Think Before You Toke

Weed is legal in Washington state and available for purchase on Capitol Hill if you’re over the age of 21—and willing to pay $26 per gram. The official opening of pot shops has brought to light the extreme price differences between buying legal, tested marijuana and buying pot from medical dispensaries or dealers on the streets. Those looking for weed in most other U.S. cities don’t have a choice, but Seattle residents are now facing new dilemmas. Akin to the organic versus non-organic debate, and to the fair-trade or sweatshop debate, the choice to pay more for legal weed is presenting buyers a new opportunity to vote with their dollars. And, as with other such debates, the price of legal weed can buy you not only a cleaner product, but also a clean conscience.

Buying weed off the streets might seem like a harmless decision­—though the long-term benefits and detriments of smoking pot are still being debated by scientists and doctors. But there are underlying implications of the decision to buy weed illegally that may have a significant global impact as well.

According to an estimate by The New York Times, 40 to 67 percent of marijuana consumed in the U.S. came from Mexico in 2008. The violence caused by illegal drug cartels is increasing, and with it numerous problems for the countries that supply these drugs. While legalizing marijuana is not a surefire way to end the violence associated with drug cartels, it certainly won’t help to ignore the problem and continue buying marijuana off the streets.

Unless you can be sure that the weed that you’re buying is local or otherwise fairly purchased, you might have another reason to reconsider your next high.