Marijuana Panic
May 17, 2010 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Plummeting Marijuana prices cause panic in CA. In 1983, the Reagan administration launched a massive air and ground campaign to eradicate pot and lock up growers in northern California. Charley Custer, a writer and community activist, had just arrived to Humboldt County from Chicago. With the Reagan crackdown, Custer recalls, wholesale prices shot up — to as high as $5,000 a pound. That sudden and ironic windfall for those growers willing to risk prison time transformed the community.... Prices are now much less than $2,000 a pound, according to interviews with more than a dozen growers and dealers. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can't get rid of their processed pot at any price.
posted by caddis (106 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
you know who else grew pot hemp...
posted by kliuless at 2:00 PM on May 17, 2010


Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can't get rid of their processed pot at any price.

You know what MetaFilter does really well? Helping people with their problems.

Meetup?
posted by rokusan at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2010 [97 favorites]


Oh noes! Drugs too cheap! "Off their highs...."
It's bemusing to see Econ 101 dismantle the Drug War.

Meanwhile, how'd the tabloids miss this headline?

Too Much Marijuana Causes Instability And Anxiety
posted by chavenet at 2:06 PM on May 17, 2010 [20 favorites]


Think about how much this will help reduce violence south of the border. There's nothing intrinsically expensive about marijuana, there's not really any reason why it would be more expensive in an unregulated market then (un-taxed) cigarettes.
posted by delmoi at 2:07 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


This market would be much more efficient if it was legal. Just saying.

(omg systemic risk pot price panics spillover runs on banks sovereign defaults lost generations)
posted by grobstein at 2:08 PM on May 17, 2010


It's bemusing to see Econ 101 dismantle the Drug War.

More like obvious result of dismantling the drug war having an economic result.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on May 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


FINALLY, I can get some good rope.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:08 PM on May 17, 2010 [26 favorites]


Bring it on.
posted by mek at 2:09 PM on May 17, 2010


Heard this on NPR too. Thing is, if these growers saved up they could have done like this guy in Oregon: Paul Stanford. He has introduced the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act.

Full text of the law here.

I've also heard anecdotal stories that he has around $300,000 in growing equipment ready to go the day the law passes to corner the new legal market.
posted by wcfields at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2010


I heard an interesting bit on NPR the other day where the author of a new book on prohibition stated that the income tax was brought in to offset a loss in excise tax revenues from alcohol. Taxing pot would be far more addictive to the CA government that pot itself could ever be.
posted by GuyZero at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why do you need growing equipment if it's legal. Just drop some seeds on the ground, you don't need grow lamps, etc, if it's outside.
posted by empath at 2:11 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


jesus christ... and people are confused why this is happening? legalize drugs and the prices plummet... go fucking figure
posted by nathancaswell at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do you need growing equipment if it's legal.

Per the article, apparently people prefer to buy the indoor stuff and will pay more for it.
posted by GuyZero at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2010


Per the article, apparently people prefer to buy the indoor stuff and will pay more for it.

hydroponics are a beautiful thing
posted by nathancaswell at 2:13 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can't get rid of their processed pot at any price.

Airlift it to Indiana.

I happened to be visiting a good friend recently and I was gobsmacked at what he was paying for an ounce.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:14 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dave's not here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:14 PM on May 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


"We arrested a man who had … 800 pounds of processed," Allman says. "Eight hundred pounds of processed. And we asked him: 'What are you going to do with 800 pounds of processed?' And he said, 'I don't know.'"

make a GIANT FUCKING BROWNIE, duh
posted by nathancaswell at 2:14 PM on May 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


intrinsically expensive

Bit of an Econ. 101 derail here, but I'm not sure the concept of "intrinsic expense," if applied to any given product (not just grass), is really coherent: after all, the price of a given product in a given market seems to depend almost entirely on what the market will bear. Hence designer sunglasses that cost a dollar to manufacture in China sell for $500 in L.A., etc. Products are not priced according to some Platonic table of intrinsic cost or worth; they're priced according to what people are willing to pay.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:15 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wish this was a problem in Mid-MO...

