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As I See It: Pot? Wanna bet?

The state’s greed for the revenue provided by pot legalization will likely win out some day.

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If you were walking down the street and you found an envelope or wallet on the ground that contained a large amount of money (or small amount for that matter), would you try to find the owner or turn it over to the local police to return it?

Now let’s compare that to how governments might react. Case in point, the state of Minnesota appears to have a budget surplus of $7 billion for its next biennium. The immediate reaction of most of the leaders appears to be, “Wow, how can we spend it?”

We could get into a long philosophical discussion concerning who actually owns that money - the taxpayers or the government?

If you start at the bottom, the government doesn’t earn a dime. Its income comes from taxes and fees levied on the citizens - our money.

But we also elect the politicians to govern on our behalf. I just marvel at how far afield our governments can get in spending the people's money “on our behalf.”

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When I think about the responsibilities of lawmakers I am guided by the U.S. Constitution - “provide for the common defense (safety), promote the general welfare (security), and secure the blessings of liberty (personal freedom) to ourselves and our prosperity.”

Deciding where and how to “spend” this newly identified largesse should be guided by these principles, but I don’t believe that’s going to happen.

Among all the other issues facing the state Legislature, I don’t believe the legalization of marijuana (aka pot) for recreational use and the ability to bet on sports events merit being treated as critical issues - but notice how much media coverage they will get during this legislative session.

We already have an alcohol problem; denied to under 21, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped anyone. Are we proud that 1 in 7 licensed drivers has at least one DUI/DWI conviction? Do we need to provide another substance that will enable drivers to get “high?”

We don’t have any definitive method to determine if someone is impaired by pot. Drunk drivers have killed enough. We know people who drink responsibly. How do we identify those who might use pot responsibly?

By the way, I have no issues whatsoever with medical marijuana.

Legalizing pot is certain to result in more fatalities on the highway - but, how many? I don’t know. It won’t be zero. Should we really accept more deaths for the price of someone’s “recreational” convenience?

While I think not, the state’s greed for the revenue provided by pot legalization will likely win out some day. In legal language, doesn’t that make the state an accomplice before the fact in any deaths that result?

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I know someone is going to shout “personal freedom” in the reaction. That doesn’t hold much water after more than two years of following sometimes specious mask and vaccination mandates.

Government operates under a “one size fits all” method of making rules and laws. Unfortunately, one size fits some, but not all, and on occasion, not even very many.

Wouldn’t you love to be a peacefully protesting truck driver and being labeled a terrorist? I digressed, sorry.

Throw sports betting into the mix. Do you know anyone who has a problem with gambling? I do, and I bet you do too. A couple I know, where one was a compulsive gambler, lost everything and had to move in with one of their children - and the gambler still had to go to the casino long after losing everything.

Casinos and state/nationwide lotteries rake in a lot of money - money that could be spent on food for the family.

Oh, wait, the state will provide children’s meals before, during and after school. There’s child care.

Oh wait, the federal and state governments will provide money and/or tax breaks for child care.

I wonder how much the state will tax the sports betting facilities and operations. An old, slightly off color joke asks the difference between a politician and a practitioner of the world’s oldest profession. The answer is, there are things the practitioner won’t do for money.

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That’s the way I see it.

Opinion by Pete Abler
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