Monday, March 21, 2016

Downer: State house hack inveighs against the devil's weed

If things weren't bad enough on a cold, gray slushy Monday morning, here's what greeted Boston Globe readers this morning on A1:

Talk about a buzz kill.  According to the Globe, a state Senator named Jason M. Lewis spent a year and talked to “50-plus” experts (although it's not clear if that means 51 experts or three old coots).   Now he's put out a report arguing that recreational use of the stuff should remain illegal in the Commonwealth.

OK, why?

Well, one reason is:
[T]he state doesn’t have a clear metric or clear protocols for when someone is too impaired by marijuana to drive safely, he said. There is no marijuana equivalent to the legal prohibition of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. That should change before legalization, to ensure police have the tools to keep the public safe, Lewis posited.
He posited, did he?  In response, may we dare to asseverate that if this is an issue, shouldn't it be dealt with now?  Is it the case that no one is being accused of driving under the influence of muggles today?  If not, why not?  If there aren't any standards cabining the the discretion of police to bust driving dopers, on what basis are they doing it?  We have a crazy idea, cough, Ferguson, cough, LAPD, cough, but we'll leave that to another day.

But there's more.  According to Senator Lewis, you can't trust the marijuana industry to police itself because “the incentives of the US economic system don’t work when it comes to a recreational marijuana industry. . . .‘The fiduciary responsibility for a for-profit company is to generate as much profit as possible for a company’s shareholders, whether that’s a private company, for the owners, or whether it’s a public company,’ Lewis said.”

And how does he come to this revelation?  According to the Globe, Lewis is a “onetime McKinsey & Co. consultant.”  OK, he would know.

His view on the marijuana industry doesn't distinguish it from the alcohol, insurance, drug, automobile, or gambling industries, none of whose products and services Senator Lewis seeks to outlaw.  Of course, it would be up to the Legislature to prescribe the fiduciary standards that any legal marijuana industry would have to meet.

So there the matter rests,  until someone reveals that Sen. Lewis is a principal in a hydroponic grow-light business or in fact the voters make up their own mind on the marijuana ballot initiative in November.

You would think that the Great and General Court would embrace legal marijuana.  It could generate lots of tax revenue to dump into underfunded public pension schemes.  It would undoubtedly produce lots of well-paid no-heavy-lifting lobbying jobs for ex-Legislators or even better no-work retainer agreements for lawyer-Solons.  Most important, we would posit, a totally-wasted electorate might be too busy staring at the Golden Dome to notice the depredations going on underneath.

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