;)
posted by schyler523 at 2:15 PM on May 17, 2010


Maybe they should start manufacturing lsd instead?
posted by empath at 2:16 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


'What are you going to do with 800 pounds of processed?'

Time-travel back to the 70's and film a few Cheech & Chong movies.
posted by GuyZero at 2:17 PM on May 17, 2010


Luckily, pot is also a cure for panic and anxiety.
posted by klangklangston at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


The prices here are pretty funny to me, though, since back when I was dealing about ten years ago, the price we bought a pound at was $900. No doubt the quality was higher for that $5000 a pound shit, but damn.
posted by klangklangston at 2:21 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what is meant by "intrinsic price" is the perfect competition ideal of price = marginal cost. Designer sunglasses are only able to sell for over their dollar manufacturing price because there is not perfect competition for those sunglasses (i.e., trademark laws give the manufacturer a monopoly on a particular brand/style of glasses).
posted by Pyry at 2:22 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bit of an Econ. 101 derail here, but I'm not sure the concept of "intrinsic expense," if applied to any given product (not just grass), is really coherent: after all, the price of a given product in a given market seems to depend almost entirely on what the market will bear. Hence designer sunglasses that cost a dollar to manufacture in China sell for $500 in L.A., etc. Products are not priced according to some Platonic table of intrinsic cost or worth; they're priced according to what people are willing to pay.

"Intrinsic expense" as invoked by delmoi above is about the social costs associated with producing a good. These can be somewhat inflexible. For example, space shuttles are intrinsically expensive. They can't be made cheaply. It's possible to imagine worlds in which you can buy space shuttles cheaply (someone made too many space shuttles!), but we could coherently say that those space shuttles were being traded below cost.

Intrinsic expense or cost is not the same thing as intrinsic value, which Econ 101 tends to argue is a meaningless concept.
posted by grobstein at 2:23 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well I hope it gets intrinsically less expensive here in Chicago.
posted by Max Power at 2:27 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do you need growing equipment if it's legal.

From the article:

Indoor-grown marijuana is increasingly favored by dispensaries and consumers for its looks, consistence and potency. It costs more to produce than pot grown under the sun, but commands as much as double the price.
posted by melt away at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2010


Three words guaranteed to put a smile on my face:

Cheap quality weed.
posted by angrycat at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do you need growing equipment if it's legal. Just drop some seeds on the ground, you don't need grow lamps, etc, if it's outside.

I suspect you can manipulate the growth of the plants and the THC content more easily indoors.
posted by dilettante at 2:30 PM on May 17, 2010


I was listening to the Diane Rehm show last week and she had a couple of guests on talking about the drug war. Somebody called in talking about legalization and specifically mentioned that the illicitness was fueling the gangs, etc.

One of the guests actually compared legalizing pot to legalizing murder or legalizing selling enriched uranium. Now, I've never actually smoked pot but I'm pretty sure it's slightly different from actually murdering somebody. The fact that Diane Rehm didn't call out the guest on that bullshit was, well, bullshit.
posted by kmz at 2:30 PM on May 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


Some googling taught me that the running price of marihuana in the Netherlands is 1 728 dollar per pound in some places, slightly higher in others.
Maybe interesting datapoint.
posted by joost de vries at 2:33 PM on May 17, 2010


So essentially what's happened with every other agricultural crop this last decade is happening to weed: Everyone wants highly specialized forms of the crop, pushing boutique prices sky-high, while prices for lower grade produce languish.

Well, maybe not exactly. More like everyone who ate Spam now can afford country ham -- or are willing to pay for it.

So that means that these small-time growers are about to be pushed aside by a consolidating medical weed industry, and then if/when legalization comes, by the larger agricultural companies. Yet again, the small farmer gets the shank.
posted by dw at 2:35 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Diane Rehm is usually pretty good at calling people out.

I'm curious--if marijuana were legal and very cheap, would your usage increase, decrease, or stay the same?
posted by mecran01 at 2:35 PM on May 17, 2010


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?
posted by Nelson at 2:37 PM on May 17, 2010


kliuless - the US Gov't?

