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Green Grow the Rushes Go
February 27, 2009 10:16 AM   Subscribe

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is signalling that marijuana policy will now be considered a matter of state jurisdiction. For obvious reasons, medical marijuana champions are celebrating the administration's committment to depart from the Bush and Clinton eras' previous policies of conducting frequent DEA Raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California. But with recent signs of a U.S. economy in even more rapid decline than anyone anticipated, and with California being particularly hard hit, some California politicians are suggesting the time has finally arrived to end the prohibition and put full legalization of marijuana on the table, pointing to potential windfalls in the range of a billion dollars in new tax revenue annually.

Presumably, one could also expect to see a significant boon in California's tourism industry.
posted by saulgoodman (124 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
If California makes marijuana legal and then taxes the profits I surely hope that the money goes to the schools.

BWAAAAHAAAAA
posted by pianomover at 10:19 AM on February 27, 2009


About goddamn time.
posted by stenseng at 10:21 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by clavdivs at 10:23 AM on February 27, 2009


Who wants to open a Doritos distributorship in CA with me?
posted by ElvisJesus at 10:24 AM on February 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


But this is just one guy in the state assembly -- does he really have any backing?

A White House spokesman ... says the president "is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana."

I'm wondering why exactly Obama feels compelled to continue the policy of moral panic. I wonder if the cartels have some influence on Capitol Hill.
posted by crapmatic at 10:26 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm no political expert. I'm just some shmuck on the Internet.

But it seems to me that filmed-pot-smoker Gov. Schwarzenegger could kiss a lot of his dwindling right-wing support goodbye if he even passively permitted this to become law.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2009


I don't know why people still have any faith in Californian voters. Let's get our hopes up about a part of the country that might actually get it right more often than not when it counts.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it amazing that Californians can claim the mildest medical excuse to toke up, but try to marry someone of the same gender — with a known and well-established economic benefit to the state, no less — and that's the end of the world, somehow. Good luck, gang.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2009


You'd have to be a dope not to see that this could be a sticky situation that develops into a chronic problem. It needs to be nipped in the bud before it sprouts like a weed in every corner of American society. We should smoke out those responsible, draw them into the open, and make sure they don't have a pot to piss in.
posted by dersins at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2009 [43 favorites]


DRUG JOKE AMIRITE?
posted by DU at 10:32 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


In 30 years, big corporations will be growing, selling, and marketing marijuana. Liberals will vocally denounce them and anyone who smokes the stuff, armed with piles of data warning of the health dangers of marijuana. Conservatives will tout a minority of scientists who doubt the health risks of marijuana while denouncing the liberals as health nazis. And my grandchildren will wonder why I think it's so funny.
posted by straight at 10:33 AM on February 27, 2009 [42 favorites]


If this comes to pass, I hope they have the same restrictions as existing smoking laws. Because I don't care if you get baked and watch Yo Gaba Gaba at home, but the last thing I need to to go meet a friend at a bar and come home stinking of weed. And don't get buzzed and drive folks.
posted by GuyZero at 10:33 AM on February 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I'm wondering why exactly Obama feels compelled to continue the policy of moral panic. I wonder if the cartels have some influence on Capitol Hill."

Well, if we're to give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he's concerned about this becoming like Clinton's failed attempt to allow gays to serve openly in the military, only to have it become, "Don't ask, don't tell," which the Republicans used as a bludgeon against him for the remaining eight years of his time in office. I'm fine if he just sort of says that kind of thing and lets Holder deal with it, tacitly allowing it but not openly promoting it. I think that's the best we can hope for.

So, how's the rent in the Bay Area, CA, these days?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:35 AM on February 27, 2009


I am still looking into this but, I get the feeling this is much like the repeal of prohibition in the depression for tax revenue.
posted by hexxed at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


"In 30 years, big corporations will be growing, selling, and marketing marijuana. Liberals will vocally denounce them and anyone who smokes the stuff, armed with piles of data warning of the health dangers of marijuana."

I don't think so.

In any event, if it becomes legal I'll be growing it myself organically, and you all are welcome to some.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I find it amazing that Californians can claim the mildest medical excuse to toke up, but try to marry someone of the same gender — with a known and well-established economic benefit to the state, no less — and that's the end of the world, somehow. Good luck, gang."

That's law by referendum for you, not really about California, per se.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:38 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


But this is just one guy in the state assembly -- does he really have any backing?

Don't know, crapmatic, but there's been plenty of support in California so far for legalizing medical marijuana use, which did make it into state law. Presumably that means opposition to normalization/legalization of marijuana is a lot softer in the state than elsewhere, so it doesn't seem too far fetched the idea could gain traction. That said, I'm sure existing federal law prohibiting interstate commerce of marijuana would still apply, making marijuana trade outside of a state still effectively "illegal" from a federal perspective.

his dwindling right-wing support goodbye if he even passively permitted this to become law.

I don't know. An old high school buddy of mine who I recently found out went on to become a full-time Republican Party operative was/is also a huge pot head. A lot of my conservative friends are. Pot is really not much of an issue for large segments of the conservative crowd, in my experience--mainly, it's just a subset of that crowd that are virulently opposed to drug law reform. The haters don't have a whole lot of real leverage, in terms of the raw numbers. It's really only the perception--fed mainly by entrenched law enforcement interests with budgets they don't want to lose--that there'd be fallout that's been holding progress up, IMO.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:39 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fifty bucks tax per ounce? That harshes my mellow.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


We gotta legalize and tax pot. That could really be the big save.
posted by regicide is good for you at 10:41 AM on February 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Now let's work on medical cocaine.
posted by swift at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't care how much they want to tax it as long as they allow people to grow for their own use, and maybe small commercial ops. I'll be at the farmers market ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:45 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Previously (and still open).
posted by gingerbeer at 10:47 AM on February 27, 2009


But it seems to me that filmed-pot-smoker Gov. Schwarzenegger could kiss a lot of his dwindling right-wing support goodbye if he even passively permitted this to become law.

