The seminal advice column Dear Abby waded into waters recently that it probably never would have in decades past. In an answer to a letter from a "Colorado Mom", the household name took on the headline topic of legal marijuana.
The writer expressed concern that her son was getting mixed messages from media sources about marijuana. She said that her son believes that marijuana is illegal and bad for you, in fact, that it is "poison".
In her response, the advice maven said:
"Marijuana isn't poison, unless it was sprayed with a poisonous chemical before being harvested. The marijuana being sold to adults in the states where it is now legal has been carefully cultivated and harvested. Its use is not encouraged among teenagers, however, because research has shown it can impair brain development among young people."
She then went on to compare marijuana to alcohol, which is legal, regulated, and advertised openly. But she pointed out that alcohol is not for minors, and that abuse of either can cause major health problems.
Dear Abby's comments are becoming common conversation points today. In the past, you wouldn't hear anything that "pot-friendly" outside of a NORML brochure. But lawmakers, physicians, and the general public are starting to discuss these and other ideas that used to be fringe.
Back in 2009, when a newly-elected President Obama hosted his first-ever online town hall, the notion of using marijuana as a cash crop, reaping the benefits of taxing it to help the economy, was a very popular question. Obama laughed the question off, despite its popularity, and dismissed it as silly.
"I don't know what this says about our online audience," joked the president. "The answer is No. I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy." Audience members present laughed along with Obama and applauded.
Cut to today, where state after state is considering legalizing marijuana for just such purposes: economics.
The AP reports that Colorado raked in about $2 Million in tax from legal pot sales in the very first month that sales became legal. As some have pointed out, the infrastructure and storefronts for pot sales in Colorado are just starting to pop up. Colorado has a $20 Billion annual budget.
Some point out that, if the tax revenue from pot never gets any higher, something that is highly unlikely, that projects to less than one percent of the state's budget. But others say that is still money that Colorado was not seeing before at all, to say nothing of the savings from the restructuring of the marijuana culture that impacts law enforcement in the state. A penny saved is a penny earned, after all.
Dear Abby and other sources may have more to talk about in the future.
Image via Wikimedia Commons