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McClellan: It Would Be Great If Our State Went To Pot


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Would you like to see Missouri become a tourist destination?

It's possible. The door is open. The zany voters of California – once again, they elected Gov. Moonbeam – voted not to legalize pot. What were they thinking? What were they smoking?

Actually, that's it. They were smoking marijuana. You know who was against the proposition to legalize pot? The medical marijuana industry.

And why not? At the moment, they have the market cornered. Approximately 250,000 people have prescriptions. Some suffer from anxiety or insomnia. If each shares his or her legal pot with just one friend, that's half a million pot smokers.

That's de facto legalization. For everybody except tourists.

Which means Missouri can become the first state to offer tourists a joint.

I'd like to own a hotel if we did.

People will be swarming into the state to enjoy our sights. "Oh, man! Dig the Arch! It is so smooth!" Ted Drewes will have to get a 3 a.m. license. Our new breed of tourists will go crazy over concretes. "Oh, man! There is fruit in these things!"

Our Ozark streams, the grape stands along I-44, throwed rolls in Sikeston and all the rest of our state treasures will seem cool and hip when seen through the bloodshot eyes of our tourists.

I am kidding a little, but only a little.

This is something we should do. In the first place, we might as well recognize that legalization is coming. The California vote was fairly close. Forty-six percent of the voters said yes.

Already, the pro-legalization people are gearing up to try again in 2012. Maybe they'll get it then. Maybe it will take another couple of years. But the trend is clear.

This is what we saw with medicinal pot. California was first, in 1996. Since then, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, Nevada, New Mexico, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., passed similar laws.

These things start in California and move east. I saw it with blue sneakers. When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, sneakers came in two colors: black and white. One day a kid moved in from California. He wore blue sneakers. My friends and I thought it was the most ridiculous thing we had ever seen. Blue sneakers! Oh, how we laughed at him.

Within six months, we all had blue sneakers.

It's going to be the same with pot.

We have two choices. We can let California legalize pot in 2012 or 2014 or 2016, and then we can eventually follow, or we can take the lead.

There is precedent for the latter. When Prohibition ended, who was ready? We were. That is, Anheuser-Busch was. The day Prohibition ended, August Busch Jr. read a proclamation on KMOX. "We're back!" The brewery sent a case of Budweiser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

For the next 75 years, we were the beer capital of the country, if not the world.

Of course, you can make a lot of good arguments against beer. It's a gateway drink. Most people who drink whiskey or gin started with beer. It's bad for kids. Show me a high school kid who drinks a lot of beer, and I'll show you a kid who is not doing well in school. Furthermore, some people drink beer and then drive.

You can make similar arguments against pot. I understand that, and I truly believe the world would be a better place if everybody got high on life.

But that is not reality. Many want to take the edge off the day by relaxing with some kind of intoxicant.

Right now, alcohol is the only legal choice. But that is changing. That was the message from California.

Missouri has embraced sin before in an effort to boost tourism. That was the case with legalized gambling. Cute little riverboats were going to cruise our rivers. It was all about tourism.

But we were late to the party. Other states already had casinos. You don't attract any tourists when you're the 12th state or the 25th state to offer something. Even being the second isn't so hot.

I was afraid California was going to beat us with marijuana. It did not. Opportunity knocks.

This is something our Legislature should work on. Republicans ought to embrace it. The Obama administration opposed the California proposition. Isn't that enough to make us want to do it? Down with the feds and their nanny state! Up with states' rights!

Somewhere in rural Missouri is the next August Busch. If we give free enterprise a chance, we might have another 75-year ride. A new Napa Valley. Taxes and jobs and tourism like we've never seen.

A pipe dream, you say? Sort of.

NewsHawk: MedicalNeed: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: stltoday.com
Author: Bill McClellan
Contact: St. Louis Post-Dispatch contact information
Copyright:2010 St. Louis Sports, News, Jobs, Classifieds, Entertainment & Weather
Website:McClellan: It would be great if our state went to pot
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