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The Biblical Case for Pot Legalization?

• August 09, 2012 • 12:31 PM

There are lots of arguments for legalizing marijuana. Like, um, for instance, this one:

[Cannabis prohibition] unnecessarily proscribe[s] consumption of a ‘herb bearing seed’ given to humanity in Genesis 1:29, thereby violating their unqualified religious rights under Article 1, Section 3 and their Natural Rights under Article 1, Section 33 of the Oregon Constitution.”

That’s from the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, otherwise known as Measure 80 on this November’s ballot in the Beaver State. The marijuana legalization movement has long drawn from a loose coalition between libertarians and left-leaning folk. So maybe this is an attempt to broaden that appeal to include Biblical fundamentalists?

In any event, the church/state issue here is an amusing sideline; the real concern with Measure 80 is that it doesn’t adequately separate the industry from its regulators. Under the structure set up by the proposed law, the Oregon Cannabis Commission would have five of its seven members elected by marijuana growers and processors licensed by the state. That would seem to invite a very fast and neat case of regulatory capture, where you would expect to see the biggest incumbents in the industry using the licensing powers of the regulatory body to keep new entrants out of the biz–among other problems.

(h/t to Mark Kleiman at Reality-Based Community, who says that Colorado and Washington’s November pot legalization initiatives are far more serious, and whose recent book on marijuana legalization is one I hear very, very good things about; I may blog about it once I dig my copy out of boxes from a recent move.)

John Gravois
John Gravois is Pacific Standard's deputy editor.

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