He doesn't need it.

But this is just one guy in the state assembly ...

Oh no. This is Tom Ammiano.

When asked about being locked into the Capitol for all continuous budget negotiations a few weeks ago, he reportedly said, "I haven't slept with so many people since the ’70s."
posted by mrgrimm at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


gingerbeer: Thanks for the link to the previous thread. Would have included that in the FPP had I known about it.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:49 AM on February 27, 2009


Man, this is totally why I love Obama: he is totally a pro.

I read Nixonland the other day, and one thing that the book really underlined for me is that the real skill at politics is juggling stuff in front of the curtain and behind the curtain. For example, Mayor Daley in Chicago had a LOT of intesively racist policies, but he was subtle enough about it that people outside of Chicago didn't necessarily know that, and he remained popular enough that his kids and grandkids are still running the state of Illinois today. But those asshats in the South stood up on tv and said "segregation today and forever!" and waved axe handles around, and now everyone thinks they are assholes who should burn in hell. They undermined their whole point by seeming so hateful and probably did more to end segregation than anyone else, because nobody wanted to be stigmatized as a racist, dumb redneck like them.

I'm sure Obama has always wanted to work towards decriminilizing marijuana. Its a sensible position, he's a sensible guy. But has he said anything about it? No, not at all. Every time I've heard him get asked about it, he's side stepped it.

So cut to today: it's a Friday, the day you dump news you don't want to deal with, because nobody watches the news on the weekend and people forget what happened Friday by Monday morning. Obama gets up in front of everyone and says "Hey, you know those things I promised you about Iraq? Well, instead of the 16 months I said, it's going to be 18!" Since Iraq is still such a sore subject I'm sure this is going to get a lot of press.

Meanwhile, his AG signals "umm, by the way, we're going to look the other way on marijuana." But how many people are going to pay attention to that? With such a big story coming directly from the President on the same day - the worst day of the week to do news coverage? Especially since the story - which actually will have sweeping effects on the drug laws of america - basically boils down to "well, we're going to stop doing something" rather than a big bold "we're going to START doing something!" You've got this big sweeping change - but released in such a way as to absolutely minimize the fuss of it.

I'm telling you man: the guy really is a pro. He's working the machines behind the curtain, but leaving enough dog treats out front so that Toto doesn't start tugging anything he shouldn't.
posted by Kiablokirk at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2009 [41 favorites]


I love calling the Republians' bluff on their neo-federalist rhetoric.

So which state has the most liberal pot laws?
posted by goethean at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2009


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is signalling that marijuana policy will now be considered a matter of state jurisdiction.

This position is far, far from moral panic, crapmatic. Moral panic says, "Pot use threatens the fabric of society!" This new stance vis-a-vis state laws is basically saying, "Pot use ain't so bad."

This represents the feds standing down from their hyper-vigilant, anti-maryJ position that they've been pushing for a long time, and as such is very distinctly NOT moral panic.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:58 AM on February 27, 2009


Now let's work on medical cocaine.

Done. But these days it's called Wellbutrin.
posted by JohnFredra at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


And don't get buzzed and drive folks.

Because you slow-ass stoners going 40 in a 55 are holding the rest of us up. And while we're on it, would you PLEASE not change your order after you get to the window of the drive-thru? I know the Happy Meal toy is sparkly but some of us have SHIT TO DO.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2009 [13 favorites]


Actually, liquid cocaine is used as a topical analgesic. Very strict controls on it, too, from what I gather, because, you know, uncut liquid coke has gotta be pretty desirable.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2009


Now let's work on medical cocaine.

I realize you're probably joking, but cocaine is still used in the US for medical purposes. It's a useful anesthetic and vasoconstrictor when working on the nose or tear ducts.
posted by jedicus at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2009


Maryjane is a vile woman every bit as tempting as Eve when she purposed to lead Adam astray. Wild-eyed craven potheads light up their sticks of evil to get lost in the wacky fog of locoweed. They are destined to become slaves beneath the tormenting lash of their addiction. Caught up in the wild throes of cold turkey, their itching engorged veins scream to be relieved by another joint. With their libertine urges unleashed, nubile under-aged potheads sell their loose bodies for loose change or else head off in gangs to engage in frenzied sprees of weed-crazed violence, rampaging, murdering, sacking and pillaging, deflowering the innocents and carrying off children to be sold into white slavery.
Yes, you can go ahead and choose to frolic in the autumn mist with these hopheaded debauchers. But then, in the blink of an eye, the rapture will come and you'll be left behind and then it'll be only you and the zombis. And I'm not talking about the slow-moving shuffle-as-you-go zombis. I'm talking about the lightning fast, tag-you're-it zombis. This is destined to be your fate. (from a play I wrote)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


loquacious already has packaging and marketing ideas for legal marijuana!

possibly my favorite comment ever
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


I've seen a few times anonymous internet rumors purportedly from the DEA that the real story is the whole DEA knows the dispensary raids are stupid from a PR standpoint.

his dwindling right-wing support goodbye if he even passively permitted this to become law.

I don't know. An old high school buddy of mine who I recently found out went on to become a full-time Republican Party operative was/is also a huge pot head. A lot of my conservative friends are.


Seriously. You know those misguidedly overenthusiastic teenage capital L Libertarian/Ron Paul types? Those kids smoke weed. Most of them sooner or later grow up and realize the Libertarians arrived at their correctly pro-pot views because that happens to be consistent with a whole lot of absurdity.
posted by Sockpuppet For Naughty Things at 11:08 AM on February 27, 2009


I don't get the REM reference in the title, exactly.

