Regulate alcohol like marijuana?

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Wikimedia Commons/Zivya

The official name of Amendment 64, the ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, was the “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol”.

Amendment 64 was passed in 2012 with 55 percent of the vote (66 percent in Boulder County), and legal marijuana became a reality in Colorado on January 1, 2014. But the regulatory regime that has been applied to marijuana is far more severe than anything alcohol has been subjected to.

If there’s any doubt on this point, try this thought experiment: Think what obtaining booze would be like if instead of marijuana being regulated like alcohol, alcohol were regulated like marijuana.

The booze-buying experience would be something like this:
A visit to a liquor store would begin with a clerk asking to see your ID, which isn’t too different from what happens today, but the ID would be subjected to much closer scrutiny than the check it receives today.

If you’re wearing sun-glasses, chances are you will be asked to take them off so that the clerk can compare your photo with your face.

Your license may also be swiped through some sort of a scanner, which presumably will check it against a state database.

Instead of going directly into the store and choosing among thousands of kinds of beer, wine and distilled spirits displayed on supermarket-style shelves, you would be asked to take a seat in a waiting room until a booze tender in a separate room, where the alcoholic beverages were actually sold, was available to wait on you. The experience would be more like waiting to see a doctor than making a beer run.

When a booze tender became available and you were allowed to enter the holy of holies where the alcoholic beverages were kept, the first thing your personal booze tender would do is check your ID a second time.

The shopping experience would not be like going into a store and grabbing a bottle of scotch off a shelf or a couple of six-packs out of a cooler. The booze tender would be behind a counter and most of the merchandise would be behind the booze tender. In some stores the booze tender would bottle your purchase from a store barrel or vat instead of selling you pre-bottled beverages.

Instead of being able to choose among thousands of beers, wines and liquors, your selection would be limited to a few dozen choices.

There would be a strict limit on the amount of booze you could buy in a single trip to the store — maybe a couple of six-packs of beer or a bottle of scotch. There would be a legal limit on how much booze you could possess at any one time.

You would not be able to put your purchase on your credit card — booze selling would be a cash only business, although some stores would take debit cards. Most stores would have an ATM machine available so you could get the cash to make your purchase.

Your beer would come in a child-proof container.
Alcohol consumers wouldn’t put up with this sort of over-regulation for a nano-second. Yet alcohol demonstrably causes much more violence and anti-social behavior than marijuana does.

Marijuana consumers and sellers put up with it because that was what it took to overcome 70 years of reefer-madness lying by pot prohibitionists inside and outside of the government.

Yet there is no question that the result of marijuana’s over-regulation is that a visit to a marijuana dispensary is only slightly more exciting than a visit to a drug store.

Recently an attempt to open a marijuana dispensary in Niwot (which was ultimately approved) turned into a NIMBY cause celeb, with some opponents acting as though the Hell’s Angels were trying to open a biker bar in their neighborhood. It makes me wonder how many of those opposing the dispensary had ever been inside one.

  • Franklin

    You’re using logic here. That will only antagonize the Republicans who see logic as witchcraft. Almost as bad a math and science. Number one red objection to anything. ”Well that’s different.”

    • Kathleen Chippi

      The Dems led the over-regulation of medicinal cannabis when they passed unconstitutional over-regulatory HB10-1284–then they plugged A64 into their crappy MMJ regulation. Romer and the new to the state lobbyists from the cannabis monopoly.

      • Franklin

        Yes Kath. The two main parties are equally not representing the people. But the majority of the prohibition problem still comes from Republicans. Not all, just most.

        • Kathleen Chippi

          PLEASE! since the start 1937 Reefer Madness and FDR- laws changed/passed by Dems. The propaganda comes from the GOP–and they make it look like one party is better then the other.

          • Franklin

            You’re talking about a tax, not a criminal war. Marijuana wasn’t seriously criminalized until Nixon and the CSA. Nixon didn’t do it alone as there were plenty of Democrats in congress. In the past both parties were equally wrong on the drug war.

            But reform has come in states where Democrats lead. And every Red president since Nixon has been a drug hawk. At the end of Bush 2 he had commercials running associating marijuana with terrorism. That is the direction we were going.

            Obama might be a crappy president but he hasn’t challenged state’s rights. Christie has promised to.

            The wort president for criminal penalties and funding the propaganda were Nixon and Reagan with no one else even close. Both for the same reason. As illiteracy is slowly being solved and Americans are raising the standard for education you get fewer Republicans. The only way to win is to take away the voting rights of 1 out of 4 black men of voting age. Bush Jr, would not have been president without all those people losing their voting rights.