From your link: the industrial hemp plant -- with its minuscule levels of the chemical that gives marijuana its kick -- has remained illegal to cultivate in the United States. -- it looks like things are slowly changing. From that wiki link:
Vermont and North Dakota have passed laws enabling hemp licensure. Both states are waiting for permission to grow hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Currently, North Dakota representatives are pursuing legal measures to force DEA approval. Oregon has licensed industrial hemp as of August, 2009.
Too bad "recreational" hemp has poor fibre quality (according to Wikipedia), or that surplus could be the start of a second surge of Hemp for Victory (wiki).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:38 PM on May 17, 2010


Apparently the weeding-out process has begun...
posted by jim in austin at 2:38 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


In Appalachia, "green lightning" is also a factor in the local economy.
posted by longsleeves at 2:39 PM on May 17, 2010


Not surprisingly, the article sort of misses the point but is quick with the pot is funny, right man? anecdotes.

A better article would state the wholesale price of marijuana has plummeted. This can be attributed to the way California regulates marijuana which leaves the broker (middleman if you will) with the largest burden (transportation and retail sales). This happens in beer sales which is highly regulated at the distribution level ... there's no way to really create an effective vertical market. A few distributors squeeze both the source and the retail outlet. Since the retail side is also fragmented you don't really have the Wal-Mart of booze pushing prices down for the consumers ... which isn't entirely true since Wal-Mart does sell beer and liquor where it can, but this is why textbooks never quite mirror reality.

In any case there's a lot less stigma in growing marijuana. No one really needs to know you grow, it is fairly easy to conceal and it is not that hard to find a buyer if you're wanting to earn $7-10k tax free a year by keeping a couple of lights on in the basement.

Are consumer prices going down at all in California? When I was last there I remember the legal shops were still selling pretty much at street prices ($50-60), though I had friends that assured me if you were a regular and didn't mind the hassle of going old school, you could definitely do better than a medicinal shop.
posted by geoff. at 2:40 PM on May 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


make a GIANT FUCKING BROWNIE, duh

That's a big twinkie.
posted by zarq at 2:41 PM on May 17, 2010


Why do you need growing equipment if it's legal.

Yeah. And what's with all those hothouses full of tomatoes, anyway?

Nothing but a scam by Big Glass to dupe the American people.
posted by rokusan at 2:43 PM on May 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

webehigh.com
offers prices & legalization status worldwide. Having said that, some prices seem completely out of whack.
posted by gman at 2:44 PM on May 17, 2010


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

Here's another one.
posted by longsleeves at 2:45 PM on May 17, 2010


Go to Staten Island and sell for $3000, then buy 40 shrooms, then go to Coney Island and hope the cops don't chase you.
posted by furtive at 2:45 PM on May 17, 2010 [14 favorites]


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

I don't have much on the ground experience with drug prices, so I can't speak directly to the reliability of the numbers, but the UN ODCP publishes street prices [pdf] from a wide swath of countries covering 1990-2007. According to the report, in 2007 wholesale marijuana cost between $338 and $44,200 per kilogram in the US, with $2,000 per kilogram being typical. That basically agrees with the numbers from the FPP. Drug reports for other years are available here.
posted by jedicus at 2:46 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


above link out of date, sorry.
posted by longsleeves at 2:47 PM on May 17, 2010


I can't smoke anymore :(

I have been having for the past year or 2 this weird side effect of pain in my muscle on the left side of my chest after smoking (yes, it's muscle not heart attacky type pain) however, I am morbidly obese, and so any type of pain like that does make me nervous. Which of course, doesn't help the "set".

So I've tried off and on, and have decided I can't do it, because it's just not really enjoyable :( Even tried a vaporizer, thinking that might help, but no dice...

I'm trying to figure out what it might be, and I have a theory regarding it. I read somewhere that certain cannabanoids can interfere with some people's endogenous opioid systems (not sure if it was production or the receptors or what), and I'm hazarding a guess that's what's happening with me. Don't know why I never had it as an issue before.

Between that and my blood pressure issues (which if I'm gonna smoke I should take my blood pressure pills), I have to "say no" which totally bites.

