Classmates With Rasmuson 

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Classmates With Rasmuson
I loved John Rasmuson's column ["Be My Valentine," Feb 12]. I was in the same class as he at Rosslyn Heights Elementary School. It brought back great memories:

I dated Sharon E. in fourth grade. It was my first date: We were driven by her dad. I took her to the movies in Sugar House. I was lucky to play football with Gary S. at Highland High School.

I follow Rasmuson's columns. He does a fantastic job! I'm proud to have been a schoolmate and to have exchanged valentine cards with him.
Tim Alexander
Salt Lake City

Don't Tax Marijuana
On Feb. 20, U.S. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced two new bills for federal marijuana legalization. The U.S. government's practice of imprisoning, fining, harassing and stigmatizing marijuana users is tragic and has damaged many lives. Ending prohibition is a welcome change, but these bills have severe problems. If passed, they would turn marijuana into a cartelized industry rather than a business opportunity for everyday people.

Blumenauer's bill, The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015, would place a federal excise tax on marijuana, and occupational taxes on marijuana-related businesses. Polis' resolution, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would end federal prohibition of marijuana and transfer enforcement from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The bills would subject marijuana to the same sort of taxation and regulation as alcohol and tobacco, using Colorado as a nationwide model. Such a regime would lead to the development of "big marijuana" firms similar to "big alcohol" and "big tobacco."

Large conglomerates dominate the alcohol (Anheuser-Busch, InBev and SABMiller) and tobacco (Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds) markets, under the existing system of state-imposed excise taxes, licensing and mandatory three-tier distribution. The extra costs of these requirements keep small producers out of these industries. The result is stifled competition and ripped-off consumers. The same process will ultimately lead to "big marijuana" conglomerates with Anheuser-Busch-like market power and advertising budgets.

Supporters of marijuana prohibition are not getting any younger. More than 213 million Americans live in jurisdictions with some form of legal marijuana use. Growing numbers recognize marijuana as a means of relaxation, a catalyst for creativity and an exciting business opportunity. The only choice is whether to end prohibition in a way that keeps money in the hands of small producers and sellers, or one that concentrates it the hands of big business. The free-market approach of decriminalization and nonintervention does the former. Polis and Blumenauer's "regulate and tax" approach does the latter. If American 20-somethings want to earn money by selling pot to their friends, let them. If it helps them pay their bills and keep themselves off welfare, we are all better off for it.

Government interventions tend to benefit big business and economic elites at the expense of ordinary people. Marijuana policy is no exception. The state's current prohibitionist policies benefit violent drug cartels, just as hyper-regulatory policies will benefit cartels of big corporations. This is just another area of life to get the state out of. In a free society, consenting buyers and sellers can make their own decisions about marijuana. The state and Big Business can stay out of it.
James C. Wilson
Center for a Stateless Society
Minneapolis, Minn.

Horse Sense
Thanks to Robyn Van Valkenburg you for sharing a well-written article about the benefits inmate horse-gentling programs bring to so many ["Broken Bad," Feb. 19].

Everyone involved is a winner, and it is so wonderful to know that many folks find an honest relationship for the first time in their life. It is so sad that, with all the good that comes from programs like the Hard Time Corral, it would be terminated.

As a taxpayer, I hope those involved will wake up and keep programs like this that will help our gathered Mustangs, for as they are trained, they will have a better future, and our inmates will no doubt be better citizens, having learned the value of trust and how to work hard for something they treasure. Robyn, keep shining the light on right.
Angie Gaines
Kaufman, Texas

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