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A Confederacy of Doobies
October 7, 2012 9:16 PM   Subscribe


 
th;dr
posted by not_on_display at 9:29 PM on October 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


Next month it's quite possible that Washington State will legalize marijuana. The measure is polling high. Opponents can't come up with the bucks to keep their thing going. And even Republicans are smoking the kool-aid.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:50 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting article. Certainly looks at the implications of the voter initiatives on the ballot this year in ways which had never occurred to me before, both from the business end and from the potential methods the Federal government could use to counter any of them which pass. Probably something I'll pass around as recommended reading.

Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 9:51 PM on October 7, 2012


By the way, Mitt Romney thinks that marijuana is a starter drug that leads to harder drugs, though it's unlikely that he's talking from personal experience.

And that's been debunked, you know. Hey Mitt, at least drink one beer before you decide you're an expert on drugs, dude.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:59 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It will be really interesting to see what happens if one of these measures passes. I wonder if it will reduce pressure on medical dispensaries if there are also recreational ones for the DEA to raid instead.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:07 PM on October 7, 2012


feloniousmonk: It will be really interesting to see what happens if one of these measures passes. I wonder if it will reduce pressure on medical dispensaries if there are also recreational ones for the DEA to raid instead.

This could potentially lead to some really, really ugly federal-state power conflicts. Legalization in some states makes enforcement a disaster in all of the others, so the DEA will be facing a lot of pressure, but moving in to enforce the federal laws against the specific will of the state's citizens will be incredibly unpopular. Mostly inside of the state, but also with anyone who tends to favor state rights.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:34 PM on October 7, 2012


Intrade currently puts marijuana legalization in Washington State at 76%. Similar initiatives in Oregon and Colorado are currently trading at 21.1% and 65%.

I have some data from deep polling which I can't use here, but I'm pretty sure marijuana will be legalized in Washington State next month.

It will be interesting.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:36 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


If a whole country legalized marijuana, it could be farmed and mechanically processed for something in the neighborhood of $10 per pound. That would make marijuana like bottled water

I...uh...has anyone seen my jaw? It dropped on the floor somewhere around here
posted by Chipmazing at 10:36 PM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Marijuana is merely the dried flowers and leaves of a plant. So is tea. High-quality marijuana retails for around $300 per ounce; an ounce of even very fancy tea sells for less than $10. If a whole country legalized marijuana, it could be farmed and mechanically processed for something in the neighborhood of $10 per pound. That would make marijuana like bottled water in the sense that the cost of producing the good would be a second-order consideration; most of the final price would come from quality-control inspection, packaging, distribution and retailing.

With legalization, the marijuana production sector would shrivel in terms of revenues and employment even if consumption increased. If legalization were to triple and the number of users and the quantity per user remained the same, all of the resulting demand could be satisfied by less than 30,000 acres of farmland—about three dozen mid-sized farms. Contrast that with the 75 million acres of American soil planted in soybeans. Whatever else nationwide marijuana legalization would do, it wouldn’t create a big production industry or have much effect on the farming sector overall; the logic of mass commodity agricultural production is relentless. Indeed, specialty strains (the equivalent of organic vegetables) and “bundled products” (such as marijuana-infused beer and brownies) would probably become a bigger industry than primary production. Legalization would create more unemployment than it would legitimate jobs for those who are now producing and trafficking illegally.


By this logic, Budweiser and Coors should be the only breweries in the country -- to say nothing of vodka, every single brand of which is legally required to be pure ethanol and water (plus a handful of impurities and flavorings) in a different bottle. Also, all coffee would be Folgers, and would be grown on the same mega-farm in South America.

Drugs do not work this way. People like variety, rarity, taste, cachet, and novelty, and they will pay for it, to the point where price itself is often seen as a synonym for quality. That leaves plenty of room for local, small-scale production, just as with alcohol.
posted by vorfeed at 10:40 PM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yes, vorfeed, but it's very likely that we'll be seeing Camelbis and Marlbud taking over the vast majority of the market if we regulate cannabis like alcohol or tobacco. Will there be specialty producers? Of course, but they'll be maybe 10-20% of the total market, since the regulation will be so onerous that only people operating at very large scale or with a very high margin will be able to afford to meet the burden.