/end derail

That said, I'm glad it's driving the price down, then though -- what about the taxes? They won't be able to make as much as they thought they would in taxes. Would we have to prop up the growers w/subsidies? Wouldn't that destroy the whole point deregulating/legalizing in order to tax?
posted by symbioid at 2:54 PM on May 17, 2010


Four decades after Richard Nixon declared war on drugs, more Americans use them and drug-related violence has gotten worse. This is the first in an occasional series of reports by The Associated Press examining why the drug war failed and why the U.S. and Mexico continue to fight a losing battle.

[snip] "To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven't made any difference is ridiculous," Walters said. "It destroys everything we've done. It's saying all the people involved in law enforcment, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It's saying all these people's work is misguided."[/snip]
And they say drug users are the ones who have trouble with reality.
posted by rtha at 3:02 PM on May 17, 2010 [18 favorites]


space shuttles are intrinsically expensive. They can't be made cheaply.

Fair enough, but few items are obviously this way, that is few items are obviously "intrinsically expensive" in terms of parts, labor, and technology. I mean I understand why a car or house is more expensive than a scooter or mousetrap, but given the wide price ranges in houses and cars there are many indications that "intrinsic cost" is a negligible factor in the pricing of many (most?) products. Obviously most mass-produced items are not this way, and in the case of agricultural plant products like marijuana, tobacco, tomatoes, or okra, the cost is not hard to figure: I think we all understand that legalization would force the price of marijuana down. But that's a market adjustment, so the discussion of intrinsic or extrinsic is largely besides the point I would think.

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:03 PM on May 17, 2010


"Now, I've never actually smoked pot but I'm pretty sure it's slightly different from actually murdering somebody."

[after Dewey accidentally barges in a room filled with smoke and groupies]
Sam: [coughs] Get outta here, Dewey!
Dewey Cox: What are y'all doin' in here?
Sam: We're smoking reefer and you don't want no part of this shit.
Dewey Cox: You're smoking *reefers*?
Sam: Yeah, 'course we are; can't you smell it?
Dewey Cox: No, Sam. I can't.
Reefer Girl: Come on, Dewey! Join the party!
[takes a hit off a joint]
Sam: No, Dewey, you don't want this. Get outta here!
Dewey Cox: You know what, I don't want no hangover. I can't get no hangover.
Sam: It doesn't give you a hangover!
Dewey Cox: Wha-I get addicted to it or something?
Sam: It's not habit-forming!
Dewey Cox: Oh, okay... well, I don't know... I don't want to overdose on it.
Sam: You can't OD on it!
Dewey Cox: It's not gonna make me wanna have sex, is it?
Sam: It makes sex even better!
Dewey Cox: Sounds kind of expensive.
Sam: It's the cheapest drug there is.
Dewey Cox: [at a loss and out of excuses] Hmm.
Sam: You don't want it!
Dewey Cox: I think I kinda want it.
Sam: Okay, but just this once. Come on in.
posted by klangklangston at 3:04 PM on May 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


"We arrested a man who had … 800 pounds of processed," Allman says. "Eight hundred pounds of processed. And we asked him: 'What are you going to do with 800 pounds of processed?' And he said, 'I don't know.'"

I'm picturing a door.

It's an unassuming door, on the side of a nondescript building.

Marijuana advocates are led before it and told that the nearly religious experience to follow is a prize for having been patient on the whole legalization issue. And then, the door is thrown open. Inside, illuminated by a brilliant white light are giant bales of green sticky pot stacked high. The pungent scent hits them like a hammer.

Ode to Joy blasts rapturously from of hidden speakers.

When they are revived later, their thoughts on the experience are documented for posterity.
posted by quin at 3:07 PM on May 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm curious--if marijuana were legal and very cheap, would your usage increase, decrease, or stay the same?

The same. As it is, more than a taste every now and then only serves to remind me that my life is just a soap bubble on the rim of a vast mathematical vortex, swirling down a drain into a void where effort is meaningless and no time ever actually passes.
posted by hermitosis at 3:09 PM on May 17, 2010 [17 favorites]


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

Sure thing. $40/eighth-ounce.

