I don't doubt for a second that Goldy, Jedi blogger over at Horse's Ass, will be older than Yoda someday. Very wise about state politics then he will be. And when he reaches the pruny age of 900, he'll be able to go over to a state liquor store and buy himself a fat joint and smoke it.
Goldy, as he's said before and repeats today, wants state liquor stores to sell pot. So does Dan. So does everybody who isn't insane about drugs.
But the argument that the state should maintain its monopoly on liquor stores because, Goldy writes, "our State Store system actually provides our fast and surest path toward rationalizing marijuana laws" is ridiculous. There is nothing fast or sure about it. Ending the state's stronghold on a private industry is a debate happening now. Pot in liquor stores is decades away (but we can have the discussion about regulating pot without state-run liquor stores; California is having that debate right now).
Here's why: Even if Washington state were to suddenly allow liquor stores to sell pot, liquor stores still wouldn't be able to sell pot.
The federal Controlled Substances Act currently prohibits pot outright—possession, cultivation, distribution, sales. The enforcement of that law kicks in any time there's enough pot to exceed the local jurisdictions, which is any time we're talking about more than 100 to 250 plants in the operation. So a pot-distribution network dealing all of the state's second largest cash crop is a nonstarter, legally speaking.
Here's what would happen if Washington voters or legislators passed a law to sell pot in liquor stores: The feds would file an injunction, the the case would move expeditiously to the Supreme Court, and Washington would lose. It would be a fantastic show. Great stuff, politically speaking. A conversation that Goldy wants and Dan wants and I want... But pot still wouldn't be sold in liquor stores.
Here's the glacial time line for pot in liquor stores (if it ever happens): Congress would have to pass a law to allow states to distribute pot. First, that will require several states actually decriminalizing pot and eliminating penalties for possession and cultivation (no state has done this yet, not even for possession). And then Congress would weigh in, probably at first only by reducing penalties—then allowing a regulatory framework. But don't hold your breath. Congress hasn't even changed the rules for medical marijuana use—for people who are literally dying and under the care of a licensed physician. The only reprieve medical marijuana patients have is the Obama administration's promise not to bust medical-marijuana providers that adhere to state rules. New Mexico has a system in place for distribution, but it's tenuous and at the whims of AG Eric Holder.
For Congress to get there will take decades. Look at the numbers. Medical marijuana is overwhelmingly popular (about 81 percent of American support it), and Congress hasn't done anything. So Congress sure as hell won't act when public support for legalization is less than 50 percent.
There are arguments to maintain the state liquor stores. (I don't buy them; IMO, the state has no business monopolizing one private enterprise simply because it's a vice. We should regulate liquor like other industries, and let voters decide because the legislature has done nothing.) But that argument isn't that liquor stores will some day, eventually, if the stars are aligned, let pot be sold in liquor stores. Once we have the political support to legalize pot, whether or not Washington has a state-run drug-distribution system or not will be incidental to a much, much larger policy decision. And when that happens, Goldy will be older than Yoda. So will Dan.