socialized pot

A few months ago, I made a half-joking post about the government monopoly on the retail sale of liquor in many states, including my native Oregon, calling it “socialized booze”. Part of the point of that post is that I am tired of people calling things (like certain recent laws to improve health care) “socialism” that don’t involve public or government ownership of capital. When people misuse the word “socialism” to mean “government subsidy or social welfare program”, I have an urge to hit them over the head with a political science textbook.

Anyway, if you think socialized booze is weird, wait until you learn about socialized pot. This fall, Oregonians will vote on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana. But this measure wouldn’t just legalize marijuana, but set up a system where the state government would buy pot from growers and sell it to consumers at state stores.

Mind you, I don’t have a strong opinion on this measure, and as I don’t live in Oregon anymore I don’t need to decide how vote on it. I am sympathetic to legalizing marijuana and to changing our drug laws generally. But I’m not quite sure of the wisdom of having the government in the pot-selling business. (Or the booze-selling business, for that matter.)