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August 18, 2015 12:21 AM   Subscribe

Big Pot: the California Democratic party added marijuana legalisation to its party platform - "Earlier this year Founders Fund, a venture capital firm co-founded by Peter Thiel, led a $75m investment round into Privateer, a private equity group focused on cannabis. It is the biggest single investment in the US cannabis industry to date: 'What Privateer is doing is looking like a Procter & Gamble or a Coca-Cola approach. The real value in the market is going to be having the Coke-calibre brand...' Meanwhile, a distinctly California-style backlash is already growing [and] the US has become an exporter of illegal cannabis to Mexico, as cultivation in the US has increased."

Choice excerpt:
Kennedy recalls one "scary" meeting at a Starbucks in Portland, where he met with a man who had contacted him on LinkedIn. "He slid his card across the table, and it said DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency]," Kennedy says. "My heart rate rose a bit. Then he slid this white envelope across the table and I thought, 'What have I done?' But it turned out to be his résumé." The man had spent most of his career as a drug-busting special agent. Now he is Privateer's general counsel.
posted by kliuless (73 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
The backlash against this sort of thing really cracks me up. I've heard a ton of it living in seattle, having worked at a dispensary for a little while, and having many friends who did as well.

It basically turns into a bunch of otherwise smart, thoughtful, well spoken people spouting bizarre almost chemtrails or antivaxer level weird conspiracy shit about how the coalescing Big Growers are already "spraying weird chemicals on it" or using weird toxic fertilizers or that sort of stuff with no proof or basis in reality. Just that Their Friend They Really Trust whose totally got the inside scoop told it to them over a beer or... something.

To me, at least, it always comes off as a bunch of tapdancing around the fact that big corporations getting in means that smoking weed is no longer punk rock nor a radical 2-4-6-8 smash the church/smash the state act.

Just because the anheuser busch of pot is being formed doesn't mean that the equivalent of your local brewpub won't exist. But a lot of people seem to think that should be the only thing that exists... and well, that's just completely unrealistic when there's this much money to be made.

Will scummy stuff and anticompetive practices or SV "disrupt" bullshit probably come in to play? Of course. But i'm just really tired of hearing about how this is inherently like, nestle-and-baby-formula bad and how people are going to be getting brain cancer from the secret illuminati chemicals.
posted by emptythought at 2:12 AM on August 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


Mild paranoia in habitual pot smokers? Shocked!
posted by cromagnon at 2:40 AM on August 18, 2015 [24 favorites]


Here's the problem, from a small-business perspective:

There is a lot of money to be made in pot. A LOT. This means that every company, from Philip Morris to GlaxoSmithKline, wants to make it. And the second weed becomes "acceptable", it becomes big business, and we (small producers) lose all ability to exist.

It's like when giant corporations came in and took control of California agriculture during the dust-bowl era. That is actually going to happen. EVERYONE knows that weed is the next great product, and the only thing keeping big business out is IRS code 280E and federal scheduling.

The second that changes is the the day the dream dies.

I mean, not for the consumers. You stoners will get all the weed you want, for dirt cheap, and you stoners are going to be stoked as fuck.

Legal weed will become no different than "animal husbandry".. it will be a commodity produced in shitty conditions with price-point as the bottom line.

It's terrible, because it's so fucked up what possession of this plant does to people in regards to the police. And yet, the second we legitimize this plant, we are creating an industry that will be as horrifically profitable and immoral as Monsanto's and Tyson's wildest dreams.

I work in this industry, and we are all scrambling to "make hay while the sun shine" because there's a coming storm, and everyone knows it. Some of us might survive, but it will be hard to with our morals intact. You don't really understand how terrifying big business is, till you realize how quickly it could eradicate your raison d'etre. 37 billion dollars, in the US alone, do you think they will give a single fucking fuck?

I've seen what GSK is building in Uruguay, I know what GW has in Britain, and I've heard what RJ Reynolds thinks of I502. Whatever happens in California, let's all hope it happens slowly.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 2:58 AM on August 18, 2015 [24 favorites]


I'm automatically suspicious of anyone who's trying to make money off of something he doesn't enjoy using himself. This article features such figures in spades. That doesn't mean chemical weirdness or slave labor, but it does usually mean pushing quality (whatever it is) as low as the market will bear, maybe a little bit lower. Someone who doesn't enjoy his own product has no real clue what one compromise will do versus another. Which is how we end up with Hershey's kisses that taste like vomit.

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level — it falls under the most stringent drug classification, along with heroin, Ecstasy and LSD.

