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A modest proposal for Hogan's next executive order

Gov. Larry Hogan made the annoucement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon on Ocean City's boardwalk.

The news that Gov. Larry Hogan has issued a second executive order to force school districts to start the academic year after Labor Day in an attempt to ensure that his will is thoroughly imposed on state and local education officials, including his own appointees, got us wondering what cause will prompt him to take up his pen next. If the criteria are the same as those he has used to justify monkeying with what has always been the prerogative of local school boards, we have a pretty good idea. Herewith a modest proposal* for Governor Hogan's next executive order.

Whereas, the cultivation of cannabis is an American institution dating to colonial times, when the plant was widely grown for use in ropemaking and other applications;

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Whereas, generations of Americans have used marijuana as a means to relax and enjoy time with family and friends;

Whereas, laws criminalizing the possession of marijuana have imperiled that venerable tradition;

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Whereas, this policy has placed a significant competitive burden on Maryland's economy and many of its leading sectors, from agriculture to tourism;

Whereas, this policy places an unacceptable public health and safety risk on those users who are forced to seek out supplies of the drug on the black market;

Whereas, the state has a particularly compelling interest in safeguarding the physical and psychological well being of minors, who are able to access marijuana outside of the state-controlled regulatory frameworks designed to control under-age use of other potentially harmful vices such as alcohol and tobacco;

Whereas, a recent Washington Post poll found that 61 percent of Maryland voters support legalization of marijuana for recreational use, a number growing rapidly and approaching the 74 percent who supported post-Labor Day school in the same poll;

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Whereas, evidence from opinion polls of the popularity of an idea that voters may not have thought through is the basis for sound public policy;

Whereas, the threshold of $74.3 million in direct economic activity and $7.7 million in new tax revenue has been established as sufficient to justify executive intrusion into a policy area that had previously been understood to be the purview of others;

Whereas, Colorado, a state with a smaller population that is located much farther from major East Coast markets, expects soon to clear $1 billion in annual marijuana sales (not counting ancillary impacts such as hotel stays, bong sales and more frequent late-night Taco Bell runs) and more than $100 million in tax revenues;

Whereas, the opinions of state and local officials with expertise in a given subject matter, including the governor's own appointees, is irrelevant;

Whereas, repeated stated opposition to an idea by the General Assembly is no impediment to gubernatorial policymaking;

Now, therefore, I, Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., governor of the state of Maryland, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of Maryland (good sense, precedent and the opinion of the attorney general notwithstanding) hereby proclaim the following executive order shall take effect immediately:

That possession of small amounts of marijuana shall be legal in Maryland.

That each local police department and state's attorney shall retain discretion over law enforcement unless it contradicts the whims of the state's chief executive.

That a local jurisdiction may apply to the state police annually for a waiver to the requirements of this executive order. A waiver shall only be granted only if a jurisdiction demonstrates a compelling justification. For the purposes of this executive order, a "compelling justification" means only the existence of another local issue the governor can butt into that is of inexplicable interest to Comptroller Peter Franchot, such as the lack of air conditioning in schools.

Given under my hand and the great seal of the state of Maryland, in the city of Annapolis, this 12th day of October, 2016.

Lawrence J. Hogan, Governor

*Note to our readers who may have repressed all memories of high school English class: The use of the phrase "a modest proposal" is a reference to a famous 18th century satire of the same name by Jonathan Swift. Satire is the deliberate use of absurdity to draw attention to the ridiculousness of reality — in that case, a suggestion that the problem of malnourished Irish babies be alleviated by feeding them to the English. Like Swift, we are not actually advocating for what we write here.

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