XXXVI – The Vice Squad

There have been some recent things going on in the state of Utah that may be of interest to people in other states, especially those who partake of certain vices. These things really have nothing to do with me, but I definitely have my opinions on the matters, and some of these opinions might be surprising to some who know me. Anyway let’s dive in.

ALCOHOL

Up until 2018, there were five states where you couldn’t buy alcohol higher than 3.2% (commonly called “near beer”) in most stores. They were Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Utah. As of 2018, the former three states on this list raised their alcohol limits. Just recently, Utah has voted to increase the limit from 3.2% to a whopping 4%. Nothing like what you can get in neighboring Nevada or Arizona, though. And in Utah, anything stronger than that (like wine, vodka or anything else) must be acquired at the monopolized, state-run liquor stores, with their stupidly high markups. Using the example of where I live, one could drive an hour or so to the Valley of Fire in Nevada (just outside Las Vegas) and buy anything their heart desires, and not pay sales tax, to boot, as it’s part of an Indian reservation. Hell, just drive to the Nevada border. There’s tax, but you can go to any store and get your alcohol fix.

On social media, many people express their disdain for Utah’s state monopoly on alcohol, and say that the state enjoys extreme profits to pad politicians’ pockets due to the state monopoly. One thing I find quite ironic: government can monopolize something, and it’s just hunky-dory. But, if a private entity has a monopoly? Oh, god forbid! You must be punished!

And, let’s not ignore the fact that there was a first attempt to set the limit to 4.8%. However, the LDS Church announced their two-cents’ worth, opposing any increase. After that, the bill was defeated (not surprisingly, the majority of lawmakers in Utah are members of said church). A second bill was introduced, which was the one that did pass. Now, I wonder why, if religious entities are supposed to be neutral, why would the Mormon Church get so involved in this matter?🤔

MARIJUANA

There was a huge brouhaha recently about the legalization of medical marijuana in Utah this year. In the 2018 election, there was a ballot proposition (called “Prop 2”) to legalize medical marijuana in Utah (previously, the possession of any amount of weed was a crime). It passed by an overwhelming margin. Prior to the election, the Mormon Church was stating how it was not opposed to medical marijuana in the state. After the election, it came out saying that it still wasn’t opposed to it, but not in the way the voter-approved proposition was worded. So, lawmakers, behind closed doors, drafted a “compromise” marijuana bill, which passed. My question: with whom did lawmakers compromise? Or should I say, caved to?🤔🤨  Anyone else notice a disturbing pattern?

TOBACCO AND VAPING

Now, surprisingly, Utah wasn’t the first state to do this one. Utah lawmakers recently voted to change the legal tobacco age to 21. When I say “tobacco age”, it means tobacco and vape stuff. That’ll take effect 2021. I know California did this a couple of years ago, and some other states are doing the same. But, this new tobacco age in Utah has a caveat: People will have to be 21 to buy tobacco, unless you’re in the military. Soldiers will be able to buy at 18. Now, I get not wanting kids to smoke or vape. But, like any vice available, if someone is determined enough, they’ll find a way to satisfy their vices.

Here’s something I think is so ridiculous, it’s laughable. But, in Hawaii, someone is dead serious about outlawing cigarettes altogether. It was the first state to raise their tobacco age to 21. Now, if one lawmaker there has their way, in the next five years, they would raise the legal tobacco age to 100 (and no, that’s not a typo). So, under that premise, some 90-year-old Hawaiian, who’s smoked their whole life, by 2025, would become a criminal. Like I said, I get not wanting kids to smoke, but isn’t that a tad extreme?

MY TWO-CENTS’ WORTH

Utah should just go the way of the neighboring states as far as alcohol goes. Get rid of the damned state liquor stores. If all alcohol were more readily-accessible, Utah could reap the tax revenue from people who normally go to a neighboring state to get their booze. Will it happen? Probably not. Utah is a normally-backward state that wants to emulate California in all the wrong ways, unfortunately.

Why not just legalize weed altogether, or at least decriminalize it? There’s never been a case of overdose on weed, and most of the time, weed heads just do their own thing. They normally don’t bother anyone. I don’t use weed, nor do I ever intend to, but if someone wants to do a doobie, that’s their prerogative.

Smoking is definitely harmful. Secondhand smoke is also bad. Nothing good comes from smoking. Vaping isn’t even a safe alternative, though you might not stink as much. What I don’t get, though, is if at 18, you’re old enough to make your own decisions, need to give permission for anyone else to access your medical records (i.e., HIPAA), enter the military and die for your country, why can’t you, at 18, buy alcohol and get drunk, or smoke, if you so desire? I may not partake in certain vices, but I still don’t get the double standard.

One more thing I don’t understand: for an entity who has normally strived to remain politically neutral, the Mormon Church has sure given its opinions on political matters recently. Especially on subjects that it teaches its members shouldn’t do. Just because Mormons aren’t supposed to drink, or whatever, the Church should butt out of the lives of other people in Utah who do not subscribe to its teachings. A Utah-based news channel posted a couple of recent polls on Facebook. The polls asked if 1) people supported recreational marijuana or not, and 2) if the Mormon Church has too much influence in Utah politics. In both of those polls, the overwhelming majority said yes. Something like 90% of respondents support recreational marijuana, and like 89% said the LDS Church has too much influence in Utah politics. The Church doesn’t necessarily run Utah, but it kind of does indirectly, as most of the lawmakers in Utah (88% at last check) belong to the state’s predominant religion. Personally, those people should govern by what their constituents want, not what their religious teachings dictate.


I guess this week’s post is more informative than entertaining. Well, I am here to entertain and inform, so I suppose I’m meeting that criterium. It looks like that wraps up yet another post. From “Utah’s Dixie” to all of you out there on the Interwebs, enjoy another week of this rapidly-passing year. Until we meet again for another chapter of this blog saga, be safe and be well.

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