Back in March I wrote a piece called “I’m Flattered, But I’m Taken — An Open Letter to Washington State,” and the gist of it was that on two fronts — marijuana legalization and the minimum wage — the Evergreen State is leading the progressive charge, and that because of those two factors it was becoming more and more of an enticing idea to move my family up there.
Today, it’s definitely time to add Colorado to that list of states that are making even Southern California look stodgy and old fashioned.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the $90 million dollars in recreational marijuana sold in Colorado in the first five months that pot has been a legal product of commerce in the state. When you combine that with the $165 million in medical marijuana purchases — that are almost doubling recreational sales, notice — you have a tax windfall of $255 million. That’s over a quarter billion dollars in sales in five months.
Colorado voters approved a 25% tax on recreational weed sales last year. I’m no math whiz, but by my accounting, that’s $22.5 million in tax revenue generated in five months. When you add in all the other sales and licensing costs, Colorado officials say you can tack another $12.5 million onto the total, meaning that in for about the first half of the year, Colorado has brought in an astounding thirty five million dollars in tax revenue.
How much infrastructure repair and education reform could your state do with an extra $70 million a year?
As if leading the country into a new dawn out of the years of the insipid War on Drugs wasn’t enough for the citizens of Colorado, they’re also proving something social progressives have been trying to drill into the public’s heads for years: access to contraception reduces teen pregnancies and abortions. Period. It’s not really rocket science, of course. After all, soaking your napkin in water will keep it from burning up when you put a match to it, right? Well, thanks to an initiative that brings together both private donors and state resources, the proof is most certainly in the pudding.
In 2009, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative started distributing IUDs and other contraceptive implants to women with low incomes. The initiative has been funded by an anonymous private donor for the five years since, and with the help of the state government, clinics were established where women could go and get access to contraceptive devices that have incredibly high effectiveness rates in preventing pregnancies. The results of this initiative are stunning.
Governor John Hickenlooper (man that is a fun-ass name to type) recently announced in a press conference that the teen birth rate in the state dropped a whopping forty percent in the five years the program has been running. Teen abortion rates plummeted by 35%, and again this is not advanced civic planning here. This is common sense. If the kids don’t pregnant, they don’t have babies and they don’t get abortions. Colorado has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that providing access to contraceptives can and will bring down the number of unwanted pregnancies, and in turn fewer abortions are needed.
We all know, of course, that the religious right will both deny and refute these numbers. First they’ll ignore it while they huddle in their think tanks looking for a response. Then they’ll conclude it’s best to go with the old message of “moral decay stems from women being as free sexually as men have been for centuries” and that’ll be that, of course. But I have to wonder, as Colorado’s teen pregnancy and birth rate continues to fall, how many other states will fall in line and do the same?
I won’t hold my breath for red states to do it, of course. I have become more and more convinced over the last couple of years after watching Republicans all over the country writing harsher and harsher abortion laws that deep-down, beyond even the likely genuinely held beliefs that God thinks abortion is baby murder, that population control is really what the GOP is after…and not in the way you and I might think of population control, either.
I’m starting to get the idea that conservatives truly believe the only way to defeat the insipid liberal onslaught in this country is to literally outbreed us, and to make kids as ignorant and stupid as possible. So they cut access to contraceptives to make it easier for teens to get pregnant, drop out of their schools where they learn that the Earth is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs were ridden by cavemen in prehistoric polo matches, to raise more ignorant, stupid kids, who then in turn become Republican voters.
Don’t like me categorizing Republican voters as dumb? Then start showing me election returns where Republican voters put support behind candidates who aren’t climate change deniers. Show me election results where Republican candidates who accept the social science that gay marriage doesn’t ruin children and that contraceptive access is the real key to lowering birth and abortion rates. Until then, I will not now, nor ever, back away from my assertion that the GOP has fully embraced the mantle of the “Stupid Party.”
But alas, not all hope is lost. Washington and Colorado are making huge progressive strides. Vermont, those cheeky hippies, have a plan in place to make health care in their state single-payer within the next decade. In a time when it seems like everyone in our government has stopped listening to us, from the local level all the way up to the Oval Office, it’s really heartening to see state governments making things happen like ending the drug war and proving that abstinence-only sex education is a simple idea for dumb people, and thus, there really is still hope for change in this God forsaken land of ours.