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How Legalized Pot Is "Carefully Regulated"

The title of this post is, of course, a joke.  Legalized pot was never intended to be carefully regulated, and the promises made to voters in the legalization campaigns were just blowin' smoke, as it were.

On Easter Sunday, the Capital of Legalization, Denver, hosted a huge throng of potheads who made the point.  As this CBS News story recounts (emphasis added):  

Tens of thousands gathered for a weekend of Colorado cannabis-themed festivals and entertainment, from a marijuana industry expo called the Cannabis Cup, to 4/20-themed concerts - acts include Snoop Dogg - to a massive festival in the shadow of the state capitol.

Although it is still against the law to publicly smoke marijuana in Colorado, police only reported 63 citations or arrests on Sunday, 47 for marijuana consumption. They said they had issued 21 citations on Saturday. All were for public consumption of marijuana. One person was arrested Saturday on suspicion of attempting to distribute the drug.

The pot holiday started as a defiant gathering of marijuana activists, but this year the event had an official city permit, was organized by an events management company and featured booths selling food, hemp lollipops and glass pipes.

There is zero chance the officials who granted the permit did not know this was going to turn into a very big and very public pot party.  They lied when they were going on and on to the voters about "careful regulation."  But they knew that  --  guess what  --  no one would hold them to account.  When you're a druggie, there's no problem checking the "truth optional" box.

Here's how concerned the tens of thousands of party-goers were that the "no public smoking" ban would get enforced:




Many people, including a healthy majority of my libertarian friends, think it's "good" that pot is enjoying more legal acceptance.

I do not agree with that view, but that's not the point of this entry. The point is (1) that legalizers should have come clean about "enforcement" of the supposed restrictions they told the voters would be in the law, and (2) that citizens should abide with the statute they asked the electorate to adopt, not just the parts of the statute they're happiest about. It's just not honest for the pro-legalization crowd to get what they want by promising limitations on public use, then blithely ignore that promise the moment the ink is dry on the bill.

The broader point is that legalization, as it expressed itself in this rally, seems to me to be rooted in a more worrisome attitude, which I would characterize as: "Take your rules and shove them." The problem is that that attitude will not stay confined to pot or even to drugs generally. It will seep elsewhere, in the law and in the culture, and that is going to be big, big trouble.

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