I recently visited Oregon and spent 10 days driving around the state. Very scenic. However, one of the things that stood out on the trip was seeing small stores in every town selling marijuana next to liquor stores, dry cleaners and supermarkets. It’s apparently not a big thing out there like it is in our state.
I stopped and went into one of the stores to see what they were like and to ask questions and satisfy my curiosity. It turned out to be an interesting experience. The store was very nice, tastefully set up, and not crowded with customers. In fact, during the half hour I was there only a handful of well dressed middle aged customers came in to make small purchases as they headed home for dinner.
I asked what the rules were and how things worked. The clerk said the store was overseen by the same agency that handles liquor stores. The main requirement to make a purchase was a check of your driver’s license to make sure you were at least 21 years old. Being a visitor, the clerk also touched on some of the state regulations, emphasizing that its against the law to drive ‘high’.
When I asked about the marijuana being sold, he showed me various samples of their products – from marijuana vaping cartridges, medicinal oils, edible candies, and the more traditional buds one smokes. I asked about the prices and he said they sold marijuana for about $5 per gram or about $80 an ounce. He also said citizens could grow up to 4 plants of their own at home.
It was a very weird experience. No police, no threats of arrest, imprisonment, fear… Whatever was being sold in limited quantities was being taxed, was part of a growing private industry with no ties to drug cartels and their dealers. It just seemed so natural and logical. It certainly opened my eyes to a better way to handle the issue than how we still do it in South Carolina and many other states.
I know this is a touch subject for many, but what do you think? How do you think we should be handling the marijuana and hemp growing industry in South Carolina? Do we regulate, tax, and handle marijuana just like we do with alcohol?