THE BLOG
11/20/2013 09:07 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

What's Next? Heroin Tax? Making the Illegal Legal Is Simply a Question of Dollars

Let's be real. When it comes to drugs, "public safety" is the last thing on the minds of our elected officials.

You don't think pot has been illegal all these years because it's "dangerous," do you? One look at the main groups continuing to lobby to keep possession of marijuana a crime -- the alcohol and tobacco industries, as well as the private prison industry -- and you can get a sense of what's been going on here all these years.

Taking it another step, the argument that "smoking a joint leads to harder drugs" could easily be made about cigarettes, as well. Yet, you'll find cigarettes in your local supermarket, right next to the People magazines. Oh, right. I forgot. You have to be 18 to buy cigarettes. Please.

Not to mention, it has been shown that nicotine, not heroin, is the most addictive drug known to man. So, why is heroin illegal and cigarettes not? You'll end up just as dead smoking cigarettes. You could say cigarettes take longer to kill you, but I'm sure Keith Richards would disagree with that.

Could it be that we're simply a vain society? If cigarettes did to your outsides what heroin does, odds are, you'd be looking at 10-to-life if you were caught holding a box of Marlboros. After all, who would want all those low-life, 98-pound nicotine addicts -- with their yellow skin, pasty complexions, open sores and a scent like six-day old kitty litter -- roaming the streets?

Having said that, it might not be too much longer before you can walk into your local mini-mart and say, "I'd like two lottery tickets, a vanilla mochachino, and a bag of China White, please."

Obviously, we're a ways off before you can buy an ounce of heroin at 7-11, but, lately, especially now, most state and local governments are in serious financial trouble and are looking for spare change under the car seat. Thus, the argument could be made that, now more than ever, they're pretty much open to anything.

Case in point, after a decades-long fight, voters in New York State finally approved legalized gambling.

Even Congress is looking to get in on the action with a bill to decriminalize the use of marijuana for anyone over 21. Apparently, the powers that be have just discovered that a potential windfall of tax revenue is growing in their neighbors garden right across the street.

Isn't it amazing, no matter how opposed to an issue a community might be, if the state/local/federal piggy bank needs a bit of a "boost," suddenly smoking pot in the privacy of your home, or betting the "Pass" line in the Catskills, isn't such a terrible thing.

The "war" on drugs is probably one of the most costly and least effective endeavors ever undertaken by American politicians and law enforcement. Mainly because everyone, including three past presidents (and probably more), is doing it and will continue to do it.

Whether it's having a beer, smoking a cigarette, taking an Ambien, or simply drinking a cup of coffee, most of us engage in drug use in one form or another on a daily basis. And, contrary to what Joe Arpaio will tell you, you can't put everybody in jail. But, we can tell you which are okay and which are not. And marijuana, even though the number of local municipalities willing to spend taxpayer money prosecuting it is falling like pins in a bowling alley, federally is still not.

It's times like these that Washington reminds me of a big Hollywood studio; They sit back, set in their old-school ways, and let the smaller studios like Colorado, California, New Jersey, etc., take the risk and shoot their own independent versions of the "Blair Pot Projects." Then, weeks later, when the boys upstairs get wind of how much money is being made, hand-over-fist, the marketplace is then flooded with dozens of copycat versions, nationwide.

Whether you're for or against the national legalization of drugs, gambling -- or prostitution, for that matter -- it really doesn't matter. What matters is the common sense to handle these newly legalized forms of contraband responsibly. Because, like it or not, it's an idea whose time has come, so ya better get used to it.

#What Happens in the Catskills, Stays in the Catskills.