Two months ago, Healthcare.gov went live, sort of, as the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act finally went into full effect across the nation. On the first of this new year, right here in Colorado, it became fully legal to sell marijuana for recreational purposes.
Let us compare and contrast the two rollouts, shall we?
The first product, heath insurance, was so desperately needed by some 47 million Americans who lacked it, that our entire healthcare infrastructure had to be upended by force of law in order to accommodate them.
Pot is something which some unknown number of Americans, but probably quite a bit less than 47 million, merely desire.
On the first day those 47 million uninsured Americans were able to purchase health insurance on Healthcare.gov, six did so. Not six million. Six. As in five, six, seven. Only they never made it all the way to seven.
On the first day pot was legally available for recreational use in Colorado, thousands made purchases.
During Healthcare.gov’s period of growing pains, untold thousands, perhaps a million, frustrated customers gave up before they could complete simply setting up an account.
In Colorado last week the scene was somewhat different:
Pot shop owners said enormous amounts of people turned out to purchase recreational marijuana on New Year’s Day. Thousands braved brutal winds and cold to stand in line at pot dispensaries, awaiting their share of the now-legal drug.
“It’s huge,” Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti while waiting outside of the 3D Cannabis Center in downtown Denver. “It hasn’t even sunk in how big this is yet.”
Barbara Brohl, from Colorado’s Department of Revenue, added that “everything’s gone pretty smoothly.”
At the nation’s Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius still refuses to reveal how many people have actually paid for their new ACA coverage, but I feel safe in assuming that Colorado’s pot stores are all paid up.
Under the strictures of the Affordable Care Act, American consumers are given a choice of one of four plans. Those plans are called “Bronze,” “Silver,” “Gold,” and “Platinum.” The Bronze plan is the one you can afford to pay the premiums to buy, but you can’t afford the deductible. The Platinum plan has very affordable copays and deductibles, but you’d have to be a very high earner indeed to afford the premiums.
Colorado’s imaginative and industrious pot growers and marketeers have slightly more options from which you may choose. There’s “Bubba Kush,” which is described as having an “almost tropical like smell. stanks [sic] up the whole room with only a small amount.” There’s also “Sour Diesel,” “Blueberry Yum Yum,” “Purple Haze” (naturally), and “Pineapple Express.” My favorite name might be the delightful mashup “Skywalker OG Kush.” Reviewer Kush_Master007 says it’s the “highest i’ve ever been on any strain.” If you simply must partake, I’d avoid “Ballsack” just because of the name. But also because it’s reported to look, smell, taste, and leave you feeling “like a ballsack.”
At least we don’t lack for choices here in the Mile High City.
Under the Affordable Care Act, you may keep your children on your plan until they reach 26 years of age. Anyone in Colorado 21 years or older may buy marijuana, but I plan on keeping my children away from it by teaching them about bourbon. Short of repeal, there is no way to protect your children from Obamacare.
Under Colorado’s Amendment 64, local communities may choose to opt out of licensing pot shops, limiting sales to communities which choose to allow it. Opting out of the ACA’s strictures is impossible if one were to go by the letter of the law. However, the administration has issued waivers to various politically favored groups and business, extended deadlines by executive fiat, and generally behaved as though the 2,000-page law had been cooked up late at night in a smoky college dorm room.
According to the UK’s London Daily Mail, where Americans are forced to go for timely coverage of the ACA’s flops and foibles, “confusion reigns” as people try to use their new coverage:
● MailOnline spoke with patients who were told they would have to pay their bills in full if they couldn’t prove they had insurance
● One was faced with a $3,000 hospital room charge and opted to leave the hospital after experiencing chest pains
● ‘Should I be in the hospital? Probably,’ she said
● Another, coughing in the cold, walked out without receiving a needed chest x-ray
Consumers face sticker-shock from medical costs under the new Obamacare system, made worse if they can’t prove they’re insured
After inhaling Sour Diesel or Blueberry Yum Yum, confusion also reigns.
Like the Affordable Care Act, however, Amendment 64 also contains a long list of strictures, controls, prohibitions, regulations, taxes, and fees, making pot legalization something less than laissez faire:
Prices in legal pot shops have already risen to upwards of $400 an ounce. Once you factor in taxes, as well as the fact that it looks like shops may periodically be sold out for a while, and some are saying the situation is one that could push pot enthusiasts back to buying marijuana on the black market. “People will get real tired of paying the taxes real fast,” one street dealer in Pueblo named Tracy told the Chieftain. “When you can buy an ounce from me for $225 to $300, the state adds as much as $90 just for the tax.”
If only there was a black market for health insurance.