Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beer, pot and spirits, oh my!

When Washington state voters approved privatizing their hard liquor business last November, they didn't expect that the price of vodka or tequila would actually increase by up to 30 percent this spring.

That's because they were smart in Washington to tax alcohol sales to replace tax revenues lost to privatization.

It's something that Oregon could implement should the alcohol-privatization hysteria sweep this state, too. Oregon has enough state-run liquor stores in every town to satisfy the most craven desires, but it's never enough. Beer and wine are already sold everywhere.

So far, though, those clamoring for the sale of the hooch at every store possible are either an alcoholic or a libertarian, or both.

As long as we tax all alcohol, beer and wine too, to the hilt like we do cigarettes, I'm all in favor of selling it anywhere.

In fact, don't stop there. Completely legalize marijuana as long as it is taxed appropriately to discourage over-consumption.

The problem with marijuana, though, is that anyone can grow it and they don't need to buy it at a store.

Of course, people can brew beer at home and plenty of them do, but it has had almost no impact on store sales.

Bend has become a beer hub with a new brewpub or brewery opening every month, or so it seems from the breathless news coverage.

Since the logging industry died around here about 20 years ago, and since the housing market is in a prolonged slump, Bend 's beer production is the new big thing.

The local community college offers classes to cater to the beer-maker, amateur and pro alike.

But, why stop at beer. There are plenty of vacant retail stores here that could house sophisticated marijuana-growing operations along with trendy retail fronts from which to sell the weed, pre-rolled or in bulk.

The community college could expand its educational offerings to include marijuana cultivation and pot sales strategies.

Then, when we legalize casinos and prostitution, both taxed of course, Bend could return to its roots as a rollicking frontier town.

It's pro-business and pro-growth.

And tourism, our main "stable" industry, would really attract a diverse crowd.

Think of the jobs! Think of the tax revenues!

And, we won't be thinking of anything else.

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