Right on the heels of last November’s Washington state ballot initiative to kick the Liquor Board out of retail (among other things) comes one to legalize the sale of marijuana.
This is a wine blog, and will remain one – at least until someone perfects a technique for “spitting” smoke. But the two initiatives are linked in certain philosophical contexts. Looking at the first few months’ results of wide open liquor and wine sales, the dire predictions of the opposition regarding juvenile access, drunk drivers, etc. etc. have not come to pass. The higher prices should be no surprise to anyone – it’s just the state’s way of saying F--- You! to the voters. Don’t want to lose our position as the having the highest liquor taxes in the nation.
The pot bill debate is being framed along similar lines. But here there is one crucial difference, which is that the state should be in the business of retailing pot. Tax it to the sky, it won’t matter. Just stop making criminals out of anyone who grows, sells, or uses it. Stop funding cartels. And stop wasting public money on ridiculous anti-pot drug wars.
Case in point – taken directly from yesterday’s Walla Walla Union Bulletin front page. “Two Men Arrested At Marijuana Grow” read the headline on a story about a pair of Mexican nationals, caught camping near a grove of 1000 pot plants in eastern Columbia county.
According to the story, they were nabbed by something called 'The Cannabis Eradication Team' after an anonymous tip was phoned in. The two men arrested had been camping at the site for three months, getting food dropped off weekly. For the crime of watching plants grow and carrying a rifle (presumably to protect them from wild animals) they were thrown in the slammer with bond set at $200,000 each.
Right next to that story was another, headlined “Man Charged With Pointing Gun At Officer.” This told the tale of a mentally unstable war vet who threatened to kill two police officers, who just happened to be in his neighborhood for reasons unrelated to this individual. He pointed his handgun directly at the head of one police officer, and was later quoted as saying “That sure felt good. I had the drop on the both of them.”
For this crime, he was offered bail of $25,000. Needless to say, he’s back out on the street.
Now I ask you, is it more worrisome that a mentally unstable man has guns and no compunctions about shooting police, or that a couple of Mexicans are camped out watching pot plants grow? Where should our public resources be directed? Who needs to be incarcerated? And who the hell is paying for ‘The Cannabis Eradication Team’?!
Meanwhile, in other sin-related news, here is an update on Total Wine’s plans for more stores in Washington.
Earlier this summer Total Wine & More opened its first Washington state location in Bellevue. Now just two months after achieving national record sales numbers in the Evergreen State, the largest independent retailer of fine wine, spirits and beer announced it will officially open its next location just across from the Southcenter Mall on Thursday, September 20th. Future Washington state openings will include stores in Spokane (next in line), Alderwood, Federal Way, Olympia, Silverdale and Vancouver.
The Southcenter location will feature more than 8000 wines, 3000 spirits and 2500 beers. More than 1450 Washington wines, 55 Washington and Oregon distilled spirits and 540 Pacific Northwest beers will be in the mix.
I say bravo. These guys are off to a great start.
Read the full press release here.