By Michael Ceron in Opinion
Green is the new gold. Since the first stores opened July 8, 2014, Washington’s marijuana business has brought in more than $50 million in tax revenue.
Walking into stores like Main Street Marijuana in Vancouver, it is likely that at least five to 10 customers will be patiently waiting for their bud of choice.
Other residents haven’t felt the effect of legalized marijuana. Clark student Benjamin Quatier said that he’s never been to any of the recreational marijuana stores. “I just never had the urge to try it,” he said.
Other students say that the legalization of marijuana has helped to remove some of the stigma associated with the drug. “Once it was decriminalized I think a lot more people got on board,” said Clark student Geoffrey Cox. “As it goes on I think people are going to become more interested, especially the older generation that grew up with the stories of how bad marijuana was and how it ruined lives.”
Clark student Chris, who didn’t want to give his last name, smokes marijuana for medicinal purposes. He said he agrees that the decriminalization of the drug has helped people better understand the drug.
When talking about the recreational marijuana stores, Chris said that there is still room for improvement. “Because the taxes, the mark-ups at the stores are really high. A lot of people still rely on the black market because it is so much cheaper.”
Cox agreed. “I go to New Vamsterdam because I have a buddy that works there, so we stay pretty well stocked,” he said. “A lot of people stick to their dealers because it’s cheaper and they already had that connection from before the stores opened.”
The Washington State Legislature passed a bill last month restructuring how taxes are collected on marijuana. Growers, processors and retailers each pay a 25 percent tax on all marijuana transactions. The new law would remove the taxes from the growers and processors, and leave a one-time 37 percent tax on retailers.
While some businesses have made changes to their policies to specifically address marijuana use, others have decided to rely on pre-existing policies.
Clark College has made no changes to its policies regarding drugs and alcohol. According to Vice President of Administrative Services Bob Williamson, Clark’s policies state that the college is a drug free workplace, and all employees will report to work in a fit condition unaffected by alcohol or other controlled substances. He also said that the college has no plans to implement any other procedures at this time.