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.