Now MetaFilter meets your requirements.
posted by hippybear at 3:11 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe Willie Nelson could organize another Farm Aid concert? "Farm Aid: Keep America growing!"
posted by iviken at 3:13 PM on May 17, 2010


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

$400-500 / ounce for good stuff in NYC. From, um, what I hear anyway.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2010


metafilter: a soap bubble on the rim of a vast mathematical vortex, swirling down a drain into a void where effort is meaningless and no time ever actually passes.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2010


The wholesale price of cocaine has also dropped like a rock.
posted by K.P. at 3:15 PM on May 17, 2010


Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

There aren't cut and dry prices, btw... it's like buying wine you can spend $8 or $80...
posted by nathancaswell at 3:16 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


That said, I'm glad it's driving the price down, then though -- what about the taxes? They won't be able to make as much as they thought they would in taxes. Would we have to prop up the growers w/subsidies? Wouldn't that destroy the whole point deregulating/legalizing in order to tax?

There's no way you can gauge the price of something that is taxed and/or regulated with something that isn't. The primary reason weed prices got so high in the first place is because of the risk. Take away the risk, and the market changes. This is a good thing. Nobody should have to pay black market prices for this stuff anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:28 PM on May 17, 2010


"prohibition stated that the income tax was brought in to offset a loss in excise tax revenues from alcohol."

I actually just read something similar in the Smithsonian this month ... although it is slightly different (the income tax came first, and that made Prohibition feasible).

From their article on Prohibition:
(This) was followed by enactment of a national income tax authorized by the recently ratified 16th Amendment. Until 1913, the federal government had depended on liquor taxes for as much as 40 percent of its annual revenue. “The chief cry against national Prohibition,” the ASL’s executive committee said in a policy statement that April, “has been that the government must have the revenue.” But with an income tax replacing the levy on liquor, that argument evaporated, and the ASL could move beyond its piecemeal approach and declare its new goal: “National Prohibition, [to] be secured through the adoption of a Constitutional Amendment.”
posted by kanewai at 3:29 PM on May 17, 2010


Its a drug on the market....
posted by warbaby at 3:31 PM on May 17, 2010


Between that and my blood pressure issues (which if I'm gonna smoke I should take my blood pressure pills), I have to "say no" which totally bites.

Just FYI, cannabis lowers your blood pressure (but increases your heart rate). Don't know why it would induce muscle pain in your chest. Maybe you're having lung issues with the smoke? Do you have the same issues when you eat it?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:36 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually if the pot growers were smart, that would sniff the wind and get on the organic bandwagon now.

See, right now people are just looking for the best high, but once it gets legalized, then everyone in their cousin is going to be toking up.

That's when you have to differentiate, and most of us middle-class suburbanites are already accustomed to thinking organic farm-raised stuff is the best.

It shouldn't take too much effort to cast marijuana grown indoors as somehow less desirable than stuff grown out in a field fertilized by free-range cows and whatnot.

The profit potential is unlimited.
posted by BeReasonable at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


If smoking marijuana leads one on to heavier drug use does this mean that plummeting marijuana prices will make my smack habit more affordable?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:57 PM on May 17, 2010


> BeReasonable: The profit potential is unlimited.

Just you wait until the authorities clamp down on that odd green & white bar code on the side of the Formula One car sponsored by Big Weed.
posted by chavenet at 4:11 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, right now people are just looking for the best high, but once it gets legalized, then everyone in their cousin is going to be toking up.

I really don't think that's the case. I think if we had full legalization tomorrow, there would be a spike in interest for a while, but then use rates would settle down again, maybe to a little bit higher than we're seeing now, but not "everyone and their cousin". I don't think it will ever hit the level of alcohol use, for example. It's just too wildly variable in its effects: some people find it unpleasantly disorienting, some get paranoid or anxious, and some just find it boring. I'm not in any of those categories, but I've heard those complaints too often. On the other hand, with a consistent product and a lot of marketing money, who knows?
posted by vibrotronica at 4:13 PM on May 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


prices - 60-100/ounce for shwag, 60-100/quarter for kind, 120-inf/quarter for hydro
posted by nadawi at 4:24 PM on May 17, 2010


Waiting here for my state to make medical legal. I've discovered that it works well to combat nerve pain. Unfortunately, being illegal and all, I abstain. But still - makes no sense that I can take a highly addictive opioid, mixed with a drug that is, at high levels, damaging to my liver, with just a doctor's script, yet can't get a drug that works better, with less side effects, the same way?
posted by strixus at 4:26 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


also - the only reason that weed is a gateway drug is because you have to buy it from a drug dealer. i would have never done acid or pills if i bought my weed from the corner store instead of from the basement of a guy who wanted me to buy more expensive stuff.
posted by nadawi at 4:26 PM on May 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


turgid you're looking for the cross-price elasticity of demand. Not sure what the data says.
posted by stratastar at 4:27 PM on May 17, 2010


Also - I think if the tobacco companies had any sense they'd throw money behind legalization, and corner the market. I mean - I can't count how many tobacco fields I've seen in NC and elsewhere that, between the rows, had weed planted.
posted by strixus at 4:28 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]




As it is, more than a taste every now and then only serves to remind me that my life is just a soap bubble on the rim of a vast mathematical vortex, swirling down a drain into a void where effort is meaningless and no time ever actually passes.

hermitosis, please stop trying to access my mod panel, mmkay?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:09 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding hydro vs. outdoor vis-à-vis current market prices: When (yes, when!) growing becomes legal, I envision serious cannabis connoisseurs creating demand for outdoor cultivation, and I think the price will rise to reflect this preference. Similar to grapes, the qualities of cannabis derive quite a bit from terroir. Back before hydro was commonplace, there was a reason people sought out "Maui Wowie" and "Puna Gold" - Hawaii has a cooperative climate, the right light cycles, and all that volcanic goodness in the soil.

Hydro gives growers the ability to cross strains and isolate certain qualities in the weed's appearance, taste, and effects, but I hypothesize that hydro will become commodity chronic. Being able to carefully control outcomes during hydroponic production will cause it to become the Budweiser and Coors of the weed world; sniffing dismissively at your working class chronic will become the province of the pot poseur (except when smoking ironically).

Upsides and down, as with all things.
posted by krippledkonscious at 5:17 PM on May 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Golly gosh, if it gets much more legal ([ahem] less illegal), and prices get much lower, could we end up seeing gov't subsidies for indoor farmers? I'm dreaming, but I imagine I'd have to take a few weeks of vacation just so I could sit home and listen to Rush, Hannity, Savage, & Levin's heads explode on the air.

And if wholesale is < $15 per 1/8 oz., why is retail still $50-60? I guess because it's still a risky business until it's really really legal.
posted by Lukenlogs at 5:27 PM on May 17, 2010


Actually if the pot growers were smart, that would sniff the wind and get on the organic bandwagon now.

Some chronic early-adopters I know only/preferably smoke organic dope. The first dispensary a friend of mine visited on the day he got his Doctor's Recommendation (still can't prescribe this shit out here; can only recommend) sold strictly organic pot. He said it was kind of a dumpy affair and that the selection was not up to expectations—while the weed was really excellent, there was only one or two kinds available. He preferred being able to choose between strains, specify indica or sativa (or hybrid), and really just wanted to be confronted with a wall of jars. So he went down the street to the next (non-organic) place, and voila! 30 strains in gigantic jars and beautiful people there to make recommendations, offer advice, and weigh you out.

As for the prices going way down, the buddy doesn't report much of any change on the retail end of things. It's still pretty much ~60-70/eighth in the stores, but rumor has it if you go hit up the street dealer you can score leftovers at a price and/or volume discount. (Someone told me recently that street dealers in CA just sell the leftovers that growers can't pass off to dispensaries. Rang true.)
posted by carsonb at 5:46 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Prices are now much less than $2,000 a pound, according to interviews with more than a dozen growers and dealers. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can't get rid of their processed pot at any price.

Well, you can (and I do) look at that like a good thing, as less artificial profit motive for criminals. The same fact could easily be spun as "OMG now your kids could easily afford to be smoking the pot on their allowances!" That is, the war on drugs kept the drugs out of economic reach of the chilllllldren.
posted by ctmf at 5:55 PM on May 17, 2010


I'd like to get Rush Limbaugh high.

And then kick him in the nuts. Repeatedly.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:13 PM on May 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's more like it. Who told me that you Yankees are paying >$400/oz?
posted by randomyahoo at 6:21 PM on May 17, 2010


Thoughtcrime: "Just FYI, cannabis lowers your blood pressure (but increases your heart rate). Don't know why it would induce muscle pain in your chest. Maybe you're having lung issues with the smoke? Do you have the same issues when you eat it?"

Well the heartrate increase is what I'm noticing, I think. But, the chest pain very definitely an outside muscle, almost like a knot. It's not the smoke, because I tried with a vaporizer and had hoped that would stop it, but it was just as bad.

Never had luck eating it, or if I did, I didn't find the effects to be up my alley... The only time I think I *may* have gotten an effect was a brownie at a show years ago. I really hope I can find that article, because I'm pretty sure it said something about endogenous opioid system interference in some people (or was it rats?), and that's the only explanation I can think of. Thanks for the response/queries.
posted by symbioid at 6:29 PM on May 17, 2010


Are consumer prices going down at all in California? When I was last there I remember the legal shops were still selling pretty much at street prices ($50-60), though I had friends that assured me if you were a regular and didn't mind the hassle of going old school, you could definitely do better than a medicinal shop.

Consumer prices are going down. One of my dealers just dropped his prices from 60/110/200/350 to 55/100/175/300.

That's more like it. Who told me that you Yankees are paying >$400/oz?

Not lots, but I'd bet many people in NYC, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco do. I know several dealers in SF who charge $400+ per ounce.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:20 PM on May 17, 2010


That said, I'm glad it's driving the price down, then though -- what about the taxes? They won't be able to make as much as they thought they would in taxes.

I assume the major source of revenue would be an excise tax, like that on cigarettes and alcohol, which is a flat rate unaffected by the pre-tax price.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 7:44 PM on May 17, 2010


symbioid: “Would we have to prop up the growers w/subsidies?

What? We're barely approaching the point of legalization — that is, not sending guys with guns and body armor after growers — I can't possibly imagine any sane argument for subsidizing them in any situation. That's pretty farfetched.

If legalization happens, and it's a far from sure thing although I've begun to think I might actually see it in my lifetime, it'll be piecemeal. As it progresses, there will be room for small growers. But as big markets open up it'll probably go the same way tobacco farming did — there's nothing stopping you from growing your own tobacco, but I don't know any smokers who do it. It's easier to go down to the 7-Eleven and buy a pack of Marlboros.

I'm sure some sort of cottage / boutique industry will stick around, but there will doubtless be mass-market weed as well, just like there's mass-market beer in addition to micro and home brews.

I am completely in favor of legalization but my strong suspicion is that in the steady-state post-legalization environment, most of the people currently doing the highly-profitable, which is to say risky and illegal (hence the high margins), jobs in the marijuana supply chain will have moved on to some other illegal activities. Once it's legal, those profits will evaporate. Some dude standing on a street corner won't be able to compete with 7-Eleven, which has a heavily optimized distribution network and accepts credit cards and also lets you pick up a quart of chocolate milk and a few taquitos in the same transaction as your weed. Those profit margins and tolerance for risk, which are presumably what led the guy on the corner into the weed-selling business, will lead him right out of selling weed (and perhaps into something that's still illegal, with a comparable risk/reward ratio) once it's legal — unless he can leverage his weed-selling experience in the legalized market in some more-profitable way. (I forsee a boom in "Marijuana Distribution and Marketing Consultants.")

The one thing that would keep the black market in business would be a high tax regime; if the taxes were so high that they outweighed the economies of scale and other efficiency improvements that you get from moving into the 'white market,' then people might just continue to go to their dealer rather than buy it legally. Some people do this with cigarettes already — high-tax areas like NYC are constantly dealing with cigarettes smuggled in from low-tax areas like Indian reservations or tobacco states. So there's a limit to what tax rate the state can put on weed and capture much in the way of income.