I heard it once said here (don't remember who said it) that the reason it was so vital to keep marijuana illegal is because people would soon discover that many other banned substances aren't as dangerous as the public has been lead to believe. David Nutt tried to open that door and was fired for his trouble, but once Aunt Esme tries and likes pot, who knows what might happen.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:04 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just because the anheuser busch of pot is being formed doesn't mean that the equivalent of your local brewpub won't exist.

I dunno bout that. The informal free market of growers, distributors, and potheads who sustained the industry for decades don't seem to have much of a chance against the combination of private equity investment and the government's unquenchable thirst for tax revenue. After having visited a "cannabis dispensary" in Washington state for the first time this past summer, it's really obvious that the American experiment with "legalization" is nothing like the Dutch one.

I wouldn't even call it legalization - it's more like corporatization. It was off-putting for me to see the number of commercial products, refined and concentrated - cannabis infused honey lip balm? It was like walking into a Rite Aid where they card you at the door.

In America, the state governments and private investment are creating a new tobacco industry - heavily regulated and highly taxed - instead of simply de-criminalising marijuana.

The U.S. experiment with marijuana legalization reeks of crony capitalism so of course the Democrats are on board. In a few years those stooges working for the DEA will be joined by more stooges having IRS or ATFM (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms , and Marijuana) on their business cards and the government will be working just as tirelessly as before against the small independent growers and distributors to protect those private equity investments and that sweet tax revenue.

Legalize it. Don't tax it. Don't regulate it. Get the government out of it entirely and leave it to the free market with thrived and satisfied supply and demand even when doing so was illegal.
posted by three blind mice at 3:10 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is a lot of money to be made in pot. A LOT. This means that every company, from Philip Morris to GlaxoSmithKline, wants to make it. And the second weed becomes "acceptable", it becomes big business, and we (small producers) lose all ability to exist.

Yeah, just the other day, I wanted an Upland Wheat Ale but was forced to drink Blue Moon because the existence of Coors makes it impossible for small breweries to exist.

It's terrible, because it's so fucked up what possession of this plant does to people in regards to the police. And yet, the second we legitimize this plant, we are creating an industry that will be as horrifically profitable and immoral as Monsanto's and Tyson's wildest dreams.

Your "moral" industry and profits are subsidized by the war on drugs. Without the government, you don't exist. But what's millions of ruined lives against your ability to make a buck, hmm? Your ability to maintain your lifestyle isn't worth it, and you should be forced to explain yourself to an auditorium of people who've been jailed for possession.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:46 AM on August 18, 2015 [29 favorites]


Oh don't worry Pope Guilty, we've all been jailed for possession too.

I understand how important it is to have an opinion on things, but trust me, the coming corporatization of marijuana is a lot worse than your shitty Coors analogy.

A better, and more humorous one, would be to Smokey and the Bandit anyways.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 3:55 AM on August 18, 2015


"My ability to make a buck depends on the ruination of millions of lives, but the real asshole is the person who thinks that isn't a fair tradeoff."
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:58 AM on August 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


special agent conrad uno: and we (small producers) lose all ability to exist. ... The second that changes is the the day the dream dies.

Three Blind Mice: I dunno bout that. The informal free market of growers, distributors, and potheads who sustained the industry for decades don't seem to have much of a chance against the combination of private equity investment and the government's unquenchable thirst for tax revenue.

Can you qualify this at all? You're both making a lot of "it just wont work" sort of claims without explaining why at all. And the second comment really quickly gets in to the aforementioned not-punk-rock territory.

The coors analogy is apparently shitty, but you don't qualify why.

There are all manner of products, up and down the chain of liquor down to food and even clothing. Some of it, like liquor, is very regulated. And yet there's plenty of small distilleries, breweries, boutique clothing makers, etc.

Some of these, like liquor and beer are ENORMOUS multibillion dollar industries and highly regulated.

Why is this some special snowflake case? Why are small growers and sellers just automatically fucked in such a way that it's just a given, and doesn't even warrant an explanation?

This gets really chicken little really fast, and this is exactly what i was pointing to as tiresome and unproductive. If there really is something here that makes it unique and bad i'd love to know, but it strikes me as a combination of "it'll no longer be cool" and a weird brand of exceptionalism.

Does it really not seem plausible to you that the local breweries and farmers market sort of crowd wouldn't specifically seek out locally grown small grow sustainable weed? That's ALREADY a market with dispensaries and there's already snobs! That's also a very affluent subsection of the market which has a lot of overlap with the crowd that readily drops $15 on 22oz bottles of weird local beer.

