The Columbus Dispatch
Nate Beeler

I’m just back from Washington State, where legalized marijuana racked up more than $183 million in taxes and about a billion in sales so far this fiscal year, which started last July.

Meanwhile, California is just embarking on its own legal-pot adventure, with millions in weed profits and taxes looming ​— ​except that President Trump has decided to crack down on weed. Why?

With 28 states and D.C. having okayed pot in some form and several more in the process, and 60 percent of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana, why start busting something that’s so popular?

Support for Obamacare is at an all-time high, but Trump wants to kill it. What’s going on here? A president who lost the election by three million votes (saved only by the weird Electoral College) seems to be doing all he can to make himself even more unpopular.

True, possessing, selling, or—God forbid—smoking marijuana is illegal under federal law. But the Obama administration made enforcement a low priority.

Just what Trump’s band of zealots has in store for states that have legalized pot isn’t clear, but in Washington State, at least, it’s going to take quite a wrecking crew and thousands of pot cops to wipe it out.

As I drove around the Seattle area, I spotted huge billboards advertising where one could buy weed. Countless pot shops dot the strip malls. There’s no secret here, folks. I toured one of them, just for journalistic purposes. I didn’t buy a thing.

Inside, the large sales room was as quiet as an ice cream parlor. Quieter, even. A few people dropped in while I was there.

No consumption of the product was allowed inside. Everything was neatly packaged. I could have bought a cannabis-infused cookie for $5. Bags of packaged pot hung on the wall. You aren’t allowed to plant your own pot, but that could change.

Marijuana is not only big business here but also industrialized, with heavy investments. Large, innocuous-appearing structures hide vast arrays of pot plants in temperature-controlled environments.

Sales total about $1 billion so far this fiscal year. All this, I was told, is what California can expect ​— ​and more so ​— ​depending on how hard the White House cracks down.

BIZARRE POLITICS: President Trump has only been in office just over a month, and people are wondering how long he’ll last.

You can get 2-1 odds in Las Vegas that he won’t finish his full term. The “I” for impeachment word is being raised more and more often.

Last week, the city council of the Bay Area’s Richmond called for Trump’s ousting due to his business-related conflicts.

Shrinks are debating whether he’s mentally ill and if so, to what extent. Under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a president can be removed from office in case of “inability” to discharge the powers and duties of office. Then the vice president becomes president.

But that requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and at this point at least, that’s not about to happen. Both have Republican majorities and show no signs of throwing Trump under the presidential bus.

The road to impeachment is just as rocky and unlikely, at least for now.

The 25th Amendment came up after the former president Ronald Reagan revealed his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 1994, but no action was taken.

True, Trump has great trouble separating fact from fiction, which you normally would rather not see in a president with no end of power. He may be a bit loony, but he’s our loony, say GOP leaders. He’s okay as long as he’s helping kill Obamacare, helping the rich get richer, giving the Pentagon all it wants, and stripping Wall Street and the banks of all the safeguards put in place after the recent financial meltdown.

But if Trump ever drastically veers from the GOP line or starts climbing trees in D.C. naked, Vice President Mike Pence should give a careful reading to the 25th.

IRISH INVADE: Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains took the Granada by storm last Tuesday, February 21, filling the stage with Irish step dancers, a pipe band in kilts, a blonde sax player, a UCSB choir, a harpist, singers, kids, a bluegrass guitarist/singer, The Chieftain’s regular singer and thumper on the bodhran Irish drum, and too many others to count. And, of course, tin whistle virtuoso Moloney, who founded The Chieftains in 1962. It was a grand night, thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Editor’s Note: This story was changed on March 6, 2017, to indicate it was after Reagan left office that his Alzheimer’s diagnosis was announced.


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