Editorial: Pot Boobies

I can’t take any more pot puns or lame attempts at a Tommy Chong reference.

All this talk about recreational marijuana seems to go in three directions—Cheech and Chong references, how municipalities are going to turn into Walter White (the fictional math teacher turned meth drug lord), or like a Nixon-era narc in a bad after school special.

It’s boring to me because we aren’t talking about the issue as adults. We have reverted into seven-year-olds–allowed to stay up past bedtime watching TV–giggling when the screen flashes a bare breast, “hehe, boobies!”

“What good does it do when children hear the “adults” talk about pot like it’s a cartoon activity? If we don’t talk about it seriously, they will never take it seriously.”

Yet, how we talk about marijuana is how we always engage in civil discourse. Every single serious issue we talk about is nothing more than children giggling over the kid who smelt it. Then, the same children shouting “ewwww” upon learning who dealt it. This is what the adult version of a high-stakes game of cooties feels like. Except the sensible adults just stop playing and go home.

From guns to healthcare, to the environment to immigration—the childish way we talk about these serious topics is boring. I’ve had “adult” conversations where someone gets called stupid and the checkers board gets kicked over.

You want to know who are the adults about this?

A few weeks ago, I went to listen one of my favorite live singers. While chatting before the music kicked off, someone started to pass [insert bad pun] around and turned to me and said, “You want some?”

First, before we go any further, this wasn’t a 1920s style reefer and opium soiree.

It just happened and I said, “Nah, I’m good.” The entire interchange was about as boring as applying for a bank loan.

The disservice we do by talking about pot like we are prepubescent children is to reduce the legalization of marijuana to nonsensical talking points and Cheetos references.

That’s why I’m bored when my competitors talk about this issue like they discovered their dad’s Playboy. From the implementation allowing the safe purchase of marijuana, to public safety, to an entire economy that will be generated because of it— all serious subjects. And yet we dumb down this new economy into headlines like the “Rocky Mountain High State.”

So let’s talk about this like adults.

What about the children?  I’m not going to use the argument they are getting high already so that makes underage pot smoking acceptable.

Underage marijuana use and underage drinking should be taken seriously as new science is showing ‘use’ can hamper brain development. I understand some of the tax will go to prevention and that’s a good start. The answer here, no one wants to admit, is good parenting mixed with a solid public education system in a community that takes underage prevention seriously. That’s not an easy answer, but it’s the right one.

What good does it do when children hear the “adults” talk about pot like it’s a cartoon activity? If we don’t talk about it seriously, they will never take it seriously.

The most serious issue for me is the new economy that will be generated by recreational marijuana. It’s staggering. For perspective, in 2012 real estate accounted for $17 billion of Colorado’s total economy. As of February 2014, just this year alone, the marijuana industry looks to generate $1 billion of the state’s economy. In two to three years, marijuana has the potential to be a major economic driver in the state.

Still think we should talk about pot like it’s a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction?

The drug Colorado voters have unleashed on Colorado is the tax base. With it, comes serious questions for counties and municipalities because even here, in just two months, Pueblo County alone, has generated $1 million in sales.

Do you allow for recreational marijuana and create the equivalent of a retail tax ATM? Or does the community not allow it and watch the tax dollars go to another community? Here’s the debate that intrigues me—the internal struggle that communities will have over their identity and their tax base.

“The region isn’t suffering because of pot. The region is suffering regardless of it. ”

What if this money is used for good and sales tax offsets budget deficits? Is that a bad thing because it was generated from a “sin” tax? This comes at the cost of having to embrace the industry and being uncomfortable with the shops, the people, the tourists and even the money.

Here’s where the adults show up to balance the true identity of a town against the allure of easy revenue.

If tomorrow Boulder became the pot capital of Colorado, would you think any different of the town? It would still have “Colorado’s University.” It would house rich liberals alongside rich conservatives. Boulder would still be home to a dizzying array of cultural options and outdoor activities. Boulder would still be Boulder just with pot.

So why isn’t Pueblo just Pueblo with pot?

This is why the juvenileness bores me. I’m not scared about recreational marijuana, I’m scared that whatever you think of it—even if you hate marijuana do you hate tax revenue more? We are desperate for that tax revenue. The region isn’t suffering because of pot. The region is suffering regardless of it. 

To the officials who unleashed this drug (tax again) on us all, and to those who will. Do something with it. Use the money and do something good with it. Don’t talk about it. Do it and show us you can do it.

If we can’t turn this free money into something good, then yes, we are no better than pot boobies. And that’s when we should laugh—at ourselves.

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