I do associate REM with marijuana, I would say.
posted by mwhybark at 11:12 AM on February 27, 2009


"Seriously. You know those misguidedly overenthusiastic teenage capital L Libertarian/Ron Paul types? Those kids smoke weed. Most of them sooner or later grow up and realize the Libertarians arrived at their correctly pro-pot views because that happens to be consistent with a whole lot of absurdity."

A whole lot of regular fiscal conservatives are in that group, too, not just the libertarian fringe, particularly as the generations go by, and some of them continue to smoke it for much longer than college - some accountant/numbers types are really into it. It's only the social conservatives who are terrified of it, and some of them don't really care about marijuana.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:12 AM on February 27, 2009


I find it amazing that Californians can claim the mildest medical excuse to toke up, but try to marry someone of the same gender — with a known and well-established economic benefit to the state, no less — and that's the end of the world, somehow. Good luck, gang.

Hmmm.... maybe we could put a proposition on the ballot that amends the California constitution so that marital discrimination based on sexuality is legal, and simultaneously raises state taxes enough to offset the expected revenue drop from reduced tourism, group boycotts, etc... Then when it fails we can all point to it and say "see, California voters want gay marriage after all."

Except I'm afraid it would still pass.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:13 AM on February 27, 2009


I support full legalization completely, but only as a stepping stone to ending all prohibition. But I'm sure once pot is legalized a lot of the people pushing for it will turn into what they revile; ardent prohibitionists of other people's drugs of choice.
posted by Justinian at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love calling the Republians' bluff on their neo-federalist rhetoric.

This cuts both ways.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish I could buy stock in Trader Joe's.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:18 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Bernt Pancreas' link:

His bill "would remove all penalties in California law on cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, or use of marijuana, natural THC, or paraphernalia for persons over the age of 21,"

I don't see how they'd tax cultivated weight. I expect they won't.

The tax would amount to $50 per ounce of marijuana, which retails on the black market for anywhere from $250 to $500 depending on the source and quality.

It looks like they're not talking about schwag. An ounce of chronic is a lot.
posted by cmoj at 11:20 AM on February 27, 2009


I don't get the REM reference in the title, exactly.

Eh, yeah--there's no direct connection there really. It's more of a word association thing, keying off of "Green Grow," "Rushes," etc. And then, well, almost everybody I knew who listened to REM in high school smoked pot.

posted by saulgoodman at 11:20 AM on February 27, 2009


"It looks like they're not talking about schwag. An ounce of chronic is a lot."

Yeah, I think it would make more sense to tax on price, but regulate on weight.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:27 AM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


In 30 years, big corporations will be growing, selling, and marketing marijuana.

People have been predicting this since at least the late 60s. I'm not holding a monster hit my breath.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:27 AM on February 27, 2009


Screw California. They always get all the attention. Everything California tries to do, Massachusetts does better.
posted by billypilgrim at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


The answer is the same as it is for all "vices", including drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and prostitution:

1. Legalize it
2. Regulate it
3. Tax it

It is profoundly simple.

You buy legal, stamped pot, you know it is of certain quality, has not been adulterated, and can not get you in trouble with the police. Most people would pay more for this, but the effects of the market are such that legal weed, even taxed, would quite likely be cheaper than black market... and possibly MUCH cheaper than black market. Weed is easier to grow than good tomatoes.

Current laws, both public and vehicular, would operate perfectly well with minor changes. Don't drive drunk, don't drive stoned. No smoking tobacco in restaurants, no smoking weed in restaurants.

I really, truly, honestly, SINCERELY, do not see what the big deal is about legalizing pot.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


(oh, and for the record, I have never smoked marijuana. Not even once. But I still support legalizing it.)
posted by Ynoxas at 11:36 AM on February 27, 2009


How is decriminalization better than legalization? It's still illegal to grow or sell it in MA.
posted by rtha at 11:37 AM on February 27, 2009


Fifty bucks tax per ounce? That harshes my mellow.

I dunno. Presumably it'd be a lot cheaper if it weren't illegal, as that removes a lot of the risk and cost associated with growing and selling it. I don't think it's unrealistic to expect that the price could come down by $50 an ounce, which as was said above, is an awful lot of the stuff. That'd make it a wash.
posted by EarBucket at 11:47 AM on February 27, 2009


I posted this in the other thread, but it seems relevant to the conversation here.

From the Board of Equalization press release, based on their analysis:
Legalization of marijuana would cause its street price to decline by 50 percent.
This 50 percent decline in price would lead to an additional consumption of 40 percent.
The imposition of the proposed $50-per-ounce levy would lead to reduced consumption of 11 percent.


This is much more far-reaching than the Massachusetts legislation last year, or Alaska's, or any other state. It takes it out of a criminal justice context entirely, and puts it in the tax code. At the federal level, Barney Frank has introduced a similar bill.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there a quick way of testing for influence under marijuana like a breathalyzer test? If someone could come up with a simple and fast test, the legalization of marijuana overcomes another obstacle wrt traffic enforcement.
posted by porpoise at 11:50 AM on February 27, 2009


Oh for god's sake - leave something for us to feel underground and alternative about! For fuck's sake. They're selling punk by the metric ounce on iTunes and MTV, I can't tell the antiheroes from the heroes in the movies anymore, and even fucking D&D is somehow becoming retro-hip or some shit. At least let us be lurkers and paranoid about smoking a little weed! Let us still have something to do that's Bad and Weird! Or must that too get rolled up and sold at walmart and safeway? Must I suffer through my boss telling me about how stoned he got on the weekend? And if you take this away - what kind of horrific shit will High School kids have to get into to be rebellious and naughty?

THINK THIS THROUGH, PEOPLE
posted by freebird at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2009 [14 favorites]


If someone could come up with a simple and fast test, the legalization of marijuana overcomes another obstacle wrt traffic enforcement.

Here's a simple road test. Hold a bowl full of Cheetos in front of the suspect's face. Instruct them not to eat. Wait five minutes.

"If they comply, they can't be high."

(This could be the technique's official slogan.)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there a quick way of testing for influence under marijuana like a breathalyzer test? If someone could come up with a simple and fast test, the legalization of marijuana overcomes another obstacle wrt traffic enforcement.

that's exactly what I was thinking... I've got nothing against the Weed, but I can't support legalizing it until technology figures out a way to test it in impaired drivers, because you know that there's going to be a rise in idiots who think they're OK to drive while stoned (just like there are plenty of idiot drunks out there currently, who have the same backward thinking)
posted by bitteroldman at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does this mean that all the people in the US prison system for possesion of marijuana are about to have their cases examined? Will they be let free? How about small time dealers? How about people with pot-related criminal records - would they have their slates wiped? It's an interesting legal Pandora's box.
posted by zaelic at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2009


Is there a quick way of testing for influence under marijuana like a breathalyzer test? If someone could come up with a simple and fast test, the legalization of marijuana overcomes another obstacle wrt traffic enforcement.

For a job once I had to take a saliva drug test. It takes about 10 minutes to do and get the results, a measure PPM of THC in your bloodstream. I am guessing that could be altered to a national guide line so that you could test on the spot.
posted by hexxed at 12:15 PM on February 27, 2009


Fifty bucks tax per ounce? That harshes my mellow.

It would be well spent money if it meant people didn't have to worry about going to jail for having that ounce. Hell, I'd be willing to bet that you could double that and people would still happily pay it.

I haven't touched the stuff in a couple of decades, but if it was legalized I would be all over it. Just to, you know... support the economy and shit.

Yeah. The economy.
posted by quin at 12:20 PM on February 27, 2009


THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

Executive Orders #12 & 35:

For Immediate Release
February 27, 2009
___________________________

Everybody must get stoned.

posted by ALongDecember at 12:24 PM on February 27, 2009 [22 favorites]


Does this mean that all the people in the US prison system for possesion of marijuana are about to have their cases examined? Will they be let free? How about small time dealers? How about people with pot-related criminal records - would they have their slates wiped? It's an interesting legal Pandora's box.

Why is it a "Pandora's box"? Some states that have placed holds on capital punishment are reviewing the cases of death row convicts. When a law is overturned there is precedent for looking at existing convictions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 PM on February 27, 2009


I think the main benefit that it finally gives society the tools to more effectively get this stuff out of the reach of kids.

I don't mean to harsh their mellow but taking loadsa drugs while all your biological systems are coming online is unwise.

A problem I can see is folk coming to work stoned from the night before. (If you're on the good indica it can be hard not to).
posted by fingerbang at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2009


As Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, especially in the big cities, "Repeal" was eagerly anticipated. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of "3.2 beer" (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) and light wines. The original Volstead Act had defined "intoxicating beverage" as one with greater than 0.5% alcohol.[2] Upon signing the amendment, Roosevelt made his famous remark; "I think this would be a good time for a beer."

I just can't see Obama saying "Anybody got any papers?"
posted by hexxed at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


New Mexico is working on developing standards for drugged driving.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2009


I'm sure Obama has always wanted to work towards decriminilizing marijuana. Its a sensible position, he's a sensible guy. But has he said anything about it? No, not at all. Every time I've heard him get asked about it, he's side stepped it.

What are you talking about? He had publically supported decriminalizing Marijuana when he was a state senator. link

I think decriminalization as opposed to outright legalization is a bad idea. If you have people growing 'Grey Market' marijuana, you run the risk of real criminals trying to steal it with no recourse for the grower. I read that was actually happening in a town in CA where the police tried to implement that policy.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on February 27, 2009


I've got nothing against the Weed, but I can't support legalizing it until technology figures out a way to test it in impaired drivers

Huh? If the driver is impaired you ticket him. How is this different than alcohol?

Can't stand on one leg? Can't recite the alphabet backwards? Pupils messed up? Probable cause to haul 'em in! Take some blood and presto, case made.
posted by Justinian at 12:42 PM on February 27, 2009


There is nothing in the text of Ammiano's legislation that would make it retroactive. People who were convicted under the law as it stood when they committed their offense would continue to serve their sentences. That is standard practice for most changes in criminal law, and there's no particular reason to think that this would be different. There may well be a subsequent attempt to overturn those sentences, but it would have to be a different bill, and would certainly not be automatic.

Further, none of that is relevant unless both the California and federal bills passed. The way the California bill is written, it would only go into effect if allowed by federal law.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:42 PM on February 27, 2009


Results and excerpts from a quick search on the effects of marijuana on driving.

Marijuana's Effects on Actual Driving Performance

Cannabis and Road Safety

The phenomenon of tolerance to cannabis is well established and this in turn is a serious confounding variable in the studies with this drug. [...]

On the other hand, cannabis caused the subjects to drive in a more conservative manner inasmuch as they maintained a longer headway when car following, refused more opportunities to overtake a vehicle in front and when they accepted this opportunity, they began to do so at a greater distance from the approaching vehicle. [...]

Driving behaviour under cannabis, alcohol and the combination was tested. After alcohol, and alcohol plus cannabis, the subjects showed poorer tracking performance and drove at increased speed over various segments of the course, including the hairpin bend, and the straight section. Under alcohol alone, the speed through the narrow gap was also increased.

On the other hand, marijuana alone was not accompanied by steering or tracking errors. The mean speed dropped significantly after cannabis, both on the hairpin bend and on the straight section of the course. [...]

Although the literature has clearly established that marijuana affects all three domains and results in detriments in the ability to perform many psychomotor and cognitive tasks, the evidence is somewhat more equivocal on the question of actual driving skill and even more equivocal on the question of those aspects of driving skill that are related to safety and accident avoidance. [...]

However, this impairment is mediated in that subjects under marijuana treatment appear to perceive that they are indeed impaired. When they can compensate, they do, for example, by not overtaking, by slowing down and by focussing their attention when they know a response will be required. Unfortunately, such compensation is not possible where events are unexpected or where continuous attention is required. Effects on driving behaviour are present shortly after smoking but do not continue for extended periods. [...]

Very importantly our city driving study showed that drivers who drank alcohol overestimated their performance quality whereas those who smoked marijuana underestimated it. Perhaps as a consequence, the former invested no special effort for accomplishing the task whereas the latter did, and successfully. This evidence strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution, at least in experiments. [...]

The present studies also demonstrated that marijuana can have greater effects in laboratory than driving tests. The last study, for example showed a highly significant effect of THC on hand unsteadiness but not on driving in urban traffic.

posted by effwerd at 12:55 PM on February 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


Huh? If the driver is impaired you ticket him. How is this different than alcohol?

Can't stand on one leg? Can't recite the alphabet backwards? Pupils messed up? Probable cause to haul 'em in! Take some blood and presto, case made.


OK - I was under the impression that you had to take a breathalyzer to make a case, but you're probably right - there are other ways to determine if someone is intoxicated.
posted by bitteroldman at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2009


zaelic: "Does this mean that all the people in the US prison system for possesion of marijuana are about to have their cases examined? Will they be let free? How about small time dealers? How about people with pot-related criminal records - would they have their slates wiped? It's an interesting legal Pandora's box."

Very few laws are written to be retroactive; typically if you did something when it was illegal, the fact that it later became not-illegal doesn't give you a get-out-of-jail free card. Of course, the legislature could write a law so that it was retroactive, but they almost certainly won't — then in addition to legalizing pot, they'd be accused of letting thousands of "convicted drug dealers and offenders" out onto the streets. I can't imagine a political environment where that would be feasible, at least in one shot. You might be able to follow-up drug legalization with fast-track parole programs afterwards, though, at least for non-violent simple possession. (Although how many people are in prison for non-violent simple possession of small quantities of weed, absent any other criminal record, in CA anyway? My understanding was they're rarely handing out serious prison time for that anymore.)

More generally though, I think this needs to be kept in mind when talking about legalization (from Wikipedia's article on Prohibition reform):
In 1932, the Democratic Party's platform included a plank for the repeal of Prohibition, and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt ran for President of the United States promising repeal of federal laws of Prohibition. By then, an estimated three fourths of American voters, and an estimated forty-six states, favored repeal.
Until you see support like that for marijuana legalization — and I don't think we have it now, and I doubt if it even exists in California — you're probably not going to see any serious moves towards legalize-and-tax. There's still a lot of people who need to be convinced and then continually reminded of how much of a failure the drug war, and marijuana policy in particular, has been.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:06 PM on February 27, 2009


I think you need a breathalyzer or blood test result to make a case for DUI: but refusing to take such a test usually results in loss of your driver's license. So the cases would be similar. If you appear intoxicated you can either submit to drug testing or lose your license.
posted by Justinian at 1:07 PM on February 27, 2009


Recent Zogby polls show support among 58% of people on the West Coast for the idea of marijuana legalization. So that puts California pretty close to the 3/4ths threshold you suggest, Kadin2048. If it will truly be left at to the state level to determine policy, California might just be ready for a repeal.

Interestingly, support across all regions for outright legalization is up significantly, getting closer to the 50% mark.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:17 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


More bad economic news for California: Unemployment Rate Jumps To 10.1 Percent.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2009


Does anyone have any data that shows cannabis use causes increased traffic accidents? The only credible thing I can find is a cite mentioning that 33% of people involved in accidents and drug tested were found THC positive but that doesn't really show causality. Everything else that suggests driving while stoned is bad is based on lab research and focused on the obvious impairments from being high but not on actual driving ability and susceptibility to accident.

Certainly one should try to avoid driving while impaired in any way but is there a reason to make it a violation subject to punishments like fines or revocation of privileges? Unless there's more to this, I don't see much cause.
posted by effwerd at 1:33 PM on February 27, 2009


The fivethirtyeight analysis of the polls: 2022 or 2023
posted by gingerbeer at 1:33 PM on February 27, 2009


I've said this before: no one will make money off it if we legalize it. It's too easy to grow. It's a weed. Throw a few seeds in your backyard every spring and you'd be set for the year. Legalization would make weed effectively free.
posted by snofoam at 1:41 PM on February 27, 2009


snofoam: not if you had to be a licensed grower, as for tobacco, which seems to be the kind of regulatory framework being considered.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on February 27, 2009


Eh, yeah--there's no direct connection there really. It's more of a word association thing, keying off of "Green Grow," "Rushes," etc. And then, well, almost everybody I knew who listened to REM in high school smoked pot.

Oh. OK then, thought I was missing something. I did (re) learn that the song is about migrant workers when i was digging around for the thread... and and and something something Mexico and something something fixing the drug war down there and something something... it's like being really stoned and having a big realization that you can't.... no, no, wait. it's not like that at all.

but thanks for clarifying!

posted by mwhybark at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've said this before: no one will make money off it if we legalize it. It's too easy to grow.

Tomatoes are easy to grow (some varieties, anyway). So is chard. Fennel is also a weed here in CA. Summer squash is easy. Etc.

I still buy them from stores, and so do enough other people who don't want to be bothered with dirt, or weeding, or figuring out what the weird little bugs on the tomatoes are (and how to get rid of them, etc.) that the commercial growers of those things make money.

It might be easy to grow ditchweed stuff, but even harvesting and drying it is more work than most people will want to do. They will happily pay for the convenience of buying a nice package of organic weed from Humboldt at Trader Jah's.
posted by rtha at 2:06 PM on February 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


I still buy them from stores

Yeah but not at $50 an ounce.
posted by goethean at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2009


Tom Ammiano is totally my celebrity boyfriend. I saw him at Wilbur Hot Springs once and practically followed him around like a puppy.
posted by serazin at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2009


"I've said this before: no one will make money off it if we legalize it. It's too easy to grow. It's a weed. Throw a few seeds in your backyard every spring and you'd be set for the year. Legalization would make weed effectively free."

Not very many people will want to do this. You can grow oregano and basil, too, and herbs and spices still command a premium.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:18 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweet...pass the dorito's.
posted by winks007 at 2:19 PM on February 27, 2009


> Is there a quick way of testing for influence under marijuana like a breathalyzer test? If someone could come up with a simple and fast test, the legalization of marijuana overcomes another obstacle wrt traffic enforcement.

There is stuff like saliva drug testing, but I have no idea if it would test false positive for someone who had smoked the day or month before.

I think the states that were to legalize pot would have to change their enforcement codes dramatically anyway, and probably have to establish a way to conduct a proper field sobriety test instead of relying of closed source gadgets (yay, real police work again).
posted by mrzarquon at 2:19 PM on February 27, 2009


And, yes, growing the good stuff takes time and care. If you just let it grow wild, you might end up with something good, but probably it will be seedy and eaten by local pests.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:19 PM on February 27, 2009


"I think the states that were to legalize pot would have to change their enforcement codes dramatically anyway, and probably have to establish a way to conduct a proper field sobriety test instead of relying of closed source gadgets (yay, real police work again)."

DUI is already a crime in most jurisdictions, even if it's marijuana. Some police stops have employed the saliva test, although driving while stoned is truly not the problem that driving while drunk is.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:21 PM on February 27, 2009


"Yeah but not at $50 an ounce."

Have you bought organic basil recently?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:22 PM on February 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


no one will make money off it if we legalize it. It's too easy to grow. It's a weed. Throw a few seeds in your backyard every spring and you'd be set for the year. Legalization would make weed effectively free.

Some people will certainly grow it, the same way that some people brew their own beer. Most won't want to.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:24 PM on February 27, 2009


crapmatic: "But this is just one guy in the state assembly -- does he really have any backing?

A White House spokesman ... says the president "is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana."

I'm wondering why exactly Obama feels compelled to continue the policy of moral panic. I wonder if the cartels have some influence on Capitol Hill.
"


Umm... Just a little.

I personally think that the whole system is this nasty incestuous relationship between cartels and the governments. Not just illicit cartels, either, mind you. Alcohol and Tobacco. Don't forget the Military Industrial Complex gains a LOT from the "War" on (some) drugs. I don't doubt that the CIA does a little dealing on the side, as well..

It's why, recently, former heads of Latin American states (conservative leaders, in fact) have called for a radical rethink. Combine this with the recent fivethirtyeight analysis and there are signs of hope.

But it ain't over til it's over...
posted by symbioid at 2:28 PM on February 27, 2009


Yeah but not at $50 an ounce.

An ounce of high-grade marijuana will last a long, long time for a casual smoker. An ounce of tomatoes is enough for one salad.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 2:29 PM on February 27, 2009


Can't stand on one leg? Can't recite the alphabet backwards?

Actually, it would probably be easier to recite the alphabet backwards when you're stoned. That shit would make total sense.
posted by naju at 2:29 PM on February 27, 2009


> Yeah but not at $50 an ounce

Actually, the usual purchase size is an 1/8th, unless you are dutch, which is by the gram.

At current prices, good 1/8 is around $50 or so in the Seattle from people I know who are into that sort of thing. The Resellers will have to pay that amount when they purchase it, not when they resell, so you won't see a % taxed amount (that may end up getting adding on also, which I wouldn't mind, considering how the prices will change as a result of legislative process, the $50/ounce number makes a good point to how much untapped revenue there is).

Gingerbeer has pointed out that prices will drop 50% with legalization, so the same 1/8, the same bud, will cost $25.

But now the reseller will need to recoup that $50 / ounce, which is $6.25, so your what was $50 bag of pot is now $31.25. And you know it was grow well, not in some illegal grow operation in a national forest which is destroying the local ecosystem.

And this doesn't even count the economic stimulation of the growers and farmers being able to directly invest their money, since now they have a legal and legit income stream and no longer have to be afraid of alerting the IRS to their grow operation by their totally out of balance income from their farmers market tomato sales. I think california could make even MORE money by offering an amnesty period for growers to give 20% of their cash on hand as 'past taxes' (ie, money they made from illegally growing pot), no questions asked, so they can operate as a legitimate business post legalization.

Being focused on organic and sustainable growing, there would be an additional affect of alternative energy, sustainable farming investments not just for pot, but for everyone.

Think of it this way, Pot in california is generating around $14 billion dollars in cash, that currently cannot be directly put into circulation without raising suspicion. That is money people are using for income that isn't being taxed, money that isn't part of our credit system, etc. You want to pump money back into the economy to get it rolling again? Make it legal for the one of the largest cash crop growers in California to spend it freely, instead of squirrel it away or pay in untraceable cash as they avoid prosecution.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:38 PM on February 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


What is the basis for the prediction of a 50% decline in price if it were legalized? I'm not saying that isn't true but I'd like to read the analysis.

