Legalizing Pot:  The ATM

Nobody’s gonna look out for you, kid.

        – PracticalDad’s Father

My father’s comment to me as a teenager came back to me when I read that there was a move afoot in Congress to tax legalized marijuana after passage of the legalization referendums in Washington and Colorado.  After decades of demonization and imprisonment, the federal government is simply going to shift gears and tax it for the revenues.  My father’s message was that the system was built to look out for others, and in the 1970s, others meant minorities and women.  But the message is still pertinent even if heavily modified.  The system now is built to look out for itself and the people – regardless of race, religion or gender – exist to serve this equal-opportunity system.  This latest iteration is a message that I’ve passed along to my own kids on several occasions. 

This article prompted several things to occur to me as I was otherwise occupied today.

  • The article referenced that probable jurisdiction for the regulation of legalized marijuana would reside with the ATF (aka the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) although it could be renamed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms.  If it does reside there, a little honesty – like that’s going to happen – would be refreshing:  rename it the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana, aka The ATM. 
  • Successful politicians understand the importance of the care and feeding of their constituencies. A significant constituency in the law-and-order world is the private prisons lobby, which contributes millions to politicians; they strongly oppose legalization since a fair minority of the inmates are there for marijuana related offenses.  Legalization is a threat to their revenue stream and if the Congress is to successfully feed and care for the prison lobbyists, then something must replace the lost revenue stream.  If pot is legalized, what’s criminalized?
  • With all of the concern over terrorists – foreign and domestic – and homegrown whackos toting real hardware, then firearms might shift from the ATF to the Department of Homeland Security.  DHS has significantly upgraded their weaponry with thousands of real automatic weapons and millions of hollow-point bullets; they sorely need a reason to justify this.  Securing and maintaining control of the sheer number of weapons domestically requires the administrative heft of a larger DHS instead of the ATF.  If the government can work with the media to sufficiently scare the populace, then having one of the targeted guns could become a truly criminal offense.  Wait a minute…  Now there’s a win-win scenario.

It’s our responsibility as parents to look out for the well-being of our children.  Make sure that you don’t start believing that the government is your ever-dependable ally.



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