            Today, the party of red is the enemy of marijuana and anyone who tolerates the plant.

  • michael_ellis

    Good article. Makes the point effectively with humor. Here’s hoping it goes viral in the comment sections of other articles about cannabis legalization.

  • This article should wake some people up, hope it does that and more…

    • Stupid Stoners BEGGED for the Fist of Government Regulation, and BEGGED for Massive Taxes on their precious pot, when they wrote, promoted and voted for that worthless piece of crap Amendment 64.

      Stupid Stoners are as Stupid Stoners do.

  • FradyCat5

    “ATM machine” lol 😉

  • CajunAggie

    Great article. While it was an awesome experience being able to legally purchase some of the fine plant material on display, it was far fro anything like a visit to the liquor store. And the whole time that I’m in Colorado, there were wine and brewery events happening that allowed public consumption of alcohol. I quietly vaped, but would rather have attended an outdoor cannabis event. And cannabis gets no credit for the huge increase in tourism that has developed since legalization. But ads for alcohol are everywhere. SMH

  • Harlan Peaslee

    Actually marijuana does greater effect and causes no harm. I had a useful consultation at 420evaluationsonline.

  • Ruben Hernandez
  • Kathleen Chippi

    What did MPP/DPA/sensible(?)/SAFER’s “legalize like alcohol”/”regulate like alcohol”/A64 turn into in CO? Let’s see:

    Alcohol regulation in Colorado: 14,400 plus liquor licenses are issued/regulated yearly by 12 full time employee’s on a 1.2 million dollar budget. (So about $83 dollars to yearly regulate and license each liquor license.)

    To prevent monopolies when alcohol prohibition ended, everyone is limited to 1 liquor license-for the most part, you either manufacture or you retail at one location.

    No chains and no multiple ownership or business licensure under different business names.

    There are dozens of different kinds of liquor licenses that cost from $3.50 cents (art show tasting) to a maximum of $1,250 to manufacture (like COORS).

    Liquor licenses allow for consumption on premise and in view of the general public, including outside patios, concerts, events and festivals.

    There is no law that requires a photo ID for an alcohol purchase. It is the discretion of the seller.

    There is no law that limits the amount of alcohol purchased.

    There is no government tracking or storage of alcohol sales to retail customers in the state criminal database or any government database.

    There is no government tracking or storage of wholesale alcohol purchases by/from businesses.

    No RFID chips required on plants used to make alcohol or attached to the alcohol product itself.

    Any felon can apply and own a liquor license.

    If you give/sell alcohol to a minor it’s always a misdemeanor and a $250 fine that doubles every time you do it and remains a misdemeanor.

    No camera’s or security requirements required.

    Alcohol is taxed at 1.9%.

    And alcohol, even a onetime use, can KILL and costs society more than any other substance (death, accidents, violence, health care etc.)

    Cannabis regulation in Colorado: 750 cannabis licenses are issued/regulated yearly by 60 full time pot cops and the Governor said they needed a 50-80 million budget. (So $66,666 to $106,000 to yearly regulate and license each cannabis license).

    (The two state audits on cannabis earned the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and the health dept. (CDPHE) solid F’s, as in both failed miserably. Millions were unaccounted for, there was no enforcement, patients were over-charged more than 13 million and the confidential registry was/is breached with the CBI criminal database and unknown number of NSA independent contractors.)

    People can buy as many cannabis business licenses as they can afford, which has already created the monopoly….

    There are 3 licenses to pick from and they start at $1,250 but to abide by all the 1,000 plus pages of NEW rules (prohibitions) you need at least $500,000 and probably to own your own building as any available zoning was ‘filled’ back in 2010 when the MMJ ‘industry’ bought their monopoly from the general assembly (all the people who moved here after they helped collapse real-estate and wall-street nationwide) to show CO how to “professionally” sell pot.

    Consumption on a licensed premise (even by employees) is illegal and so is smoking in view of the public. Smoking tickets are $160 on the low end and can cost up to $360.

    A photo ID is required for purchase, no matter if you have grey hair.

    Your ID is scanned and stored in the CBI Criminal database (along with your purchases) and is shared with the National Criminal Information Computer (NCIC).

    There is a one ounce limit to purchasers.

    The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is tracking and storing all sales to retail customers in the state criminal database.

    The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is tracking and storing wholesale cannabis purchases by/from businesses.

    RFID chips are required on ALL plants and product. They call it “seed to sale” tracking.

    Camera’s and security requirements required.

    Pot felons are banned from participating, excluding some of the best growers and freedom fighters—but all other felons like murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and other drug (meth, heroin, crack etc.) are welcome…(the new ‘industry’ people who bought the language have awesome friends they couldn’t exclude).

