Listen Up! We might as well get some cash for their stash



Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

A boss called a young executive into his office and gave him an important task. A highly valued client was flying into town that evening for a crucial meeting late the following day. The young man’s job was to look after the V.I.P., catering to his every whim and to deliver him in a happy mood when it came time to attend the meeting. “And don’t blow it,” said the boss.

So, Junior worked hard all afternoon on an itinerary and then met the client at the airport later that evening and drove him to his hotel. “I have a great day planned for you tomorrow,” he said. “First, we are going to the best breakfast restaurant in town. They are famous all over the world for their bacon and eggs.”

“Nah,” said the client, “I don’t like bacon and eggs. Tried them once and didn’t like them.”

“Okay,” said Junior. There is a rare exhibit of Old Masters’ paintings at our art gallery. Tomorrow is the last day and they won’t be back on this side of the Atlantic for another 50 years.”

“No.” said the client, “I don’t want to go to an Art Gallery. Tried it once but didn’t like it.”

Getting a little frustrated, Junior said, “Well, the third game of the World Series is in town tomorrow afternoon. Of course, it is sold out, but I can get us dugout tickets.”

“Negative,” said the client, “No baseball. Tried it once and didn’t like it.“

Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Junior said. “What about Golf? We have some great golf courses around here.”

“No,” said the client, “I tried it once and didn’t like it. But,” he said with a smile on his face, “my son, he likes to golf.”

That is when Junior blew it. He looked the client straight in the face and said, “Your only child, I assume!”

I was reminded of this old chestnut because of a recent Doppler story about marijuana. I have often said that there are only two bad habits I don’t have. One is coffee and the other is tobacco. Actually though, there are three. I don’t do Weed either. I tried all of them once and didn’t like them! For the record however, I do have several children!

I am really not a fan of legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. I am old fashioned enough to believe it could be a stepping stone to harder drugs and I think there are going to be terrible problems regulating its use. But hey, it’s the law now, so we might as well get used to it.

The Doppler article referred to a decision by Huntsville Council to allow private recreational marijuana dispensaries in Huntsville. Not withstanding my personal feelings about the stuff, I think it is a good move. For one thing, the Province is setting a precedent by sharing its tax revenue from recreational cannabis with municipalities that opt in. It’s not much cash at first and, initially, it must be directed toward law enforcement, but like liquor and tobacco, marijuana will become a growing industry. This is especially so in an emerging populist society where, more and more, it is all about “me”.  As it grows, it will provide more revenue for cash-strapped municipalities to deal with really serious issues such as those outlined by Mayor Scott Aitchison, including low- income housing and health care.

In fact, why shouldn’t municipalities be able to share in all “sin” taxes for applicable products sold within their boundaries?  Liquor and tobacco taxes are a cash cow for the Province and the Feds. Yet municipalities, who provide much of the services for these products, including law enforcement, get none of it. Other levels of government in Canada can run deficits and we all know that they do a very good job at that! But municipalities cannot. To balance their books every year, they have comparatively limited sources of revenue, other than taking it directly from the pockets of local taxpayers.

Another reason for allowing cannabis dispensaries in town, is that we will know where they are. It is foolish to believe that municipalities that opt out will limit the use of marijuana in their area.  People who want marijuana will simply go where it is available and bring it back home. The issues of control and enforcement will still be there, in fact they will be more difficult and there would be no subsidy to cover the costs.

From my point of view, there is no point in getting our trousers in a knot over the sale of weed in Huntsville. We sell tobacco, alcohol and sex toys so the road to Hell is already pretty slippery. We might just as well make a buck out of it!

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  1. Hugh,
    Good observations. One is pretty much left with no options in one’s position on this which has been sold as inevitable and even desireable.
    I worry very much about the effect this is going to have on society. Medical pot is a seperate issue.
    There are enough difficulties facing people today without having to decide to avoid a feel-good remedy for life’s challenges. Facing life even with a clear head is not easy and facing the need to make clear headed decisions with a drug addled brain will not have desireable outcomes.
    I pitty those caught up in this mess.
    I lived and grew up in simpler times. After a 10 hour day at outdoor labour I was glad to enjoy a good meal and peaceful sleep. I had no need or want for recreational drugs. Somewhere in this lays a lesson. Take from it what you will.

  2. Hugh, as usual, you are right on. The whole marijuana debate, where and how to sell it, etc. Is a joke. It has been a part of our culture for such a long time. The only thing that the legalization has done is remove the stigma around discussing the use in a more or less intelligent fashion, removing the ridiculous criminal cloud that hovers over people that have been busted for possession. Plus, if Ford and company could only wrap their head around it, opening pot shops in every town that wants them could provide a huge chunk of change in taxes…just like liquor and cigarettes, but hopefully to the municipality, and not the provincial government.
    Oh, and here we are, two months after the legalization…and has anything changed downtown?

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