in Colorado

As the masochists that for some reason follow along with my social and political musings know, I’m a staunch believer that the War on Drugs is not just a disastrous failure in terms of wasting money, resources and destroying lives over the last forty-some years, but that we should repeal all drug prohibition. At the very least, that ending marijuana prohibition should be a no-brainer.

That hasn’t changed. However, since I’ve been in Colorado, where it’s legalized and shops exist in the downtown area, I’ve gotten first-hand experience into how such legalization will play out with the varying dynamics between city council, business owners (of the marijuana shops and otherwise), and citizens that live here.

And it’s…interesting. Predictably, you run into the “not-in-my-backyard” types or the ones that fear marijuana will end up in little kids’ lunch boxes, but mostly, the central two problems appear to be: 1.) Odor and 2.) Too many operations in the area.

Admittedly, when you get within 100 feet of The Green Joint in the downtown, you can smell the marijuana. Such has been the concern of business owners and citizens when new operations petition to get building permits or licensing or grow their existing medical operation into a recreational operation as well.

Likewise, I can understand the fear that there may be too many right now, but I also dismiss basing what’s a good number on vague ideas like “the needs of the adult inhabitants.” I want the market to decide those needs, not city councilmen and women. Moreover, I do find it odd how dismissive city council is of the tourist dollar considering I’m not entirely sure if Glenwood would be Glenwood without the tourism attention, traffic and dollar.

Finally, it does bother me to see how the different standards and rationales for accepting one operation and not another and so forth pits business owner against business owner. I’ve seen one owner of one marijuana shop petition against another. They, of course, preface that they like competition, but it’s clear that either, A.) They don’t want the competition or B.) They’re pissed the government accepted their competitors or are even merely considering it, when they denied theirs.

I could get into a philosophical musing about what government makes us do to each other based on that last paragraph, but suffice it to say for now, I just find seeing how marijuana legalization is playing out in a practical, real-world way interesting.

There are going to be these types of bumps in the road, no doubt. You’re talking about reversing a century of prohibition and the cultural acceptance is not entirely there yet, either. But it’s worth doing, undoubtedly in my view.

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