THE BLOG

Taxing THC: Turning Old New York into New New Amsterdam

05/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bollocks! How is that California, the crossroads of implants, spray tans and superficiality (Find Yourself Here--no thanks!), has a leg up on the Empire State, historical haven of beatniks, punk rock and Andy Warhol, on the possible legalization and taxation of Cannabis sativa? Where is our Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, calling for the replacement of the corner pusherman with an over-the-counter sale sanctioned by our own groovy, bearded, winking Uncle Sam (with a red, white and blue bong in one hand and a star-spangled hacky sack in the other)?

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I mean aren't we Sodom to their Gommorah? Seriously, let's get that sin tax a-rollin'! We've got a 1.2 billion-dollar budget gap just for the Transit Authority alone. Two-fiddy a ride is getting pretty ridiculous, especially for those post-Metrocard swipes when you realize you forgot your ID or mace and must return home to equip yourself properly (you never know when you might have to deal with state bureaucracy, a random bag check or a hostile homeless man in a state of psychosis who must be put down). You would think that our optically challenged governor (who was rushed to the emergency room late last year to alleviate severe pain associated with glaucoma) should certainly empathize with medical Mary Jane advocates' plight enough to begin planting the seeds for the grow- houses of tomorrow. If he plays it right he could be NORML's modern-day Davey Kushyseed.

Depending on the actual size of the crop (and I'm leaning towards the higher end here based on sales for Hot Pockets and Paul Blart: Mall Cop), nationally taxing the sticky icky could bring in anywhere from 2.4 billion to 31.4 billion a year (which states would get about one third of) according to economists and policy analysts. That's enough to seriously subsidize our failing school system, healthcare for all... or launch a pre-emptive assault on yet another autonomous nation in the Middle East (that's how we'll have to pitch it to get the party pooper neo-conservative vote--apparently swilling bourbon, puffing on cigars, masticating red meat and nurturing an unrelenting xenophobic blood lust are All-American but smoking grass and preaching peace and tolerance are socialist, detrimental to the fabric of society and definitely do not do much to up recruitment for the military-industrial-complex-motivated attack machine--um, sorry, I was listening to War Pigs).

Back to New York. Being that as a state we traditionally consume more of the aforementioned organic hydroponic panacea (hell, we even have home delivery services here--no, I don't have a number you can get!) we would therefore collect a higher proportion of taxes which could be used to shore up our deficits, re-build our ailing infrastructure, provide much needed raises for underpaid public servants and even make the fantastical tales of a future Second Ave subway line become a dank, underground, urine-drenched reality (although I think whatever lives and breeds on the Upper East Side should stay there, with the occasional Lincoln Town Car chauffeured trip to Barneys or Saks Fifth Avenue to stimulate the economy).

And think about what it would do for the tourist trade. Why should the dikey Dutch have a monopoly on specialty "coffee shops"? Hell, we could just dispense it from our Starbucks (there are two to three on every city block as it is). Really, who could resist a Venti Carmel Machiatto, Cranberry Bliss Bar and 1/8 of Mauwie Wauwie Combo? It would also increase traffic to all eateries from the trailer-trash-trodden Ranch One to the overly indulgent credit-card-maxing Il Mulino. Hello Euros! Best of all, with any luck it might actually put a stop to the endless picture-snapping at Ground Zero, on account of it being too much of a bummer! There really is nothing more reprehensible to a native New Yorker than some rube on hiatus from his hick town making rabbit ears over his gap-toothed Cheshire-grinning girlfriend (clad in matching, ill-fitting, street-hawked USA t-shirts) as if our dire tragedy is ride at Disney World. I mean you never see people yucking it up capturing a digital still with "the fam" in front of the levees that burst open in the Eighth Ward in New Orleans. Have a little respect, Silas!

Speaking of Disney, what better way to make the crass commercialization of Times Square less repugnant to the local populace? After all, in a slightly altered state it's easier to suspend disbelief, cynicism and see it for the truly magnificent magical wonderland that city planners, marketing executives and licensors have painstakingly worked to simulate for the selfless sake of the bottom line.

Really, what are we waiting for? As a society we're currently doing a good job of dismantling our out-of-date Blue Laws, how's about mowing down the Anti-Green ones, shattering our antiquated puritanical shackles and moving forward into a slightly hazy but free-choice-filled future where we can choose to be as indulgent or abstinent as we want, individually, while everyone makes a tidy profit and the public coffers are filled to the brim. That sounds like America to me.