The American Prospect:Jesse Lenz

It’s a peculiar hypothetical, but how illuminating it would be to have a close friend come out of a coma that he’d been in since 2004 … November 2014 rolls around, and he awakes to a country he barely recognizes.

There’s a confusingly unpopular but otherwise impressive black man in the White House, more than half the states in the country have legalized gay marriage and for a capper(?) — two states have already legalized and taxed weed, and Holy Willie Nelson, more states have medical and recreational marijuana in mind and on the midterm ballot.

That news almost makes up for the disturbing saga involving Fvx Nation, a more obnoxious Rush Limpbaugh and the stupefying Tea Party obscenities. (Optimally he’d have sampled the Vermont medicinal prior to those nausea-inducing historical revelations.) The poor dude went down in ’04 thinking Bush was the worst we’d survive.

Vermont is so on the recreational brink. Hey, it’s the Green Mountain state and we have about the highest hippie per capita numbers outside Oregon or the city of Berkeley.

Rolled up to the UVM campus a couple years ago to see President Obama speak, a dear friend and blogger from Indiana in tow, and one of the dorms had a bed-sheet hanging out of the window hawking ‘Bong Hits for Obama, 10$$’. No kidding, they were donating half the stash cash to the campaign.


It was a coup for the marijuana legalization crowd up here when the August 2014 gubernatorial primaries witnessed every Regressive Right Republican contender agree with present Gov. Peter Shumlin on recreational pot prohibition in public debates — they all committed to making it legal, taxable and an income booster for the state and its tourist industry.

Massive bonus to even putting pot on the ballot? It gets those elusive youths to the polls.

Our sister state in the progressive idyl category is Oregon, and a piece over at Alternet caught the eye earlier. Their ‘program’, named Measure 91, will be on the ballot in 13 days, and it’s worth a look at if you want to see some superb planning with a social conscience component that should impress the hemp socks off interested observers.

This is their laudable tax revenue budget breakdown:

Fifteen percent of tax revenues go to state police, 10 percent to city police, 10 percent to county law enforcement, 40 percent to education (via the state’s Common School Fund), and 25 percent to agencies dealing with mental health and substance abuse.

Oregon does have a seemingly ideal climate for the program, a live and let live mentality prevails (vastly easier to embrace than the Live Free or Die credo), and it is one of those products and crops that have the potential to create links between rural and urban profit paths and promising cultural crossover.

Studies are taking place right and left in most states thinking of legalizing recreational, the Reagan War on Drugs and lingering Reefer Madness tomfoolery require the palliative crutch of ‘expert opinions’ before succumbing to the inevitable.

Putting a full quarter of future (gangbuster) revenue into the needy areas of addiction treatment and mental health is one of the factors that has folks hopeful that it will be a ‘poster child’ for harmonious legalization and prosperity. Many states already use the lottery system to supplement education costs, and the tax potential for legalized pot and hemp will easily surpass those monies for needy state coffers.

The unfolding vista for jobs, agriculture growth and small business opportunity is enormous, and so many regions are retooling their income and employment status quo. One of the most compelling arguments is the obvious penal system reform, opening beds for the genuine criminals and rehabbing the addicts instead of locking them up.


A less discussed element, and one most ignoramus conservatives dismiss as hippie-Pinko-Commie-riff raff nonsense, is the likely lessening of the tragically high rates of serious American addiction to prescription drugs, street heroin and good ole’ alcohol (pipelines to prison, illness and death) is being discussed in states who have already welcomed medical dispensaries and have a realistic view of the future.

24/7 Wall St. has a fascinating update on which states are going green next, some will surprise but happily Vermont made the list. As did Massachusetts, Maryland and Alaska.