In a less restrictive regulatory environment, there would be a decent chance that the big brands owned by multi-national corporations would have serious competition from small time farmers.
posted by wierdo at 10:54 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


vorfeed, if you read the second-to-last sentence of what you quoted, I think the article agrees with you.

Regarding Washington, I think it's an indication of how the wind is blowing that both of the candidates for Sheriff of the county that contains Seattle are openly pro-legalization. I'd guess that trying to enforce such a widely unpopular law is not just difficult and demoralizing, but also makes the rest of their jobs harder: less respect for the law, less respect for law enforcement. Granted, LEOs in other parts of the state will have other opinions; Seattle's not been big on pot prosecution for a while. (I assume that individual counties or cities could still pass laws prohibiting marijuana, much like there are dry counties in some states. Or would Big Pot throw the commerce clause at them?)
posted by hattifattener at 10:58 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did the doobie pass?

Really, could you please pass the doobie?

Dude, don't bogart that legislation.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:00 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, vorfeed, but it's very likely that we'll be seeing Camelbis and Marlbud taking over the vast majority of the market if we regulate cannabis like alcohol or tobacco. Will there be specialty producers? Of course, but they'll be maybe 10-20% of the total market, since the regulation will be so onerous that only people operating at very large scale or with a very high margin will be able to afford to meet the burden.

In a less restrictive regulatory environment, there would be a decent chance that the big brands owned by multi-national corporations would have serious competition from small time farmers.


We'll see. I suspect that combining "regulation so onerous that only people operating at very large scale or with a very high margin will be able to afford to meet the burden" with a large, pre-existing black market for the same good would create an atmosphere in which small time growers would be able to ignore the regulations, just as they already ignore the laws against marijuana. So far, none of the proposed initiatives are particularly onerous... and even if they were, I'm guessing it'll be at least fifteen years before marijuana businessmen need to worry about national legalization a la Marlbud or Camelbis.
posted by vorfeed at 11:39 PM on October 7, 2012


It will be really interesting to see what happens if one of these measures passes.

"We are proud to announce the establishment of a historic public/private partnership that will ensure safe supplies of weed by our country's best and brightest cigarette corporations, along with handing of management of the former DEA over to the IRS, which will help maximize and enforce collection of tax revenue by growers large and small alike, as well as maintain prison populations that ensure minimum-wage-earning, non-unionized private sector jobs for thousands of hard-working Americans."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's very likely that we'll be seeing Camelbis and Marlbud taking over the vast majority of the market if we regulate cannabis like alcohol or tobacco. Will there be specialty producers? Of course, but they'll be maybe 10-20% of the total market

That seems ... not unreasonable. 10-20% is substantial; I think that's a bigger chunk of the hypothetical market than microbreweries have of the alcohol market. So I'm not sure why we would reasonably expect cannabis to be any different.

Some people are going to want quality, some people are just going to want something that has a reliable effect. You see the same thing with coffee, tea, beer, wine, liquor, etc.

Small producers will have to justify the cost of their product versus the mass-market stuff; the fact that their stuff simply exists won't be enough. And honestly, I won't be crying for the small-timers who can't cut it. A whole lot of people running grow ops aren't the equivalent of microbreweries or 10-acre vineyards, they're just producing the cannabis equivalent of bathtub gin.

That said, the speciality cannabis market is clearly huge, as evidenced by the quasi-legal medical markets that exist today and have a range of products at various prices. Customers aren't shopping simply on price now, so I'm not sure why they'd switch just because "Marlboro Greens" suddenly become available.

