April 13, 2016

Pot, banks, and equality

California is looking likely to join Washington state and Colorado as offering full legalization of marijuana, not just medical marijuana, after elections in November. And, this is going to have all sorts of fiscal and other fallout, some of which we probably can't totally foresee.

The expected change could double the value of marijuana sales, part of making pot big business there. I await further hand-wringing by the alleged guru on what's wrong with the War on Drugs, Mark Kleiman, following on previous hand-wringing.

An example of Kleiman’s brilliance:
The “commercial free speech” doctrine creates an absurd situation: both state governments and the federal government can constitutionally put people in prison for growing and selling cannabis, but they’re constitutionally barred from legalizing cannabis with any sort of marketing restriction designed to prevent problem use.

Huh? We regulate both alcohol and tobacco advertising as I speak. Yes, Kleiman cites a piece on how court attitudes may be changing, but, they haven't changed on issues like this. As for the issue of corporate free speech? Per the issue piece Kleiman links, country-of-origin meat labeling rules were tossed out, tis true, but not by any court. Congress acted, under WTO pressure. And, a piece which talks about the evils of corporate free speech — where I do think there are legitimate concerns — and doesn't even mention Buckley v Valeo, is missing at least part of the boat.

The only real insight Kleiman has is mentioned in one blog post of mine, that pot is probably more addictive than some think, and legalization is not a panacea. 

Related handwringing comes from blogging fellows of his, over state-by-state legalization, and the worries about two-tiered pot sales — WallyWorld level and fine wine level. Fuck him, and them; he's a Clintonista; the people he hangs out with are all neolib snoots, despite his protest to me on Twitter that his WOD editorial history would preclude him being Hillary's drug czar.

That includes Kleiman already, a full decade ago, peddling Lesser Of Two Evils bullshit.

Anyway, I digress.

As the NYT story at the top link notes, one big problem with marijuana legalization, especially when it becomes bigger and bigger business, is what to do with the profits.

Meanwhile, on issues of economic justice and other things, beyond breaking up banks, or looking at nationalization instead of breakups, and beyond overhauling the Federal Reserve, there's the issue of state banks.

I'm not talking about First State Bank vs First National Bank.

I'm talking about the Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the U.S., and kind of what the Federal Reserve should be. More on the bank from Mother Jones.

So, if pot in California becomes big biz? It's an opportunity for the next governor to create a Bank of California, and specify that it WILL accept marijuana profits as part of its deposits. And, then and thus, tell the federal government to Eff You on this issue.

If the Treasury, or FDIC, or whomever, pushes back? Create a state version of the FDIC, which North Dakota does with its bank. If the Fed says we won't accept your deposits? Contact the European Central Bank or something.

And, no, that's not a joke. (The Bank of ND has a depository window with the Fed; I'm not sure how much it's used.)


Meanwhile, one more rejoinder to Kleiman — using pricing to control usage will drive people back to illicit pot. That's even more when it's being used medicinally and insurance doesn't cover it.

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