The marijuana legalization movement has swelled into such a monstrous figure as of late, attracting the support of lawmakers, governors and even Democratic presidential candidates, that we sometimes find ourselves a bit taken back when one of these people starts spewing reefer madness.
We often forget that there was once a day when popular opinion, especially among those who make our laws, was that the legalization or even the acceptance of marijuana would lead to such a crippling of the nation that we’d all inevitably end up in the hottest hell once the great alien in the sky beared down. The cannabis plant was evil, or so they said, the root to a new world Babylonia, a dark society where our mothers and sisters would be pimped out on the streets for nickel bags while drug-addled fathers and sons watched every despicable moment in a pool of junkie filth.
But times have changed since the days when marijuana was akin to Revelations, and now most of America is in favor of legalization. The population discovered over the decades that all of the white bread horror tales coming from the people running this country with concern to marijuana was just a load of bull. Now, around 65% of the nation supports the idea of marijuana being legalized like alcohol and tobacco. So, imagine our surprise to learn that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is using tired spiels to convince the voters that legal weed isn’t worth it.
Just last week Bevin did an interview with the radio station WKDZ out of Cadiz to discuss some of the issues the state is facing. It was there that the Republican went on a full-blown tirade about how he doesn’t support marijuana legalization because he believes it will lead to an uprising in homelessness, increased emergency room visits and more disease. Not only does he think that legal weed isn’t a viable option for the Bluegrass State, but he also doesn’t see it as the solution to paying down the state’s $60 billion pension debt.
“Look at the homelessness, look at the increases in their emergency rooms, look at the problems they have with law enforcement of bordering states,” Bevin said of Colorado’s recreational marijuana law. “Look at the amount of disease and things that have spiked up as a result of people who are coming for the fact that they can smoke pot legally. Does that mean everybody who’s involved in that has these problems? No. But many of them do. So we have negative things to counter as well.”
Bevin’s comments on legal marijuana and homelessness are interesting considering that Donald Burnes, founder of the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness at the University of Denver, said back in 2017 that homelessness has not increased in Colorado as a result of legalization. It’s not that homeless people aren’t moving to the state because there is
“The numbers of (homeless) people from out of state has remained relatively constant… even decreasing in 2016 from 2012,” Burnes said.
It is worth mentioning that Bevin never clarified what disease would spread as a result of legal marijuana.
When it comes to using a taxed and regulated cannabis market to trim the deficit in the pension system, Bevin didn’t act like he’s ever entertained that as an option. He just doesn’t believe Kentuckians can smoke enough weed to really make it count.
“Everybody in Kentucky would need to smoke pot for the next 600 years,” he said. “And no one is allowed to retire in the next 600 years or allowed to incur any more interest or any more liability, and then in 600 years of pot smoking, if we did indeed allocate 100% of the money, then we would now have enough money to fund what we owe today in 2019.
“It’s not a serious solution,” he added. “It’s not even a solution at all. It’s a ridiculous proposal.”
Indeed, trying to whittle down the state’s pension liability with legal marijuana alone is a stretch. So far, no Kentucky lawmaker has come out and said that marijuana would help recoup the whole wad. However, most of those in favor of legalization think the extra source of income wouldn’t hurt. Some predict Kentucky could see $100 million in annual marijuana tax revenue from legalization. Not to mention the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and a substantial boost to local and state economies. But when taking into account the societal tax that it would need to keep the homeless from taking over, as well as filling hospital ER’s with pot overdose victims and controlling the outbreak of disease, the state would hardly benefit at all from a pot tax.
“If we all wanted to gamble and smoke pot at the same time, it would still be 200 years, just to earn the money we already owe today,” he told the radio station. “These are not serious solutions.”
Well, Bevin went from it taking 600 years to fix the pension problem with a legal marijuana system to 200 years. We guess that’s progress. Although you’ll have to forgive us for not trusting his math. Any revenue toward a debt is better than nothing. Furthermore, it does appear that marijuana legalization could be part of the long term solution. Depending on tax allocations, it seems reasonable that the pension debt could be lessened substantially, if not paid off, within the next decade.
Bevin isn’t completely opposed to marijuana legalization. In February, he said that he would support legislation designed to create a statewide medical marijuana program. He told the attendees of a community forum that he witnessed first-hand how medicinal cannabis helped his teenage nephew during “a very hard battle with cancer.”
But Bevin, who thinks lawmakers should explore weed as an alternative to opioids, also said his support of such a bill would be contingent on how it was written.
Kentucky’s patients “should have the ability to use a natural drug that exists to provide relief… when it is needed, where it can be prescribed and regulated as we would other such drugs,” he said.
At the time, Bevin maintained that the state should not even consider “trying to financially capitalize on the medical needs of anyone in our population.” So as far as recreational use is concerned, it is off the table. “There’s not a chance that I would sign a legalization of recreational marijuana,” he said.
This ultra-conservative attitude has not helped his political career. A recent poll shows that Bevin is the “most unpopular governor” in America. He could end up losing to Democratic gubernatorial challenger Andy Beshear later this year, which might be better for the marijuana movement starting in 2020. Beshear, who serves as the state’s Attorney General, said earlier this year that “no one who is caught simply possessing marijuana should ever go to jail, or should ever go to prison.”
Beshear supports the legalization of medical marijuana.
TELL US, does your state have legal cannabis?