Also, I think the potential market for legalized marijuana is almost certainly underestimated. Just as there's a huge difference in demand between something that's given away for free and something sold at nominal-but-nonzero cost, there's a huge difference between illegal-but-tolerated and actually de jure legal. So the 10-20% (or whatever we're positing as the "buys quality" percentage of the market) could potentially be vast, because the current black-market distribution scheme for cannabis and its attendant illegality are so alienating to many potential consumers.

The fact that cannabis cultivation and retail will probably be dominated by mass-market producers and brands shouldn't be any more reason to continue its black-market status than the fact that Budweiser is the dominant brand of beer is a reason for re-enacting Prohibition.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:17 AM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Doesn't matter if the measures pass, the feds will still go in and bust people. Despite Obama's statements to the contrary. I guess those statements are no longer operative.
posted by Justinian at 12:28 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Similar initiatives in Oregon and Colorado are currently trading at 21.1% and 65%.

21%. That's higher than I would have thought.

You have to admit though, the preamble to Measure 80 is a thing of beauty.
I mean, Genesis, Thomas Jefferson and shadowy unnamed conspiracies all in one ballot measure?

There are major structural problems with the law and I'm glad it won't be passed, but man, I wish all ballot measures started out like that.
posted by madajb at 12:33 AM on October 8, 2012


Justinian, what the authors point out is that most law enforcement related to pot is carried out by regional authorities, and that Fed manpower is fairly limited. They could carry out a few symbolic strikes or make some threats, but the Feds don't have the boots or the political capital to mount an earnest effort against the newly legal trade.
posted by daksya at 12:34 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. There are very, very few federal law enforcement agents, federal prosecutors, and federal judges. Large-scale enforcement without the cooperation of state authorities is not even close to feasible. Federal agencies would need to increase their staffing levels 100-1000x.
posted by ryanrs at 1:15 AM on October 8, 2012


That article is so full of inaccuracies I have to think it's propaganda.

Marijuana markets are not associated with much crime or violence and account for only a small share of incarceration for drug offenses.

Anyone even somewhat involved in drug policy reform knows that's not true.

So the essential choice is either to prohibit and deal with black markets or to allow more or less conventionally regulated markets and face greater use and more dependence.

CTRL-F "Portugal": not a single mention. We have evidence now that decriminalization won't greatly increase use, and may decrease it among youth markets.

The article is an interesting economic analysis of the the repercussions of legalization that hasn't been examined much in the media. But given their lack of citations and use of invalid stats, I'm skeptical.

Here's my analysis:

It will pass in WA, and then the DEA will come down hard. They will send a strong symbolic message to other states.

And US citizen's faith in our federal govt. will continue to fall, because it will continue to ignore the will of voters.

The GOP, champion of states rights and individual liberty, will twist itself into more contortions to fight legalization. And the Democrats can't beat the combined forces of the prison unions, police unions and DEA. Even if they wanted to. Which they don't.
posted by formless at 1:39 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


formless, the authors are talking about actual imprisonment and market violence, not the sheer number of arrests.
posted by daksya at 1:44 AM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ahh, I see they quote that elsewhere: "Legalizing marijuana would also drastically reduce the number of arrests for drug-law violations"

I see they acknowledge the issues with possession laws and arrests, but they focus too much on prison rates, which leads to their conclusion of

If the United States had legalized marijuana ten years ago, all of the major concerns expressed by drug policy reformers would still be with us, except there would be fewer marijuana arrests..

Which seems improbable. Marijuana (and crack and other drugs) arrests are one of the biggest causes of these concerns of drug policy reformers.

They're still buying into the criminal justice model of drug use/abuse, instead of a public health model. In economic policy wonk language they'd understand, arrests have a huge negative externality effect on our system.
posted by formless at 2:03 AM on October 8, 2012


"Doesn't matter if the measures pass, the feds will still go in and bust people. Despite Obama's statements to the contrary. I guess those statements are no longer operative."

