Anyone who knows me knows I’m cynical about politics. And for good reason. That said, I’m a big proponent of politicking for your interests, which brings me to Measure 91. The bill would legalize weed for recreational use and retail in Oregon.
It seems like a no-brainer, right? But I can’t get past one thing. If passed, regulation and taxation would be placed in the hands of the OLCC. Yes, that same OLCC that has shut down a rap venue or 20.
Let’s look past that drama for a second though. Colorado and Washington already legalized, with two different approaches and two different results. Colorado put together a task force to come up with recommendations on growing, selling, and taxation. Stores opened up this past January with reasonable prices and things have been running pretty smoothly. Washington, on the other hand, tasked the Washington State Liquor Control Board with regulation. The first stores opened up in July. Some places were selling bud for as much as $38 a gram (get all the way the fuck outta here).
Measure 91 more resembles the latter. As much as I want to see legalization, this is politics. Poorly written bills with nice sounding premises pass all the time. Then all the pork screws us later. Thus, one side of me says, fuck the temporary victory. Let’s get it right.
But then I think back to my first possession ticket. Coming out of the 7/11, seeing a cop car blocking off one entrance to the street. Driving around the block, only to get followed and pulled over for “driving suspiciously.” Fucking up with a bagged up bubbler in plain view. The cops treating it like a gun and telling me I could’ve robbed the store. Asking a question and getting backup called on me. Standing on the sidewalk forever, just so they could come back with a $500 ticket. The bubbler had residue from being smoked a grand total of two times.
Later on, a confidant who regularly chats with police told me that they have people assigned to keep tabs on all the school kids. They know everyone. They know who you kick it with and everything you’re doing. So why were they pulling me over all the time? Why were flagrant, damn near flamboyant dealers getting slaps on the wrist? Still, I was lucky compared to many of my melanin-containing peers in the same situation.
Ultimately, that’s why I support 91. Too much time and too many tax dollars are being wasted. And for what? To exploit the law of averages so police can meet a quota?
But that still leaves us with the OLCC. How do we prevent part two of the mess across the Columbia River?
Well, we live in a capitalist country. If the OLCC enforces tone-deaf regulations and over-the-top prices, people won’t forget how they were getting sacks before (Just ask Washington). And as long as the demand is there, someone will be there to supply it.
When it comes down to it, that’s the real political game. Voting is one day. It’s the most passive political action you can take. The real game is everything that happens between elections. The lobbying. The drafting of bills and amending of current laws. Most importantly, it’s the everyday happenings on the ground.
Measure 91 is far from perfect and you have every right to be skeptical of the OLCC. But, this isn’t about them. We can stop spending tax dollars just to waste everyone’s time and, instead, open a lane for new business opportunities (I know more than a few people are looking for jobs around Oregon). Don’t let the rhetoric of election season fool you. We can make whatever we want of the situation. After all, has that not been the case during these decades of prohibition?