Everywhere i go i see statements along the lines of what you both just posted, and i can't for the life of me see why the opposite isn't true. If the big corporate weed at every 7-11 market is about to burst open, so is the artisanal "curated selection" local shop. The people talking about how corporations are going to "ruin" weed are your freaking market and exactly who will be shopping there.

How, exactly, are they going to be squished out when they're selling a different product to a different market, and not competing on price? No one buying a $10+ 22oz of something like pliney the elder is even looking at coors. It's not the same product. Are you really believing that they'll just be regulated out of existence? I just don't get it.
posted by emptythought at 4:17 AM on August 18, 2015 [42 favorites]


There is a lot of money to be made in pot. A LOT.

Colorado's tourism industry last year basically doubled. Turns out pot is a gateway attraction. So between the taxes and everybody coming to get high see the mountain, Colorado has made a killing.

Much like gambling, while Colorado would LOVE everybody else to leave that money on the table, they won't.

I understand how important it is to have an opinion on things, but trust me, the coming corporatization of marijuana is a lot worse than your shitty Coors analogy.

Oh, god, they're going to remake Smokey and the Bandit but this time it's going to be Ice Cube as the the Bandit and they're going to Colorado for a bunch of weed and it's going to be Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson doing East Los and Down.

Isn't it?
posted by eriko at 4:54 AM on August 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


To me, it's not that weed is supposedly different; it's just that it hasn't yet been subjected to the same process every other consumable product in America has been, because it's been illegal. If you're not into the concept of megacorps in general, then weed as it currently exists might seem like a last bastion of production free from that completely pervasive feature of modern life.

We're going to have to trade a lot of that in to end the disastrously evil war on drugs, though. I just don't see any way around it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:01 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


The real reason to fear the Venture Capitalist entry to Pot Growing is that these people are cheaters. To quote Peter Theil himself "What's their unfair advantage?". He doesn't invest in companies that can't explain how they are not going to be in a free market.

Expect lobbying to enact regulation that destroys small growers and competition.
posted by srboisvert at 5:07 AM on August 18, 2015


It's going to be a lot like the tomato industry. Everyone knows you get the best tomatoes from the farmers market, but what do they use for that tomato paste?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:24 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


When Colorado legalized pot a few years ago, I asked a friend of mine if he was going to stop buying from his long-time dealer and start going to a recreational dispensary. He said no - he wanted to support his dealer's mom-and-pop business instead of supporting Big Weed.
posted by heurtebise at 5:26 AM on August 18, 2015


(Excellent FPP title!)

I wonder, actually, what mass-market cannabis will look and feel like. Even in states with legal cannabis, it's still a niche market; not everybody consuming it is a "stoner," of course, but it's also not quite the same as mom grabbing a six-pack at the supermarket.

With national legalization, should we get there, there'll come a point where those markets are the same. Does mass-market pot stay as potent as most of the stuff on the black and gray markets now? I suspect that there will be a ton of low-potency stuff on the market, particularly if edibles are legal (which, honestly, even with known potency, is still a little dangerous).

And what will the social values be? Now we consume cannabis primarily in private. What happens when it goes public? Smoking is all but verboten in most public places in the US, so okay, we vaporize. Do we carry our own vapes and buy plant matter? Oil? Hash? And then, of course, how do we handle DUI? Without a semi-reliable test for acute intoxication, it will be a shitshow, won't it?
posted by uncleozzy at 5:32 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


From what I can see, the absolute best situation for the current small time growers and dealers is semi-legality. No harsh crackdowns means little risk of prison, but also no need to pay taxes or comply with any of the regulations that apply to normal, legal businesses. With full legalization comes turning pot into a regular commodity, more or less like liquor, which all of a sudden means that different business skills are needed and the entire framework changes.

Personally I think full legalization is the right approach (speaking here as a total non-user, but probably most of the people I know smoke it), knowing that with that comes a near-total shakeup of the industry.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:33 AM on August 18, 2015


The U.S. experiment with marijuana legalization reeks of crony capitalism so of course the Democrats are on board.

"Did you ever look at your donations? I mean, really look at them?"
posted by thelonius at 5:35 AM on August 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


"otherwise smart, thoughtful, well spoken people spouting bizarre almost chemtrails or antivaxer level weird conspiracy shit"

Paranoid stoners? Who could see that coming?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:38 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Psst, someone else made the same fifty year old joke earlier in the thread
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:41 AM on August 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


The U.S. experiment with marijuana legalization reeks of crony capitalism so of course the Democrats are on board.

