Alibi V.25 No.26 • June 30-July 6, 2016 

Freedom

Worst in Show

Legalize it, you dopes

Worst In Show
Rob M
[click to enlarge]

Spoiler Alert: New Mexico is going down like the Hindenburg on Ambien. The old-school Burqueños tell me that everyone they went to high school with has moved on or died. I've been to more going-away parties in the last year than in my whole life. And the place has gone to crap for those of us still here. Our funds are shrinking, our kids are poor and dumb, and our people are moving away.

It's not easy to admit, but New Mexico is on the fast track to becoming Nowheresville. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north, Colorado, are experiencing huge tax revenues, improved schools and a raging real estate market. All because of that silly decision two years ago to legalize cannabis.

Those aren't the only improvements, either. The latest statistics from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation say that overall crime was down 1% in 2014. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, marijuana-abuse in teens is below the national average and lower than it was before legalization. And a public that's not worried about going to jail over a bag of dope tends to have a better opinion about the police in their community.

But even if you're one of those scaly bastards (politicians) who doesn't care at all about the societal benefits of cannabis, and would rather count your money all day while you prop your feet up on the arched back of some poor jerk from the wrong side of the tracks—get this: There are way more important numbers to consider here. I'm talking cash, baby.

New Mexico is in the middle of a revenue crisis. State revenue collections are 11 percent less for the current fiscal year than they were at this time last year. A massive drop in oil and gas prices caused much of the damage, and we're seeing budget cuts to state programs as a result. And just recently, the USDA accused the state of renewing SNAP food benefits for people who were no longer qualified, meaning we might owe the federal government millions in back-pay. The bottom line: We need money.

It's not easy to admit, but New Mexico is on the fast track to becoming Nowheresville. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north, Colorado, are experiencing huge tax revenues, improved schools and a raging real estate market. All because of that silly decision two years ago to legalize cannabis.

Colorado, on the other hand, is swimming in it. In 2015, the still-new cannabis market brought in $996.2 million in legal sales of medical and recreational marijuana, a marked improvement on the $699 million from the year before. The taxes and license fees from those sales came out to a whopping $135 million. That's a lot of dough. Dough that gets turned into community centers, patched-up roads, funds for homeless charities, you name it.

$35 million of those tax dollars were earmarked specifically for renovating public schools, and one county used some of its pot money to help send 25 kids to college. There's even a brand-new playground in the works for the city of Pueblo, thanks to excess marijuana tax dollars. Yes. Excess.

That should make your ears twitch if you've been paying attention to the local news, and you're a parent (or anyone who's concerned with child welfare in general). Because once again—three years in a row, woot woot— New Mexico was rated 49th in the nation for child well-being in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count assessment. We were 48th in the nation for economic well-being and 50th for education. The amount of fourth and eighth graders unable to read at a proficient level was above 78%. CBS News straight up told people not to raise their children here.

Which is probably a major reason—other than pure economic decline—that people are getting the fuck out. The state's population only grew 1.3% since 2010. That might not sound too awful, but that increase only happened thanks to a bunch of new babies. Meanwhile, 27,000 more people moved out than moved in at the same time. Compare that to the 101,000 people who moved to Colorado in 2015, an increase that was more than double the national average.

With new people come new businesses and new jobs, something Colorado saw a boom in during the initial months after legalization. And all those people need places to sleep, turning the housing market into a golden-egg-laying monster.

The news coming from our toasted neighbors is so good, it seems crazy that earlier this year, our state senators voted down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed people 25 and older to buy and smoke marijuana. Earlier this month, as one of her reasons for not supporting former Governor Gary Johnson's presidential campaign, Governor Susana Martinez denounced the Libertarian's pro-legalization stance, making me wonder if perhaps she isn't privy to the information, so readily available, about the great experiment happening to the north—maybe the previously mentioned budget cuts included the removal of wi-fi from state offices. When faced with the facts, even she would have to admit that we have nothing to lose, right?

In fact, the only people I can think of who would gain anything from the continued support of prohibition are drug dealers. Legalization means less returns for black market dealers, whose price markups depend on the danger inherent in trafficking illegal substances.

Otherwise, it's just numbers. Put aside any bizarre moral code you've inherited where cannabis is an evil substance that turns brown people into rapists and white people into killers, and just look at the actual stats. Numbers. Why do I feel like I'm yelling into a vacuum? Godammit, everybody wins. Don't you want New Mexico to win?