    If you give cannabis to a minor (under 21, so college students included) it is now a class 1 felony with a 8 year mandatory minimum and a fine up to 1 million.

    If you have a state license to sell and you sell to a minor, you can be fined $7,500-$20,000 for your first offense.

    Cannabis is taxed at 10-45% dependent on where you live.

    And cannabis has no known lethal dose in over 8,000 recorded years of human use. Cannabis heals more ailments than any other substance on the earth and is the safest. If it were truly legal it would save society money, not cost it, like alcohol….

    I am so sick of hearing “regulate like alcohol” pushed by MPP/DPA/NCIA/ASA/Soros/NORML and now (some supposedly) progressives in the legislature. Cannabis has NOTHING IN COMMON WITH ALCOHOL. Regulation is clearly not even close in CO. The only regulation that is “like alcohol” is the age 21, which protects few college students, the people most likely to be ‘busted’ for the safest therapeutic substance known to man and the people who can have their entire lives ruined over possession.

    Science and 10,000 plus years of human use (research) can no longer be ignored. Until the tree of life is available for all people for all uses and a business option is available to anyone with comparable costs to any other business license and retail is taxed equal to all other herbs/vegetables or not at all, the fight in the longest war in the history of the United States drags on.

    Never forget who made cannabis illegal via LIES, PREJUDICE and GREED in 1937 and re-enforced it in 1970: 1.Big Government 2.Big Business and 3.Mass Media. Why would we let the perpetrators of unspeakable crimes/harm on tens of millions of families now control or profit as we the people heal the nations they harmed? Like in 1937 we have big business paying big government for more language that keeps most people in harm’s way….and the mass media ignores the obvious questions they should be asking the government and misinforms/misguides the public.

    Colorado is regulating cannabis, a non-toxic healing plant much more strictly than alcohol (and even more strictly then plutonium) as the longest war in the history of the US continues. 1937 Reefer Madness is now rebranded/marketed as “Legalization”, “Legalization like Alcohol” and “Adult Use”.

  • Martin Koenigsberg

    I gave testimony at that Niwot hearing. The “anti” residents acted like Colfax would break out in Niwot. The clientele is going to totally Boulder people…. like all the other stores…

  • b4integrity

    Consider — for over a century now:
    tobacco (nicotine), a schedule I controlled substance by definition in the CSA, a poisonous insecticide, more addicting than heroin, a hard drug whose use accounts for more drug deaths, (~480,320/yr in US), than the summation of drug deaths from the use of all other drugs, including alcohol, combined; and alcohol (ethanol), a schedule II controlled substance by definition in the CSA, a natural hard drug that is physically-addicting and mood-altering, a hard drug that kills brain cells, the second most deadly drug there is after tobacco (~88,000 annual drug deaths);
    — that both of these hard drugs are exempt by name from virtually every drug law (OTC, Rx, CSA).

    On the other hand, cannabis, a natural beneficial medicinal herb, is wrongly, falsely, and unconstitutionally (remember our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?) misclassified in the CSA as a schedule I controlled substance (cannabis should not be classified as a controlled substance at all, maybe a schedule V like codeine cough syrup) because it allegedly has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” when cannabis was used medically prior to 1937 (Elixir of Cannabis, U.S.P. mfg’d by Parke, Davis and Co.) and has a multitude of medical uses today. The use of cannabis accounts for zero (0) annual drug deaths.

    Given these facts, are:
    the politicians (federal and state Representatives & Senators) who exempt the poisonous insecticide, nicotine, which is a schedule I controlled substance by definition, and the toxic cellular poison, alcohol, which is a schedule II controlled substance by definition, from every drug law; and the
    police,
    DEA agents,
    prosecutors,
    Governors,
    Presidents,
    Attorneys General,
    judges, and
    Supreme Court justices,
    who support the unconstitutional exemption of tobacco and alcohol from every drug law, and, who, at the same time support and enforce the CSA’s drug prohibition of cannabis;
    — are all these people either :
    1) criminally insane psychopaths who do not know the difference between right and wrong; or
    2) evil hypocritical immoral prejudiced tyrannical bigots who consciously (or unconsciously) choose to favor their own harmful drugs of choice, tobacco and alcohol, while demonizing cannabis, a beneficial medicinal herb?

  • b4integrity

    Compare the text of Amendment 64 to the text of the 1992 Relegalization of Cannabis Hemp initiative that Paul Danish, myself, and others wrote and promoted. Lacking enough almighty FRNs, we were not able to get enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

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  • i dont agree..wow.. Regulate alcohol like marijuana