I know, for example, which is more expensive between street amphetamine and pharmaceutical amphetamine. Hint: It isn't the illegal kind.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on February 27, 2009


“And my grandchildren will wonder why I think it's so funny.”

And paranoid fringe groups will say they government is doing it to keep people passive and fail to see the irony.

But yeah, about time. And I say that as a non-pot smoker. Probably won’t try it if it’s legalized either (of course then I’ll be called a communist for not supporting the U.S. economy).
posted by Smedleyman at 2:59 PM on February 27, 2009


I know, for example, which is more expensive between street amphetamine and pharmaceutical amphetamine. Hint: It isn't the illegal kind.

Yeah, but you can patent pharmaceutical amphetamine. While I'm sure there will be some sort of patent for certain hybrids, you're eliminating losses due to seizure, overhead that comes from having to hide grow rooms and smuggle the pot across borders, several levels of middlemen, etc. Of course, you're adding advertising and marketing costs. I'm not sure just how the balance sheet will change.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2009


The revenue and tax estimates I posted earlier, including the prediction of a 50% decline in cost if legalized, were produced by the California Board of Equalization, and were presented at the press conference on Monday by Betty Yee, Chair of the Board of Equalization. The press release says that their analysis is based on law enforcement reports and academic studies. They will produce more detailed analyses as the legislation moves through the process.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:19 PM on February 27, 2009


you slow-ass stoners going 40 in a 55 are holding the rest of us up.

When I was about half the age I am now, I went to a party and got very, very stoned. I didn't have a car back then, but one of the other partygoers (who was equally stoned) offered me a lift home at the end of the night.

Once in the car, I put the seat right back and lay and listened to the radio. Time, as is it's wont, passed. I glanced over at my driver. His face bore an expression I'd never seen before on anyone - a mix of terror and intense concentration.

I sat up, and realised why. We were flying along. I mean, he had that car rocketing along at some unimaginable velocity. The houses on either side were merging into a blur. The streetlights overhead had become a single illuminating track.

"Mate! Mate! Slow down!" I squeaked.

He had gone for so long without blinking that his eyes were watering now, tears running down his cheeks. "I... I can't" he whispered.

I looked at the speedo. The needle was wavering between 5 and 10 kph.
posted by Ritchie at 3:22 PM on February 27, 2009 [19 favorites]


(of course then I’ll be called a communist for not supporting the U.S. economy).

Nah, Smed, it's all good, man.

Want a brownie?
posted by rtha at 3:23 PM on February 27, 2009


Making it legal with create an open market for people to be able to shop around and find the best product / price. You might have to spend money on labeling and marketing, but most big market growers could be able to do that easily, and it will still cost them significantly less. I know in the Seattle area, growers were using new built houses as growing projects, flipping them and reselling them (even continuing to do so at a loss as the market crashed) after 3 months, to keep from being in any one place too long, was not cheap and involved lots of cash on hand since they could not get a mortgage.

Also, for growers this means: They can get loans (or could have gotten loans, if there were banks with money) to specifically grow pot. They can be pumping cash back into the credit system. They don't HAVE to have cash on hand to buy all the equipment they need (now legal) to operate their sites. Instead of having to maximize their per crop profit by inflating the prices so they get the extra $300K cash from a harvest to buy the next illegal grow house (since they want to move their operation before they sell the current one), they can get a business lease and pay off the equipment over time. They can draw on a line of credit to pay their employees. Which again means a paper trail for income taxes, etc.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:30 PM on February 27, 2009


Justinian : I know, for example, which is more expensive between street amphetamine and pharmaceutical amphetamine. Hint: It isn't the illegal kind.

I'm not sure this is the best example. Aren't pharmaceutical amphetamines still prescription only? That adds another whole level of complication in that as a controlled substance, it means that someone has to dispense it and, by law, secure it when not in use. All of this drives prices up. It's also almost always going to have been strictly quality controlled as well seeing as it's going to be used (generally) in a medicinal capacity. None of this is true of the illegal kind.

A better example might be alcohol: how much of a price difference is there between a bottle of Absolut and the moonshine you can get from the farmer down the road?
posted by quin at 3:31 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


effwerd: "evidence strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourages greater caution, at least in experiments. "

But please, anyone who wishes to should feel free to continue opposing on road safety grounds the legalization of a substance that makes drivers more cautious.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:57 PM on February 27, 2009


substance that makes drivers more cautious

Wow, and not just because they were afraid of an officer pulling them over and asking them to open the Altoids tin on the seat with the bud and the tiny pipe inside.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:20 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Justinian : I know, for example, which is more expensive between street amphetamine and pharmaceutical amphetamine. Hint: It isn't the illegal kind.

Actually, if you have a prescription for Adderall, it's cheaper than a similar weight of street meth. WAY fucking cheaper. And that's between amphetamine and methamphetamine... I don't even think you can get illegal amphetamine anymore, meth having supplanted it.

Adderall on the street is identically illegal as street meth. They're both controlled substances in the possession of somebody without a prescription.
posted by Netzapper at 6:08 PM on February 27, 2009


Legalizing Marijuana in California Could Be Good for the Environment
posted by homunculus at 6:27 PM on February 27, 2009


Legalizing would certainly free up a lot of closet space.
posted by merelyglib at 6:39 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


BC Liquor Control system. I think it has worked pretty good here.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:48 PM on February 27, 2009


Huffington Post had a lengthy article that went pretty deeply into medical marijuana history. It was interesting.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:20 PM on February 27, 2009


I'm wondering why exactly Obama feels compelled to continue the policy of moral panic. I wonder if the cartels have some influence on Capitol Hill.