Obama hasn't said anything with any kind of force of law on the subject, I suspect you are reffering to Attorney General Eric Holder's MEMORANDUM FOR SELECTED UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS on Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana. If you actually read the fucking document it in no way says that the Feds will not still go in and bust people. If you are not to stoned to make it to the end, it states specifically:
"...On the other hand, prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the Department. To be sure, claims of compliance with state or local law may mask operations inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of those laws, and federal law enforcement should not be deterred by such assertions when otherwise pursuing the Department’s core enforcement priorities.Typically, when any of the following characteristics is present, the conduct will not be in clear and unambiguous compliance with applicable state law and may indicate illegal drug trafficking activity of potential federal interest:
-unlawful possession or unlawful use of firearms;
-violence;
-sales to minors;
-financial and marketing activities inconsistent with the terms, conditions, or purposes of state law, including evidence of money laundering activity and/or financial gains or excessive amounts of cash inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;
-amounts of marijuana inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law;
-illegal possession or sale of other controlled substances; or
-ties to other criminal enterprises.
Of course, no State can authorize violations of federal law, and the list of factors above is not intended to describe exhaustively when a federal prosecution may be warranted. Accordingly, in prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act, federal prosecutors are not expected to charge, prove, or otherwise establish any state law violations. Indeed, this memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including laws prohibiting the manufacture, production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on federal property. This guidance regarding resource allocation does not “legalize” marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law, nor is it intended to create any privileges, benefits, or rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any individual, party or witness in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter. Nor does clear and unambiguous compliance with state law or the absence of one or all of the above factors create a legal defense to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Rather, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion.

Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution where there is a reasonable basis to believe that compliance with state law is being invoked as a pretext for the production or distribution of marijuana for purposes not authorized by state law. Nor does this guidance preclude investigation or prosecution, even when there is clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law, in particular circumstances where investigation or prosecution otherwise serves important federal interests."
posted by Blasdelb at 2:11 AM on October 8, 2012


The caveats in that document are an escape valve blessing Feds to go after MMJ operations catering to recreational users, since non-medical pot is still illegal under those state laws. The irony is that should one or more of the initiatives pass, then recreational use would be legalized, and that memorandum should theoretically provide better protection from the Feds. But that's unlikely.
posted by daksya at 2:30 AM on October 8, 2012


Yes, vorfeed, but it's very likely that we'll be seeing Camelbis and Marlbud taking over the vast majority of the market if we regulate cannabis like alcohol or tobacco

As a craft beer fan who dislikes industry hyperconsolidation and monopolies: I will cheerfully accept this as the price of the elimination of one of the pillars of the War on (Certain People who use Some Kinds of) Drugs.

Pot should be no more legal or illegal, regulated or unregulated, as alcohol; if that means it becomes corporatized to the same extent, I know without hesitation which evil I'd find to be lesser.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:40 AM on October 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


i kind of feel bad for all the other substance users who are being left out in the cold, though
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:31 AM on October 8, 2012


They could carry out a few symbolic strikes or make some threats, but the Feds don't have the boots or the political capital to mount an earnest effort against the newly legal trade.

Huh? They simply redirect a fraction of the resources currently used to mount an earnest effort against the illegal trade, and since these 'legal' producers and distributors won't be trying to hid, they'll be trivial to find.
posted by eriko at 6:16 AM on October 8, 2012


formless, the authors are talking about actual imprisonment and market violence, not the sheer number of arrests.

Governments are part of markets. I don't care if the person causing the violence is wearing a gang tattoo or a badge, it's still violence.
posted by eriko at 6:18 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gary Johnson, writing in The Guardian: Legalising marijuana: most Americans get it, so when will our politicians?
Prohibition in the US was a huge, miserable failure. During its 13-year run, beginning in 1920, Prohibition caused a massive rise in organized crime and actually increased alcohol consumption instead of curtail it.

After Prohibition's repeal in 1933, kids didn't start drinking in record numbers. Society didn't collapse. Today, bathtub gin dealers don't run amok on playgrounds; microbreweries don't protect their turf with automatic weapons. Instead, a safe environment to drink was created when the government began regulating and taxing alcohol.

