Only 2 months old, New York’s legislative session is already producing head-scratching ironies.
They are heading for a ban on vaping flavors like mango, while promoting vaping chemicals like THC.
There are good intentions in banning flavors in nicotine vapes. After all, tobacco companies use flavors (to borrow a line from Tom Leher) because they know full well, that today’s young innocent faces will be tomorrow’s clientele. The baffling part in how the State is so at ease with bans on flavoring, on plastic bags, on Big Gulps, but anyone who doesn’t want a pot shop in their neighborhood is called a Prohibitionist.
Then, there is the social justice irony. We are told that marijuana commercialization will be the vehicle to revitalize communities of color. The pot proposal includes financial and technical assistance to minority and woman-owned business enterprises to set up their own addiction for-profit franchises. Excuse me. Isn’t it possible to offer this same assistance to set up more constructive businesses?
I remember when social justice meant getting drugs out of the inner city, not putting more in. As William White explained: “Malcolm X portrayed alcoholism and addiction as part of the continued machinery of African American oppression. ‘The white man wants black men to stay immoral, unclean, and ignorant. As long as we stay in these conditions, we will keep on begging him and he will control us (Autobiography, p. 221).’”
Finally, there is the “we need to legalize drugs to prevent people from using them” irony. One Senator believes selling dope on your street corner will raise money to prevent and treat drug addiction. He is counting on a cut of the weed tax windfall to fund substance abuse prevention and treatment. Besides the illogic of promoting drug use to prevent drug use, there is the biggest irony of them all. Commercial sales of marijuana are a net negative, even if one just looks at the financial impact. According to one study, for every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization.