a dispensary we saw last year in Colorado

Although we are against the use of recreational drugs and we’ve witnessed the negative results, this seems to be the lesser of the evils facing lawmakers.

Two years ago the Kapiti council voted to allow the sale of ‘legal highs’ or certain synthetic drugs in the district — see this Joel Maxwell story on the stuff website.

Synthetic marijuana has made the news in the last couple of weeks because of the disastrous effects it has on those who smoke it.  The government can ban it, but to make their substance legal again the manufacturers just need to alter the formula.  We’re told that the real stuff is getting hard to obtain, so consumers simply switch to this.

In the 1980s the Reagan administration in America declared war on drugs, but over 30 years later it’s a war that has not been won. In the U.S. a lot of the drug trade is controlled by the Mexican Mafia; here’s it’s often controlled by gangs.  Needless to say, it’s very profitable. Rival gangs fighting over the same territory sees a lot of violence; while users wanting money to pay them resort to theft and burglary.

At the time of the 2012 Presidential elections, Colorado and Washington states voted to legalise marijuana and these states have since been joined by Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts.    They are not free of restrictions, though: California’s Prop. 64 measure allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.  Other tax and licensing provisions of the law will not take effect until next January.

From a financial viewpoint, it’s been good for these states; they collect sales tax and the ‘dispensaries’ have to pay normal business taxes — before they collected nothing, if you exclude the stashes of cash sometimes seized by police.

Smoking anything isn’t good for you and there should be healthy ways to get natural highs — from exercise or, for former mayor Ross Church, driving a powerful car while listening to Led Zeppelin.  But there are always going to be people who will seek quick escape from drudgery with a drug, be it alcohol, tobacco or pot.   It’s better for it to be subjected to supervision than in the hands of the black market as prohibition doesn’t work.