And yet, here we are in 2012, giving Prohibition another shot. For lack of a better word, that's just stupid.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:19 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]



Every dollar we spend on MJ is one less dollar that is less likely to find its way into the church's maw.
posted by notreally at 6:37 AM on October 8, 2012


Maybe the Feds will transfer Laura Duffy up to Seattle.
posted by birdherder at 6:41 AM on October 8, 2012


eriko: They simply redirect a fraction of the resources currently used to mount an earnest effort against the illegal trade

From the article: "the DEA has only 5,000 special agents" who are stationed across the US and the world. And "even among sales and distribution arrests, state and local agencies accounted for roughly 90 percent of the total outside border regions. So as a practical matter, state-level legalization would dramatically reduce enforcement risk, at least for those handling quantities too small to attract Federal attention".

So, most of those resources currently available, won't be. Of course, a special unit or cadre could be deployed on a permanent footing, but that's where the part of the political will in the equation comes in. Obstructing a policy enacted by popular referendum by use of state violence is bad politics (a legal attack - not quite so much) and unless social conservatives capture robust power in DC, not likely to happen, IMHO.

Governments are part of markets.

Besides the point. I agree with your notion but it's not the author's referent.
posted by daksya at 6:45 AM on October 8, 2012


In California, where medical dispensaries are legal (or quasi-legal, since they are technically illegal at the federal level), there was a proposition to make marijuana legal in general.

The companies behind the medical dispenseries put up a lot of the money to stop the proposition from passing. Which makes sense when you think about it (there would no longer be any need for the dispensaries).
posted by eye of newt at 6:49 AM on October 8, 2012


CTRL-F "Portugal": not a single mention. We have evidence now that decriminalization won't greatly increase use, and may decrease it among youth markets.

Portugal is different. It was a change on the national level, it affected all drugs (not just marijuana), and I suspect the dynamics of drug use, the drug trade, and drug enforcement were quite a bit different there than they are in America. So it could be that America would see the same kind of result. I tend to think it would, and I think decriminalization should happen for other reasons even if the result wouldn't be the same. But then again it might not.
posted by jedicus at 6:59 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are not to stoned to make it to the end, it states specifically

[Do not continue this discussion in this vein, please. Read what it says under the box and abide by it. Thanks. ]

posted by jessamyn at 8:13 AM on October 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


And the MMJ dispenseries are the biggest opponents of this ballot measure here in Washington. Because of...reasons.

(Not because their monopoly on "legal" weed "donations" would be threatened or anything)

There's a DUI clause in the law that they are using to oppose the measure. Their "patients" won't ever be able to drive a car, because of the low levels that trigger the DUI provisions.
posted by Windopaene at 8:29 AM on October 8, 2012


And they're using genuinely terrible science to make that DUI claim. Basically they're pretending as if cops can DUI people for having certain amount of inactive THC in their systems - the stuff that the pee tests that bad employers use tests for. instead, the initiative sets the DUI standards based on active THC, which requires a blood test and which tests to see if you are actually at that moment high.

So basically the anti side is the one making easy lies about science here. Even if I weren't already in favor of legalization, that fact by itself would push me in that direction.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:17 AM on October 8, 2012


the initiative sets the DUI standards based on active THC, which requires a blood test and which tests to see if you are actually at that moment high.


The science behind that is super weak. Colorado already had the debate and threw it out. Besides a blood test is a pretty invasive thing to use for suspicion.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:28 PM on October 8, 2012


Chipmazing: If a whole country legalized marijuana, it could be farmed and mechanically processed for something in the neighborhood of $10 per pound. That would make marijuana like bottled water

I...uh...has anyone seen my jaw? It dropped on the floor somewhere around here
I should point out you can make wine for about $5/gallon.

