Even though the Dow Jones recently pierced 14,000 and is fast approaching an all-time high, and even though home prices are on the rise as are many other economic indicators, there are still too few jobs available. Especially ones that pay six figures.
In Washington State, however, there’s a job that does just that, pays approximately $100,000 a year plus I’m assuming some serious perks. And what’s more, the application process appears to still be open. Keep in mind the job doesn’t require advanced or professional degrees, but it does demand a very special knowledge of all things marijuana. You see the job in question is for Pot Czar in Washington after that state made marijuana legal last November. But first a little election history. (Coincidentally, last night Santa Monica city officials held a community meeting so that residents could weigh in on whether or not to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city by the sea. The Daily Press was there and will be reporting on the outcome in the weekend print edition.)
Lost in Obama’s trouncing of Mitt Romney (332 electoral votes and 5 million popular vote margin) were the historic gains for women (20 female U.S. senators) and advances for the LGBT community. For example, Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay person to win a U.S. Senate seat while marriage equality passed in Maine, Maryland and Washington. But it was also an “awesome” election for lovers of Mary Jane, better known as pot.
Voters in Washington and Colorado, for the first time ever, abolished cannabis prohibition. Some are predicting that this signals the beginning of the movement to legalize pot nationwide, to which others say, “Dude, are you high?”
This leads me back to the as of yet unfilled job in Washington, that being to advise the state on all things weed: how it’s best grown, dried, tested, labeled, packaged and cooked into brownies. It might sound complicated to the lay person, but to the seasoned stoner it’s second nature. In fact, I have at least three friends whose entire lives are seemingly devoted to such arcane knowledge.
Recently, Tacoma, Wash.’s Liquor Control Board reserved a convention center hall with a capacity of 275 people — plus an overflow room — to take questions about the hiring process. If you missed that meeting don’t despair as the job is apparently still open. I wouldn’t pick up and move to Washington just yet, but perhaps a road trip might be in order to fill out an employment application. With that in mind, I have a few suggestions.
As with most job interviews, an applicant’s appearance is crucial and so it is with the Pot Czar position. But instead of a suit and tie, might I suggest a more appropriate ensemble for this particular job, something along the lines of Jeff Spicoli, Sean Penn’s surfer stoner character in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” (For trivia buffs, the Ridgemont Mall scenes were shot at our very own Santa Monica Place, circa 1982.)
And of course if the Liquor Control Board asks, “Are you experienced?” it might be permissible to play an air guitar and do your best Jimi Hendrix impression, assuming that you know who he is. In 1967, the influential electric guitarist’s debut album was entitled “Are You Experienced.” Most speculated that “experienced” referred to drug use, but Hendrix claimed it meant “are you at peace with yourself.” (In 1970, 27-year-old Hendrix died of a drug overdose and definitely not from too much peace.)
All of this brings me to the question whether or not marijuana should be legalized nationwide. (And could Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” album, which I still own, possibly be 47 years old? Yikes!) Here’s a 2011 FBI statistic to consider: police in the U.S. arrest someone for marijuana every 42 seconds. Talk about a buzz kill.
But the legalize marijuana movement is growing. LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, is a group of law enforcement officials that cites the extraordinary expense of arrests, trials and then imprisoning offenders, and instead recommends regulating and taxing marijuana. (The higher you get the lower the deficits?) In fact some are saying that taxing pot could be “Obama’s new stimulus plan,” a phrase that could give Rush Limbaugh indigestion, as if he needed an excuse.
As opposed to Limbaugh, the late William F. Buckley was respected by foes and allies alike. An iconic politically conservative author and commentator, Buckley founded the National Review in 1955 and supported legalizing drugs as far back as the 1990s.
But others say marijuana is a gateway drug and legalizing it would be a sign of moral decay. Perhaps I’m biased, but I know one “constituency” that would be dead set against legalization, the murdering Mexican cartels who rake in trillions off illegal drugs.
So if you’re off to Tacoma in search of the Pot Czar’s job, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it. Remember, there’s always Colorado and in 2014 maybe more states. As for me, I think I’m going to dust off Jimi’s “Are You Experienced” and give it a spin on my turntable. Given today’s high-tech world it’s a little embarrassing that I own a turntable and hundreds of albums. Even worse is the realization that those albums are probably older than most of my readers.
Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org