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Colorado pot smokers start 2014 on a high note

(AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico) (Matilde Campodonico/AP)

The media is gathering big time in Colorado, which on Wednesday is set to become the first state to set up a system for the legal cultivation and sale of marijuana.

Some folks may dismiss the Colorado action — which of course directly contradicts federal narcotics laws — as just a fluke generated by some Rocky Mountain potheads, backed by liberals and some prominent conservatives with a libertarian bent (including Grover Norquist) and perhaps people interested in raising money for education. (The new law in Colorado is expected to result in tens of million of dollars for schools.)

But it appears there’s some substantial interest out there in changing the federal law. Seems a bill to decriminalize marijuana, introduced in early 2013 by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.),has been in recent weeks the most-viewed legislation on the Web site.

“It is not something organized by marijuana supporters,” said Steve Fox of Marijuana Strategies (a consulting firm advising people on efforts to change the laws) “it appears to be spontaneous.”

The federal legislation hasn’t gone anywhere so far, but you can hear the Washington-centric arguments already about reducing dependence on foreign imports (from Mexico) and even becoming a net exporter  in a market. So it’s a trade issue? “Billions of dollars are wasted each year  in enforcing the prohibition and in not taxing it,” Fox said, a tax that could bring in tens of billions of dollars. So it’s a budget issue?

Hmm. Better take another look at that classic movie, “Reefer Madness.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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Al Kamen · December 20, 2013

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