The really nasty shit right now is the scumbags in Ohio who are trying to use legalization to set themselves up as a cartel.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:43 AM on August 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


> The informal free market of growers, distributors, and potheads

The what now? The criminal justice system couldn't possibly be imposing any artificial controls and constraints on this, could it.
posted by rtha at 6:20 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


A lot of grow operations are seriously detrimental to California's environment. There's a lot of growing in remote park land, which destroys wilderness areas. Streams are diverted, which alters the landscape, especially with California's drought and the huge amounts of water needed to grow. Tons of fertilizers and pesticides are used, which enter the food chain and kill off aquatic mammals and the predators that eat them.

The horror of the "war on drugs" is enough of a reason to support legalization, but from an environmental angle it would be great to be able to set standards to minimize environmental impact. I'm sure there are conscientious growers who are already concerned with this, but those who aren't have managed to cause huge amounts of damage.
posted by teponaztli at 6:23 AM on August 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


Psst, someone else made the same fifty year old joke earlier in the thread

See?!? Pot does affect memory!!!!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:34 AM on August 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I get the concerns but I feel like scaling back the war on drugs and the horrible collateral damage that it's caused is more than enough reason to back legalization.

Love the Brunner quote in the title.
posted by octothorpe at 6:34 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


With national legalization, should we get there, there'll come a point where those markets are the same. Does mass-market pot stay as potent as most of the stuff on the black and gray markets now? I suspect that there will be a ton of low-potency stuff on the market, particularly if edibles are legal (which, honestly, even with known potency, is still a little dangerous).

I know nothing about pot cultivation, but does potency depend more on the cultivation methods or the basic cultivar/strain of pot being grown? Some combination of the two? If there's a lot of fertilizer and other intensive techniques involved in growing more potent pot, I could see the strength of the product weakened by mass-market growing operations, but I'm not sure that's the case. What would be the big difference between a batch of Maui Wowie grown in secret in a National Forest vs. grown on a massive farm where there's a big concern for product consistency?
posted by LionIndex at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2015


Why do small growers have an inalienable right to make money?

I'm not generally a free market type but alot of people in this country are so I'm not really seeing the problem with having a mass market marijuana producer.

Budweiser might be looked down upon by nearly everybody but in terms of consistency of the product they have incredible technological mastery.

If some big VC funded grow-op can make high quality marijuana in controlled conditions using hydroponic techniques I don't see why they should be cut out of the market.

There will be plenty of room for organic specialty growers in the edges of the market place but with the caveat that buying some weed will no longer have the risk of incarceration and the life ruining impacts of that.

I'm sorry that the gold rush is over but the gold rush is driven almost exclusively by the illegality of the substance being grown.
posted by vuron at 6:44 AM on August 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I imagine there are going to big national 'brands' widely available, and then at the boutique (bongtique?) around the corner hand-raised artisanal strains. It could be a lot like alcohol today. All I am missing in this equation is a means and method of compensating everyone who has had some portion of their lives destroyed in this failure of a drug-war. How about a surcharge that goes into a compensation pool as a start? I'd put that in my pipe and smoke it.
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 6:52 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Psst, someone else made the same fifty year old joke earlier in the thread

See?!? Pot does affect memory!!!!!
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:55 AM on August 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I really hope the possibility of personal cultivation is preserved. It would be awful if I could buy the weed equivalent of a cheap vodka miniature at the corner store but not grow it myself.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, just looking over the thread again -

Legal weed will become no different than "animal husbandry".. it will be a commodity produced in shitty conditions with price-point as the bottom line.

I don't get it - weed already is a commodity, and it's already produced in shitty conditions with price-point as the bottom line. You know, like the stuff grown by cartels in park land. Amazingly, not every grower is a super nice couple on Mount Shasta. It really seems like there's a willful blindness to the fact that awful people like cartels actually exist and actually do contribute a huge volume of product to the market already.

Don't get me wrong, all the stuff in the article about "we're changing the world for the better" is typical Silicon Valley self-aggrandizement, and they're just doing it because they can make loads of money off of it. But then, so are many people already. It just seems a little shortsighted to see the current state of things as "the last bastion of the free market," unless you're totally OK with the shitty things that market has produced and encouraged.
posted by teponaztli at 6:58 AM on August 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I imagine there are going to big national 'brands' widely available, and then at the boutique (bongtique?) around the corner hand-raised artisanal strains.

