Legalize, Regulate Marijuana Like Coffee

Legalize, Regulate Marijuana Like Coffee

The Coffee Paradigm for Marijuana Regulation

Once reefer madness has subsided, and Prohibition has collapsed like the Berlin Wall, leaving people scratching their heads and wondering how things had ever gotten so insane…. What then? How will marijuana be treated in the future?

Some may hope for no restrictions at all. But the real world will never attain that ideal. So, what level of compromise can society live with?

I would like to propose coffee as a model for marijuana’s regulatory scheme.

Coffee is psychoactive and addictive. That doesn’t sit well with many people. Yet there is no serious stigma for those who use it.

Religions, such as Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists, oppose coffee on moral grounds, as do many “New Age” spiritualists, and even, surprisingly, Rastafarians. While they are completely free to preach against it, they aren’t able to use force and violence against those who disagree with their beliefs, as is the case when you make something a matter of criminal law.

Coffee is highly regulated by the government in dozens of areas, from purity, packaging, and labeling, all the way to emissions from roastery machines. Thousands of pages of regulation. Excessive perhaps, but not so onerous that people have any trouble obtaining the substance.

There are no inordinate licensing burden required to sell it, beyond the usual retail business laws.

It grows well indoors in New England. It is a nice ornamental plant, as is marijuana. I can grow coffee in my home, without fear that it will lead to masked thugs with guns breaking down my door, whether gangsters or police.

Coffee is taxed — sales tax, meal tax, import tariffs, etc. The government gets its cut, and coffee is not as inexpensive as it would be otherwise, yet it is not unaffordable for the average person.

Prohibitionist fanatics are not out of the picture entirely. Consider the way they declared coffee extract drinks (Four Loco, etc.) a “crisis de jour” and got the state attorneys general and the FDA into the act.

Yet, overall, I’d take the way coffee is treated today, over the way marijuana has been handled for the past 76 years.

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  • Steven_Epstein

    Well described regulation of an agricultural commodity with psychotropic properties. Although here in Massachusetts there is no sales tax on coffee beans, whole or ground, when I buy them at the store, only the meals tax, when I buy it prepared at a coffee shop.
    Also a quick check of US International Trade Commission http://dataweb.usitc.gov/ finds coffee is not subject to tariff/duty.

    • Mike

      Is the lack of a tax on coffee an artifact of that Tea Party Movement? Umm, the one back in the 1750s is the one I mean. Or is that one of those great myths of US history? I vaguely recall hearing that was why, but would like to be right if I use it as a fact.

      And I just might. This is a great way to bring what could be a crazy escalating argument with a prohibitionist over a cup of coffee under control. Good article.

      • Brian Kelly

        lol

  • The Author

    Without putting too much into this, it is true whole beans don’t currently have a tariff when entering most of the United States (outside of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam?, etc.) Things like this vary from time to time and place to place. I’d be really surprised if there was any consistency here since the American Revolution. That’s over two centuries of government policy under different parties and administrations, and under different economic conditions and economic schools of thought. I’m not planning on researching it :) There is also no bean tax in Massachusetts. Though I believe sales tax would apply, even in a community without a separate meals tax, if you bought a cup of coffee (a prepared food) in the deli section of a supermarket. But the main point here, regardless of specifics, is that the tax level is not excessive, as has been the case with many of the marijuana proposals around the country.

  • CoreyDonahue

    ¨Some may hope for no restrictions at all. But the real world will never attain that ideal. So, what level of compromise can society live with?¨

    .If, ¨The government gets its cut…I can grow coffee in my home, without fear that it will lead to masked thugs with guns breaking down my door, whether gangsters or police.¨

    Although this is a step closer to cannabis freedom and better then the rgulate it like a alcohol it still begs the question,

    ¨Do you live in a failed socity if you need a government to place regulations on your interactions with one of the safest plants known to man?¨

    • JWD77

      When those restrictions include “don’t say it’s one thing when it’s really something else… like poison”, no, I don’t think we live in a failed society. Government regulations are fantastic, to ensure that companies don’t sell us poison… those regulations may not be perfect, but at least I know my beef isn’t completely made out of rat droppings, and I’m happy for that. I absolutely want government regulations that would prevent someone from selling oregano as marijuana.

      • joe

        To ensure companies don’t sell poison to us? CIGARETTES ARE POISON, SOLD TO US, CONDONED AND TAXED BY THE GOVERNMENT!

        • JWD77

          Yeah… but they’re poison, sold as poison. Not poison, sold as “apples” or “beef”. There’s a difference.

    • Brian Kelly

      Nice. Good point.

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  • Melinda Robinson

    Actually, marijuana is considered to be an intoxicant like alcohol, and thus far, any regulations we’ve seen have been akin to those imposed upon alcohol sellers/users. I fear that legalizing cannabis may lead to the same societal stigma that alcohol users face, right down to the alcoholism end of things. It’s okay to use it TO A DEGREE… but past that, the user is considered sick, looked down upon, unfit for work, and in need of rehab. It’s one thing to come home after a long, harrowing day at work and unwind with a couple of joints, but what of people who unwind with a 6-pack every night, or a bottle of Jack? WE see the difference, but does/will society? Do you see where I’m going with this?

    My husband thinks the only remedy for this is to do what many states have already done, and that is legalize it for medicinal use only. Almost everyone of age has some reason they could get medical marijuana — a bad knee, anxiety, back problems, that chronic and annoying pain in your shoulder, arthritis, insomnia, depression, etc. All the people I know who use cannabis would qualify for medical marijuana for one reason or another, including cancer, chronic pain, autism, and fibromyalgia. This is not a shock since many, if not most, smokers do self medicate.

    What do you think?