And the tools are basically free, especially if you have a spare toilet to use as a fermenter.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:47 PM on October 8, 2012


I think this article underestimates the feds. They are absolutely not going to let state laws trump federal laws, even unpopular ones. It would be a huge loss of power and they would stand on principle.

They could easily just add another 10 agents per state. Since these are legal and open businesses, a couple of guys could just go from place to place and arrest people all day long. They can seize cash, bank accounts, property, charge people for money laundering and tax evasion. The article only mentions the DEA, but the feds also have FBI, IRS and DHS that can be called upon if necessary.

Set up their own MJ court and just rubberstamp the process like they do DUI's.

Good luck Colorado and Washington.

And the MMJ dispenseries are the biggest opponents of this ballot measure here in Washington. Because of...reasons.

(Not because their monopoly on "legal" weed "donations" would be threatened or anything)


I hate this sort of demonizing of the current distribution system. These dispensaries have been providing medicine for people at personal risk to themselves. They have basically staked their livelihood on this role. Of course they are going to be upset when the state decides to call a game over and give the whole industry to some other entity. Government systems are typically pretty easily gamed by connected people. I see a lot these tax and regulate schemes as a way to grab money from the counter-culture and re-allocate it to more established players.

I think people are going to be surprised when they find out how much of this money is already flowing in the local economy and what will happen when it is taken away.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:51 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]




Kadin2048: "I think that's a bigger chunk of the hypothetical market than microbreweries have of the alcohol market."

That's probably accurate. But it's likely only the case because it's damn near impossible to start a brewery in many states. That isn't to say that I think further tightening those regulations is the way to go.

psycho-alchemy: "Besides a blood test is a pretty invasive thing to use for suspicion."

If you're under suspicion of DUI, there are two things you can do: Delay the breath test as long as possible by having a burping attack, then demand a blood test. Not that I condone drinking and driving, mind you. The real point is that an officer can already demand you take a blood test to prove you're not drunk in most states.
posted by wierdo at 1:16 PM on October 8, 2012


eye of newt: "The companies behind the medical dispenseries put up a lot of the money to stop the proposition from passing. Which makes sense when you think about it (there would no longer be any need for the dispensaries)."

No, they did not. There was not money from dispensaries to the no on Prop 19 campaign. There were definitely dispensaries that were opposed to it (one near my office had big signs up opposing 19), and people in the mmj movement who didn't support it, but they did not put up "a lot" of the money for No on 19. The proponent of Prop 19 ran one of the largest dispensaries in the state at the time as well as an entire business training others to run dispensaries.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:19 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate this sort of demonizing of the current distribution system. These dispensaries have been providing medicine for people at personal risk to themselves. They have basically staked their livelihood on this role. Of course they are going to be upset when the state decides to call a game over and give the whole industry to some other entity. Government systems are typically pretty easily gamed by connected people. I see a lot these tax and regulate schemes as a way to grab money from the counter-culture and re-allocate it to more established players.

I agree. This is why Colorado's Amendment 64 is so clever -- it strongly favors the existing infrastructure, giving special consideration to medical marijuana providers (they can apply for a $5000 license for just $500, and the text about licensure makes it clear that experienced proprietors are preferred.)

That said, I agree with Rob Kampia on this: "the goal is to keep the largest possible number of nonviolent marijuana users/growers/sellers from being arrested and dragged into the criminal justice system". As long as state-level arrests continue, letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is a big mistake.

Regarding the Feds: if they're "absolutely not going to let state laws trump federal laws, even unpopular ones", then they'll open themselves to having to defend that practice before Congress and the Supreme Court. So far, Federal raids have skipped over states which directly license medical marijuana providers (CO, NM, and ME), and there's probably a reason for that. The Court has upheld the idea that the Federal government has the power to regulate interstate commerce, but applying this to state laws which tax and regulate marijuana would look a lot like applying it to state laws which tax and regulate alcohol and tobacco, and that could open a whole new can of worms.
posted by vorfeed at 3:21 PM on October 8, 2012


Does anyone have a guess about how employers in Washington who currently do drug tests will react to this if it passes?