This is already how it is in the SF Bay Area. Places like Flow Kana sell "connoisseur-grade" cannabis, host tasting parties, and offer farmer's market style meet-your-grower events.
posted by chbrooks at 7:01 AM on August 18, 2015


If anyone reads this article or this thread and is tempted to purchase marijuana-related stocks in the hopes that you will see vast profits once weed is legal, keep a few things in mind: that bubble already happened about 3 years ago; any penny stock is almost certainly a scam or a failing business going absolutely nowhere; nobody knows which .1% of those companies will actually succeed or be purchased by the big players. If you absolutely must have a piece of the pot pie, as it were, then GW Pharmaceuticals in Britain is probably your best bet. They are an actually profitable company and will likely see more business when the market opens in America. But please, please, please, don't throw away good money chasing bullshit schemes.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:01 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


it strikes me as straight up evil to want to keep this quasi legal situation going to line your pockets while it's still destroying lives and being used as an excuse to continue open season on state sanctioned murders of black people. it certainly doesn't seem like a viewpoint where one can hold it and feel morally superior to corporations. i'm sorry your dream is dying or whatever, but the trade off is fucking worth it.
posted by nadawi at 7:02 AM on August 18, 2015 [22 favorites]


1adam12: I'm automatically suspicious of anyone who's trying to make money off of something he doesn't enjoy using himself.

Big Marijuana is just like Big Anything - people get involved for the money, not necessarily because they love the product.

three blind mice: I wouldn't even call it legalization - it's more like corporatization. It was off-putting for me to see the number of commercial products, refined and concentrated - cannabis infused honey lip balm?

Exactly. Add some "essential cannabis oils" to something and you have an instant market, and an instant mark-up.

It'll be interesting to see how marketing of marijuana changes marketing of tobacco products, and even vaping, which seems like a current "cottage industry" boom that hasn't been cornered by big brands just yet (at least, this is how it looks as an outsider).

And I wonder if Craft Beers reaching a record-level double-digits of market share is a good sign for the marijuana industry, or rather the cut of the market to expect in the future.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a lot of money to be made in pot. A LOT. This means that every company, from Philip Morris to GlaxoSmithKline, wants to make it. And the second weed becomes "acceptable", it becomes big business, and we (small producers) lose all ability to exist.

This has been well-rebutted already, but, man, think about coffee, beer, and produce. Those are all dominated by huge players (Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts, Coors/InBev, and Cargill/Monsanto) and yet the same young urban hipsterish demographic that pot companies large and small will be going after support small players like Stumptown/Blue Bottle, Russian River/Alesmith, and farmers markets/CSAs.

If you're a smalltime pot grower and you think that legalization means you're inevitably going to get crushed by Big Pharma or Big Ag, you need to hire a better marketing person.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:06 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


It was off-putting for me to see the number of commercial products, refined and concentrated - cannabis infused honey lip balm? It was like walking into a Rite Aid where they card you at the door.

it might be surprising to you to learn that people in states where things are still illegal are making these types of products for themselves and/or their customers. same with vaping liquid and just about everything else you can do with concentrates.
posted by nadawi at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cannabis has a lingering association, particularly with Boomers, with a kind of "through-the-looking-glass" relevatory quality. It's the hidden but not hidden signifier of cool awareness. Anybody who's tried it with a measure of success knows it's not the scary thing depicted in mainstream American media. It allows you to categorize people and institutions into those who get it and those that are "straight." I wonder if losing such a valuable piece of the square/hip dichotomy is what's really pissing some people off.
posted by werkzeuger at 7:21 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah I can't get behind the "dream" here. It's time you start paying taxes and following regulations, and I can start growing my own.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:22 AM on August 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Psst, someone else made the same fifty year old joke earlier in the thread

Hey man I was there when they made that joke. I was listening to Jerry man, he was just playing some groovy stuff then he started playing Althea and it was really amazing and then Mickey told that joke. I was so high man. It was amazing. You should have been there. Then we went up to Portland and just hung out for a week.

What were we talking about?

Right the joke!

Yeah, I forget how it goes, but it was something like "fifty cents, same as in town." Probably costs more now. The man is always keeping us down.

Want some nachos?
posted by eriko at 7:30 AM on August 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


It was like walking into a Rite Aid where they card you at the door.

And what's wrong with that? I can buy beer, with a pretty decent selection, and cigarettes (if I smoked) at the Rite Aid down the street. Why is it some dystopian corporate nightmare if they'd also sell marijuana?

This romantic hippie rebel bullshit surrounding marijuana needs to die. Small growers making money off of the War on Drugs need to shut up.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


Honestly if some of the small grow-ops going under is the cost of undermining completely awful players like the Sinaloa cartel or Los Zetas the sooner the better.

Granted they'll just double down on other illegal drugs but the reality is the continuing drug war is just fueling not just incredibly destructive criminal justice policies in this country but basically destablizing our neighbors with endless violence and corruption because so much money can be made by the cartels in meeting out drug demands.

