One toke over the line

An editorial from The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Colorado last week embarked on its widely publicized experiment to allow the legal sale of marijuana.

Early Wednesday, pot smokers began to buy the first legally purchased marijuana without a prescription in the nation’s history.

A lot of smokers were buying.

Which is when one of the laws of economics began to emerge from the smoky haze, and the price of marijuana skyrocketed.

Retailers started the day selling weed at prices near $400 an ounce. Before the legalization of marijuana to anybody over 18, medicinal users in Colorado were paying around $250 an ounce.

As the day progressed, prices at some outlets went to as much as $560 an ounce.

“We are concerned about that,” mused Rachel Gillette, executive director of the state chapter of NORML, to NBC News. NORML seeks to make marijuana legal across the nation.

Colorado, surprisingly, lets the market decide the price of pot, and thus the law of supply and demand left a mark on buyers.

Then you add Colorado’s 10 percent special sales tax, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Gillette told NBC News without any apparent irony that she’d like to see the “high” taxes on Colorado pot reduced by state lawmakers.

In fact, Colorado expects to take in $578 million a year by taxing buyers at 10 percent and wholesalers at 15 percent.

While that may be the silver lining to the cloud of smoke, we predict it isn’t going to come without some unseen complications.

Take the Netherlands, for example. While drugs are technically illegal there, for years the laws have not been enforced for using marijuana and small amounts of psychedelic mushrooms at drug cafes.

Predictably, the Dutch found that creating a drug oasis was not a paradise for local residents or businesses. In fact, they began to institute some tough rules when they found themselves being overrun by “drug tourists” in border areas near Belgium and Germany.

Some people were buying the drugs in the Netherlands and taking them back to their home country to sell. Now the Dutch limit the purchase of such drugs to its residents who are issued a “membership card…”

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