I just don't know the reasoning behind the tests. Is it the company's insurance that's pushing them to do it? If so, I can see many people in Washington not being able to smoke still, because they continue to get tested by their employers. Maybe this still makes sense for people in the medical field, people who operate machinery, etc., but testing in many cases seems like an invasion of privacy if weed is legal. If I go and get a random temp job, I'll get drug tested for marijuana. If pot is legal, should I really be fired because I smoked once on my day off 2 weeks ago? Unless an employee's performance is inhibited by heavy use, it seems unfair.
posted by victory_laser at 3:39 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Being arrested, held in jail (as opposed to prison) and having a criminal record ruins many lives. 50,000 people were arrested for simple marijuana possession in NYC, 80% of them black or latino.

While I do not find it surprising that the authors of this article do not consider that important, I am sure the 40,000 people who were arrested and did not go to "prison", but only to jail might disagree with you.

I know both the growers and the DEA don't want prohibition to end, except those wise enough and courageous enough to support LEAP.

There are few areas which combine the three poisons of ignorance, greed and cruelty in such a sad and stupid way. Why am I free to kill myself with tobacco or on a motorcycle, but not with "bad" drugs? Why arrest someone for what they put into their body, even if it is "bad" (Sugar kills more people than alcohol and tobacco combined)
Hold people responsible for what they do to others, not themselves, even if it is eating and drinking and smoking themselves to death.
posted by sensi63 at 4:17 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's my scrap of anecdata: I've got a younger cousin who lives in Colorado. (I still think of him as a kid, although he's nearly 30 by now. How time flies.) As I write this, he's enrolled in graduate school studying botanical science and agronomy. He's in this field of study because, with the full knowledge and approval of his parents and (I presume) his professors, he aspires to a career in marijuana farming.

Times are changing, my friends.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:47 PM on October 8, 2012


Does anyone have a guess about how employers in Washington who currently do drug tests will react to this if it passes?

I'll guess that if it's an employer which is large enough to have employees in other states, they will keep their drug testing policies in place. This would be similar to how businesses which have employees in several states aren't required to do anything to recognize same-sex marriages (spousal benefits, insurance, etc) for those who live in states where such a thing is legal, often citing DOMA in their policy handbooks as a clarifying principle.

How smaller, WA-only businesses will react will probably be patchwork until a court case is brought which clarifies what they are or are not allowed to do.
posted by hippybear at 6:45 PM on October 8, 2012


> what the authors point out is that most law enforcement related to pot is carried out by regional authorities, and that Fed manpower is fairly limited

Even limited manpower is enough to keep grows indoors, which is an environmental travesty.
posted by morganw at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2012


Since these are legal and open businesses, a couple of guys could just go from place to place and arrest people all day long.

But this hasn't happened yet with medical marijuana. They make some busts and close a few, but the vast majority are open (hundreds in Los Angeles alone, for example). It's possible they would actually try a vastly stepped up closure with non-medical legalization, but I don't think it's a foregone conclusion.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2012


Even limited manpower is enough to keep grows indoors, which is an environmental travesty.

Actually, most serious growers I know prefer to grow indoors. You have full control over climate, amount of light received (which is crucial to getting plants to bud), many fewer pests, growing medium and food...

Once or twice in my life I've had outdoor grown pot which ended up excellent, but most of it ended up of the quality we'd call "ditchweed".
posted by hippybear at 7:54 PM on October 8, 2012


Wouldn't a greenhouse (no pun intended) be the ideal happy medium?
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:55 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]




I think this article underestimates the feds. They are absolutely not going to let state laws trump federal laws, even unpopular ones.

The article seems oblivious to the October 16th hearings when the feds may jerk the rug out from underneath themselves.
posted by Rash at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The science behind that is super weak. Colorado already had the debate and threw it out.

