Now that marijuana has been legalized, everyone will soon be able to experience some new highs. Unfortunately, when pot shops start blossoming on local streets, the only highs that nonusers will feel will be high insurance premiums, high taxes and high-anxiety headaches.
Fronting for the marijuana trade in the Bay State is former Gov. William F. Weld, an old-money Yankee who is reaping new money as the respectable face of a disreputable business.
Weld and his cohorts — an assortment of wealthy entrepreneurs, unknown characters and buyable local politicos — will soon be plying the world’s second-oldest profession, drug addiction. It is rather curious that in this modern age of space exploration and technological advances, we are about to revisit the evils of the China trade and the opium dens of Victorian England, thanks to potheads and the politicians they own.
Nineteenth-century citizens had only to sidestep drug-addled horsemen and stoned carriage drivers. Today, however, the automobile changes the equation, unquestionably elevating the hazards presented by motorists under the influence of mind-altering substances.
Whether drunk or stoned, wrong-way drivers are already a too-frequent occurrence. Until they cause a fatal collision, the court system merely bids them adieu with a fine, sending them back on the road to perdition. DWI lawyers’ oft-heard tales of hardworking men with families to support who cannot get to work without driving are both legion and criminally fraudulent.
Some survive a dozen or more DUI offenses without permanently losing their licenses, repeatedly returning to the public roadways for yet another opportunity to cause a fatal high-speed collision. These are not accidents because killing someone while driving under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, marijuana or any other reality-altering substance is nothing less than manslaughter.
Coming soon to roadways near you are stoned drivers traversing imaginary highways in the sky. While they get high and Weld’s cohorts get richer, the rest of us will experience the thrills of avoiding stoners swerving down the highways, rocketing up off-ramps or barreling down upon us at triple-digit speeds.
If a 100-mph wrong-way driver collides with your 65-mph vehicle, the 165-mph closing impact speed renders your airbags irrelevant. Of course, not all of the miscreants leaving the pot shops will be roaring down the road. Many will simply lounge about, decorating the community’s benches, parks and sidewalks while enjoying their fanciful journeys.
So far, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana because they have never seen a tax they didn’t like, nor one they couldn’t live without. Other states are sure to follow, of course, for two reasons: the irresistible allure of untold billions in marijuana profits, and the large number of lawyers in need of income. Massachusetts alone has 10 law schools pumping out lawyers in search of billable clients, and the resultant pot-related DUI arrests, damage claims, personal injury cases and wrongful-death lawsuits should keep them all gainfully employed for years to come.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in all nine states where marijuana has been legalized, the accident rate has significantly increased, as have insurance premiums, even for nonusers of marijuana.
This is what legal marijuana means for nonusers:
Higher accident risks for all motorists
Higher auto insurance rates
Higher taxes to support public health and welfare services for drug abusers
Lower property tax income as values decline due to the presence of marijuana vendors
Lower tourist income as families avoid pot-shop communities.
Ironically, thanks to enormous gains in employment during the last two years, more Americans than ever before are working and paying taxes. Consequently, state coffers across the country are overflowing with fresh new income, giving the lie to any need for tax money from marijuana sales.
Widespread proposals for pot shops discreetly sited on the edges of communities are like the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. One-stop, drive-through pot shops may soon enable users to get a heroin fix, a joint, and a magic brownie for dessert and continue on their way.
Massachusetts’ legislators are ever in quest of additional tax money to fund the unearned $30,000 pay increases they require to keep debating transgender restroom signage and other key issues of the day. It is no wonder that the mere mention of one’s Massachusetts residency brings knowing laughs from out-of-staters.
No other state has so famously combined extremely high taxes with incredibly poor roads, corrupt politicians, welfare fraud, crooked state police and low-quality public services. The real Massachusetts Miracle is that those who know better are still living here. Perhaps our marijuana-infused Legislature is hoping that a weed a day will make the problems go away.
Warren P. Russo is a veteran journalist who writes on politics from Plum Island. Reach him via WPRjournalist@gmail.com.