Trading the cartels for a VC funded "corporate cartel" isn't ideal but it's sure as hell a step forward plus you get all sorts of auxiliary benefits.
posted by vuron at 8:11 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just spent 20 minutes trying to find an old and very good comment by, I think, loquacious, that would win this thread.

It describes the spectrum of post legalization weed. Dry dusty and mostly stems cellophabe bag of ditch weed from the Mexican spices rack at the crappy corner store. Homogenized and heavily branded mild stuff from Walgreen's. Organic outdoor grown artisanal vintage Acapulco Gold from the farmers market. You get the idea.

I hope it gets regulated like beer, allowing for the coexistence of homebrewers, micro and nano growers, and cheap mass produced fungible weed.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just spent 20 minutes trying to find an old and very good comment by, I think, loquacious, that would win this thread.

this one?
posted by kliuless at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like how everyone is all "big guys will destroy small guys".

Except. The only way that can happen is to make owning seeds illegal, and only allow distribution by the big guys, and only sinsemilla, because if any seed gets out, well... I mean... How, exactly, are you going to stop a grey market?

I can understand concern about lowest common denominator in terms of business, but... WELCOME TO CAPITALISM.

Is that seriously any worse than drug wars and jail sentences? I mean, I don't *like* big corps and wouldn't really want RJ to take over, but... What, exactly, is your alternative? Legislation preventing large corps from being involved? Only certified organic weed?

I guess I'm not getting it. We either want weed to be legal or we don't. We can enact some sensible regulations for safety and sanity, yes, but in the end, we live in a capitalist society and so that's what we're gonna get. What was anyone else expecting?

Thankfully we DO have a much more diverse marketplace of things these days - we're not beholden to big beer, a thousand distilleries are blooming, and the "Maker" spirit is alive and well.
posted by symbioid at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I want to say one word to you, just one word...Lobbyists.

Marijuana is going to be regulated. This will be done by Congress (within the next decade). Congress will get their marching orders from Lobbyists. Big 'Juana will want the same thing that brewers and distillers had in the 1950's, oligopolies.

I think the comparison with micro-brews is apt, BUT people are forgetting how there were many decades after prohibition (just like marijuana is mostly still in prohibition right now) where it was illegal to brew your own beer - even though people had been doing it for thousands of years.

The biggest companies are going to try and limit the number of licenses allowed to produce. Will it work? I hope not.
posted by zyxwvut at 8:31 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


even if that comes true, it's still better than the situation we have now. i don't think it will go down like that, but even if it does, i welcome it.
posted by nadawi at 8:34 AM on August 18, 2015


If we must choose the pantheon of evils, I'm much happier with ADM Weed than Peter Thiel Weed. I prefer both to Undercutting the Redwoods Weed or 10 Kilowatt Tinfoil House Weed.
posted by ethansr at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Marijuana is going to be regulated. This will be done by Congress (within the next decade). Congress will get their marching orders from Lobbyists. Big 'Juana will want the same thing that brewers and distillers had in the 1950's, oligopolies.

I see what you're saying and I'm not disagreeing with you, but Congress always gets their marching orders from lobbyists - it's our job as informed and engaged citizens to see that we can still all have seeds and grow plants for personal consumption or sale or whatever. I think you're conflating two separate issues: MJ is illegal, and Corporatization is bad. The two are both true, but I think you overestimate the intersectionality of them. The big problem, by far, is that it's illegal. We can worry about keeping it as free as possible after we kill the WOD and the unholy war machine that it has spawned.
posted by eclectist at 9:00 AM on August 18, 2015


I know people who seem to preemptively mourning the loss of pot's counterculture aura once it's (almost inevitably) legalized in Canada. To them I say a) is your desire to think of yourself as a rebel worth peoples' lives being destroyed by racist, destructive drug laws, and b) counterculture? Virtually every schoolteacher I know smokes pot. It hasn't been a terribly subversive thing to do for decades.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:06 AM on August 18, 2015 [18 favorites]


I can understand concern about lowest common denominator in terms of business, but... WELCOME TO CAPITALISM.

This is what's so bizarre to me about libertarian comments like that of three blind mice above: it's precisely because of regulations that small growers are able to survive. In a regulation-free market they would be crushed by large-scale producers due to economies of scale.

This "free market" nonsense is exactly the opposite: a demand for protectionist policies that prop up inefficient small producers.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:29 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm not getting it. We either want weed to be legal or we don't. We can enact some sensible regulations for safety and sanity, yes, but in the end, we live in a capitalist society and so that's what we're gonna get. What was anyone else expecting?