Yes, Obama is in with the cartels. Yeah, that's the ticket. Remember in the campaign where he said that Mexican drug cartels could have unfettered access to the U.S. and that drugs would be kept illegal to benefit them?
posted by IvoShandor at 7:23 PM on February 27, 2009


Not too mention that cartels don't move most of the marijuana consumed in the U.S., most of it is grown right here. Last post, sorry, I just hate idiocy.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:25 PM on February 27, 2009


Not too mention that cartels don't move most of the marijuana consumed in the U.S., most of it is grown right here.

I don't doubt this is true, although I'm not sure how much American production outweighs Mexican importation. And I don't for a second believe that Obama is in bed with the Mexican cartels (that's just silly). But seeing as the Mexican cartels import somewhere around 15,000 tons of pot into America each year, and there's no American group that produces as much pot as the major Mexican cartels, I don't think this fact buttresses your argument. (Again, not that I think it needs the support).
posted by Bookhouse at 7:51 PM on February 27, 2009


ohpleaseohpleaseohplease ...

Legalizing cannabis would be a masterstroke. The economy and the environment are racing each other to utter collapse and none of the old moves seem to be working. Obama's staring down a Gordian Knot that will cost trillions to cut, right when we're running out of the stuff. No one's lending, no one's hiring, no one's spending and no one seems to have a solution.

You know what would be just the thing right now? A crop that you can produce year-round, is always in demand and already has a large, loyal customer base that's accustomed to paying a premium price. It would be good if this crop was profitable on a small scale, so that anyone with the will to learn how to grow and able to get a ride to Home Depot could put themselves into business. And for large scale producers, perhaps another version of this crop that's an industrial marvel? One with absurdly high yields and hundreds of profitable uses, maybe?

As excited as I would be to see legal trade in chronic bud, I think the real story would be about hemp. It's hardy, it's versatile and it's low-impact. It'd be a much better use of Iowa than all that corn - you can make it into a hell of lot more stuff than HFC and cornmeal, that's for certain.

We've got one kind of cannabis that's psychoactive, worthwhile to cultivate and trade on a small scale and a potential ever-flowing fountain of tax revenue. We've got another kind with the potential to reinvigorate American farming and industry. Right now, not only do we deny ourselves the profits of the latter, but we spend ourselves into bankruptcy chasing after the former! If this business with the banks is as bad as we're told then maybe we oughta consider rearranging our laws so that one of our massive, pointless expenses is replaced with endless profit potential for producers of all sizes.

I don't even think it'll be that hard a sell in the long run. The DEA might squawk, but I'd bet local law enforcement would be relieved to not have to waste their paper-thin resources chasing stoners and growers. Local legislatures need new tax revenue just as bad as the feds. Sure, some conservatives will oppose it on moral grounds. But plenty of conservatives will also support it on free-market and small-government grounds.

If it's ever been worth trying, it's now. Repealing prohibition worked for FDR. Growing hemp worked for just about everyone that signed the Declaration of Independence. These might be ideas worth exploring again.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:02 PM on February 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


HA! See, I told you guys that Obama was just more of the same. For all his rhetoric about change, the Democrats and Republicans are pretty much the same party, just with differ...

wait, what?!
posted by jock@law at 9:00 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


BC marijuana control systems don't seem so bad either... (a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN">Hemp for victory)
posted by anthill at 9:18 PM on February 27, 2009


yes... victory.
posted by anthill at 9:20 PM on February 27, 2009


I'd love to believe that this is going somewhere good, but it's hard to be optimistic about something like this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:50 PM on February 27, 2009


Let me assure you there is not enough political courage in California to make this happen.
posted by vorpal bunny at 11:33 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


purps - how could ending prohibition not end the depression (and help provide some much-needed relief across the border) maybe it should be at the top of the list...
posted by kliuless at 6:46 AM on February 28, 2009


Some parts of Australia already have random drug testing for drivers - it's a 5 minute saliva test.
posted by jacalata at 11:19 AM on February 28, 2009


rtha -I do like brownies. Although THC isn't my thing. I'm pretty mellow after exercise. I don't even drink. Nothing against it tho. I'm probably one of six other guys in the country who genuinely want marijuana legalized for it's ancillary and economic benefits.
Hemp is great rope.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:24 AM on February 28, 2009


*makes a batch of non-pot brownies for Smedleyman*
posted by rtha at 11:43 AM on February 28, 2009


> The needle was wavering between 5 and 10 kph.

Back in high school (i.e. 20 years ago) I heard a variation on this story about a guy driving stoned getting pulled over by the cops. When the cop came up to his window and asked him if he had any idea how fast he was going the driver launched into a sob story about how he was late for a funeral or something and it would never happen again, etc. The punchline, of course, is that he was only doing 10 km/h.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:32 PM on February 28, 2009


he was only doing 10 km/h.
This is the punchline to one of Chris Miller's "Pharmecopia" stories in National Lampoon. Another is when pulled over the driver pulls his tinfoil-wrapped hash out of his pocket, hands it to the officer, and states, "I don't have any ID, but this silver bullet should tell you who I am." Funny to see to them turning into urban legends.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 1:10 PM on February 28, 2009


Today Marijuana, tomorrow Ecstasy!
posted by thinkDifferent at 3:42 PM on March 1, 2009


Obama, You're No Stranger to the Bong: An open letter to the president
posted by homunculus at 2:14 PM on March 3, 2009


Help Mexico by Legalizing Marijuana
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on March 24, 2009


Despite statements by the Obama Administration to the contrary, the DEA has not stopped raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California where medical pot is legal.
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on March 26, 2009


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