Can you give me more information about this? Everything I can find says that THC (as opposed to THC-COOH) has a half-life of about 30 minutes, which says to me that after 5 hours, you'd have virtually none left in your blood regardless of the initial dose.
posted by KathrynT at 12:18 PM on October 9, 2012


The other day I had a chat with a man who manages a dispensary. He was against amendment 64 on the grounds that it was too ambiguous. "We'll sort of halfway legalize it but you can still be prosecuted for it if we want to" was his sneering depiction of the proposition. He conveniently ignored that this succinctly describes the current state of affairs for medical users. Federal authorities can still prosecute patients, 'patients', and merchants at this very moment. They are kept at bay by a tenuously-held presidency and its grudging détente.

"If you're going to make it legal make it legal all the way!" he insisted, thus dismissing the rubric of alcohol regulation this amendment would apply to cannabis. However his libertarian purism didn't extend to the current law which is essentially identical, but whose scope is even more restrictive. Its use and sale is currently proscribed for all but medical users, of which he is one, and all but medical dealers, whose comfortable number he's counted among.

When I mentioned that people were abusing the system he wholeheartedly agreed with me. But it wasn't the hale and hearty ginning up phony medical complaints that aroused his ire. No, it was hale and hearty street dealers who dared to gin up complaints so they could resell his product to people without access to the prescription process. He boasted nakedly of the collusion between his and other pharmacies. Collusion that artificially raised and fixed prices; cutting out those gray market middlemen and locking in their own monopolies.

The hypocrisy of this system has been entrenching itself for the last ten years. The previous medical amendment has created a privileged class of users and retailers. These folks are now predictably clinging to their privilege, regardless of the precarious position of their rarefied status. If they truly cared about patients they wouldn't bind their fates to the easily-toppled edifice of their own business model. But that is exactly what they do.

Fellow Coloradans.. take another step towards destroying ALL cartels. Take another step towards quashing corruption. Take another step towards increasing the numbers, and thereby the strength of those who grow and use this harmless plant. Help secure the rights of patients who currently use this medicine, and protect them from monopolist merchants that squeeze profits from their miseries.

Vote yes on 64!
posted by clarknova at 10:51 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'd like to clarify my last statement: another dirty trick the Colorado dispensaries pull is to hold the marijuana cards of their patients hostage. They refuse to sell to them unless they give up their right to comparison shop. Not ALL dispensaries do this, but most do.
posted by clarknova at 2:32 PM on October 12, 2012


Marijuana Possession Arrests in Colorado, 1986-2010

Some highlights:

-Marijuana possession arrests in Colorado increased from 4,000 in 1986 to over 10,000 in 2010, totaling 210,000 arrests over the past 25 years.

-In the five years from 1986 to 1990, police in Colorado made 19,400 possession arrests. Twenty years later, from 2006 to 2010, police made 55,900 marijuana possession arrests, almost three times as many.

-From 2001 through 2010, Colorado police made 108,000 arrests for possessing marijuana, overwhelmingly of young people. More than two-thirds (69%) of those arrested were 25 or younger, 79% were 29 or younger, and 86% of those arrested were age 34 or younger.

-Whites, mainly young whites, made up 63% of those arrested in the last ten years. Blacks and Latinos, also mostly young, were 36% of the arrestees.

-Although young African Americans and Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than young whites, in the last ten years police in Colorado arrested Latinos at 1.5 times the rate of whites and arrested blacks at 3.1 times the rate of whites.

posted by vorfeed at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dispensary Owner Faces "A Very Difficult Situation" Says Lawyer on Day Before Medical Marijuana Trial

In brighter news, great news for Jovan Jackson in San Diego (and all of us for the precedent on "contributing" to a "collective")

And when CNN is asking "Why not legalize pot?" you know it's close.

Even limited manpower is enough to keep grows indoors, which is an environmental travesty.

Actually, most serious growers I know prefer to grow indoors.


That doesn't mean it's still not an environmental travesty. Most serious shoppers I know use plastic bags.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


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