Well, that's just it - there was a brief moment when it seemed like maybe we could have legal weed that was, like semi-legal weed, not dominated by oligopolies. (I mean, ignoring the massive issue of the cartels). It's just yet another reminder of something people dislike about modern capitalism in general.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:01 AM on August 18, 2015


This paragraph made me snort:
When a customer places an order, the driver who arrives works for a dispensary, and customers pay them in cash. This goes back to the dispensary, which then pays Eaze a lead generation fee. “We thought about how do we create a service that limits our risk,” McCarty explains. “We are a technology service provider. We don’t touch the plant.”
And the Silk Road was just a website, maaaan, they didn't touch the drugs either. Entering into an agreement with another party concerning the buying, selling, delivery or possession of a illegal substance, isn't that pretty much called conspiracy to traffic narcotics.
posted by peeedro at 10:13 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Legalize it. Don't tax it. Don't regulate it. Get the government out of it entirely and leave it to the free market with thrived and satisfied supply and demand even when doing so was illegal.

Apart from the simple fact that, as said above, regulation is exactly what allows small businesses to survive, this is an asinine notion. Leave it to the free market? Great, let me sell an ounce of pot to your twelve year old. How about I just go ahead and contribute to California's drought while growing? That's cool right, free market and all. And I guess these pesticides won't do anything bad to you. Who needs regulation?

Supply and demand of an illegal product is virtually always supported by violence at some level. Not the ridiculous libertarian notion of 'violence,' I mean actual people getting shot. Legalize it and a hell of a lot of that stuff falls right away.

Plus, y'know, taxation is a good thing. Without taxes paying for DARPA, none of us would be talking to each other. Without regulations specifying safety in products, we could be getting electrocuted by our computers.

The bottom line is that the stupid libertarian arguments about the free market are bloody stupid. Capitalism chases the biggest gap between cost and sale price that it can, and even with regulations tries to shave that opening wider and wider on both ends. There is no way in hell that big producers would, out of the goodness of their hearts, treat their employees well, respect the environment, or ensure their customers aren't being poisoned. Well, they might work on the last--but only to the point where the continued cost of being safe is less than the cost of settling lawsuits.

To say nothing of the utility in regulating THC (and other compounds) levels and telling them to the customer. Pot can be kind of a crapshoot--usually a nice joint and I'm happy for the evening. Some stuff I had recently though, one bowl and I was on my ass. Would have been nice to know ahead of time so I could titrate my dose. Guess what brings that about? Regulation.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:36 AM on August 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm also fully expecting Stone's Arrogant Stoner Ale. You're not worthy, Man!
posted by eriko at 11:38 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ever since this article, pretentious though it may be, I have wanted to see high-end edibles restaurants.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2015


oh god that would be either heaven or hell real quick

I'VE EATEN AN ENTIRE PIZZA BUT NOW I'M HUNGRIER THAN BEFORE
posted by griphus at 12:05 PM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I used to work at a place that did kind of ersatz fusion tapas/sharing plates. There was a general consensus in the kitchen that we'd make a mint if we could serve a THC-infused amuse as soon as every table sat down.

In all seriousness, I think restaurants experimenting with pot as an ingredient is coming really, really soon.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:09 PM on August 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


If Big Cannabis is going to work anything like Big Tobacco or Big Pharma, it means the Big players will do anything they can to make it as difficult as possible for Small players to do their Small business. I'm looking at the quickly growing e-cig market where Big Lobbyists are doing their darnedest to make it prohibitively expensive for small eliquid mixers to release their products.

So, I have a question about the Budweiser/craft brew analogy. Is there such a thing as Big Alcohol and has it ever tried to shut down small breweries via the government?
posted by hellphish at 12:46 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Guess what brings that about? Regulation

Again looking to e-cigs, I have 5 different bottles of liquid from 5 different manufacturers and there is absolutely zero regulation. Amazingly, all the bottles have child-proof caps, they are all labelled with the ratio of VG/PG as well as the amount of nicotine per ml. Guess what brought that about? Not regulation.
posted by hellphish at 12:50 PM on August 18, 2015


Don't tax it. Don't regulate it.

Nah, let's tax it and regulate it that sounds like a good idea.
posted by atoxyl at 12:51 PM on August 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Amazingly, all the bottles have child-proof caps, they are all labelled with the ratio of VG/PG as well as the amount of nicotine per ml. Guess what brought that about? Not regulation.

What?
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on August 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've been vaping for nearly seven years, child-proof caps were not the norm then, and are still not on every bottle today. My point was that the bottles are child-proof and well-labeled because that is what the consumers wanted, not because any authority said they had to be. I'm not certain that the PPPA applies here. All my nailpolish remover, rubbing alcohol, regular alcohol, etc are in normal, easy to open bottles.

BTW I know of a dispensary that regularly tests batches of their products and can tell you the percent of THC and CBD. I'm sure many of their patients prefer this over a dispensary that doesn't.
posted by hellphish at 1:03 PM on August 18, 2015


No, I mean regulation is the reason we have child-safety bottle norms in the first place. And ingredient lists on ingestibles. And seat belts and so on. There may very well be companies practicing this stuff voluntarily during the current Wild West days of the industry, but there's no reason to think that's entirely out of consumer demand/the goodness of their hearts rather than them trying to get ahead of the inevitable regulations that will descend on the industry.
posted by griphus at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Legalize it. Don't tax it. Don't regulate it.

Hell no. We have the opportunity to both slash spending (ending one front of the Drug War) and to increase revenues for a bankrupt state. There's no reason not to tax legalized weed.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:15 PM on August 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


The biggest companies are going to try and limit the number of licenses allowed to produce. Will it work? I hope not.

what if Monsanto finds a way to create the perfect GMO time bomb weed that can be completely controlled by the megacorps. And Frankenweed becomes the only legal strain
posted by Apocryphon at 2:23 PM on August 18, 2015


Pot can be kind of a crapshoot--usually a nice joint and I'm happy for the evening. Some stuff I had recently though, one bowl and I was on my ass. Would have been nice to know ahead of time so I could titrate my dose.

OMG for the low-quality ditch weed of my youth! Such rapture! Now I don't get a contact buzz, I get a contact I'll-be-over-here-cowering-in-the-corner.
posted by eclectist at 4:28 PM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


i miss ditch weed sometimes. i don't understand the economics of rolling this new stuff into joints...
posted by nadawi at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2015


In order for this thread to continue everyone's going to have to declare how long they've been vaping for before u comment.

Potomac Avenue: 17 months.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:28 PM on August 18, 2015


1 month and i'm loving it!
posted by nadawi at 7:00 PM on August 18, 2015


Again looking to e-cigs, I have 5 different bottles of liquid from 5 different manufacturers and there is absolutely zero regulation. Amazingly, all the bottles have child-proof caps, they are all labelled with the ratio of VG/PG as well as the amount of nicotine per ml. Guess what brought that about? Not regulation.

Yeah, they want consumers to have confidence in their products; but you are making assumptions in thinking they are against regulation.

My local vape shop has indicated they welcome and are even ready to lobby for regulations. They already don't sell to people under 19, label their bottles well, have childproof caps, and produce their nicotine juice in a certified clean room... Why then would they want regulation? So some asshat juice provider doesn't poison the populace, ruin the industries pretty good name and inspire some knee-jerk unreasonable regulation. Also, they put a bunch of expense into getting their juice made at pharmaceutical standards, and they'd prefer if their competitors did the same.
posted by el io at 7:46 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


El io, you are making assumptions about what think in regards to ecig regulation. Myself, and most people in the industry, are in favor of Sensible regulation-- Good labels, good bottles, and good manufacturing environments.* What we don't want to see is a situation where it costs $100,000 per product to get them "approved." That is exactly what the FDA was about to do. I don't remember the figure but if you had three flavors and offered them in 5 strengths, that was 15 individual products that you needed to get separately vetted. Seems crazy when all of the ingredients are already approved and regulated.

My original point was that the THC market is already getting the point where the ecig market is. If you want to buy weed with a known amount of THC and other cannabinoids, you can do that. If you want to buy an edible that has exactly 75mg of THC per piece, those are out there.
It didn't take any regulation yet, so my instinct is to wait and see what the market will produce. The ESRB is a scam and I wouldn't want to see that happen to the weed or ecig industries.

* Pharmaceutical grade clean rooms are totally overkill for a product that only requires food-grade labs. Stainless steel surfaces, gloves and hairnets are all you need. A crazy positive-pressure HEPA room just isn't needed. I can see, however, how owning one might be seen as a selling point for your more paranoid/uninformed customers.
posted by hellphish at 11:18 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Legal weed will become no different than "animal husbandry".. it will be a commodity produced in shitty conditions with price-point as the bottom line.

This is true, and yet among all the horrible, mass-produced beer there is a wide variety of locally made microbrews nearly anywhere you go in the US.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:54 PM on August 19, 2015


i miss ditch weed sometimes. i don't understand the economics of rolling this new stuff into joints...

The dispensary I went to in CA had mid and low grade as well as high grade. The low grade wasn't ditch weed exactly, but it was a lot cheaper and less potent with a lot of shake. If it were legal here I'd be growing it myself in a couple varieties, which I plan on doing in the long run anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:03 PM on August 19, 2015


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