However, the big question with legalization — true, complete legalization — is how much demand it would create. I disagree with others who say that it wouldn't change demand; I think that there would be a huge initial spike and a continued increased demand, but only if the legalization was complete, not just reduced criminalization. There are a lot of people (and I consider myself in this group) who aren't willing to risk even a misdemeanor or ticketable offense in order to smoke weed, or who work at jobs that drug test. I think these people are generally underrepresented in discussions about legalization. It might be that there are enough people in this group — people who wouldn't consider going to a drug dealer and aren't going to take up weed-growing as a hobby — that even if the tax rate were so high that legal weed cost more than it did on the black market, there would still be substantial sales and tax revenue.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:02 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


prices in Vancouver - $30/eighth, $50/quarter, $90/half-o, 140$/o

that's roughly speaking, and for a quality delivery service where they know your name and will step in for a beer and a chat. there's cheaper, quicker delivery services but ... hell, I like to support small business, you know?
posted by mannequito at 8:05 PM on May 17, 2010


I'm curious--if marijuana were legal and very cheap, would your usage increase, decrease, or stay the same?

As a square (don't like breaking the law) and a cheapskate, I would absolutely increase my usage from around none per year to every so often.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:50 PM on May 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Prices in Sydney - $50/eighth, $110 quarter, 220 half and 310 ounce...
posted by Inplace at 10:26 PM on May 17, 2010


I recently saw a talk by Nils Gilman on Deviant Globalization. One of the more compelling points of the talk was that illicit markets often have very large upsides to them. The tend to shift wealth from the well-to-do to the not-so-well-to-do. In Mexico, for example, illicit drugs are the third largest industry in Mexico in terms of employment after tourism and agriculture. Where America to suddenly legalize all drugs the results would be devastating if not catastrophic.

The demand, coupled with the risk of supply (which was not a variable in my Econ 101 class) was what produced the high prices. As the risk diminishes, so does the price. In fact, the risk turns out to be the most important factor in determining price. So much more so than either supply or demand. A huge shift in risk is enough to completely change the market, with chaotic results.

It looks like we are starting to see this on a small scale in California.

I am a big fan of legalizing marijuana, but this talk scared me a little bit. It should be done, but we need to do this carefully and above all, slowly.
posted by chemoboy at 10:35 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, right now people are just looking for the best high, but once it gets legalized, then everyone in their cousin is going to be toking up.

I think it's ridiculous that it is illegal to grow, sell, or smoke marijuana, yet I have never, and will never, use. Maybe it's because I don't have any cousins?

Are there any websites with reliable street price data for marijuana?

Regardless of whether you're asking about pounds or ounces, I imagine that most MeFites will tell you it's twenty bucks, same as in town.
posted by tzikeh at 10:40 PM on May 17, 2010


I am completely in favor of legalization but my strong suspicion is that in the steady-state post-legalization environment, most of the people currently doing the highly-profitable, which is to say risky and illegal (hence the high margins), jobs in the marijuana supply chain will have moved on to some other illegal activities.

Maybe so, but most of the people I know at that level got into it originally so they could pay for their own stash. I can't see most of these people being attracted to other illicit markets where they don't have a personal interest, and I could easily see most of them getting involved in the above-board side, as long as you could make a living at it. But there are plenty of people involved who are pretty much just runners and mobsters, and they won't be the ones setting up coffee shops if it's legalized. Then again, we could go back to the '20s and be having a similar conversation about alcohol. It's still not a compelling enough reason to keep it illegal.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:14 PM on May 17, 2010


Toronto $180-220 ounce depending on strain for quality stuff. I haven't seen schwag, ever.
posted by saucysault at 11:17 PM on May 17, 2010


I am a big fan of legalizing marijuana, but this talk scared me a little bit. It should be done, but we need to do this carefully and above all, slowly.

If the full-out Drug War no longer completely engulfed major parts of Mexico, I bet their economy would improve considerably. Yes, it should be done right, but good lord it needs to be done soon, and we shouldn't waste too much time.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:18 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The demand, coupled with the risk of supply (which was not a variable in my Econ 101 class) was what produced the high prices. As the risk diminishes, so does the price. In fact, the risk turns out to be the most important factor in determining price. So much more so than either supply or demand. A huge shift in risk is enough to completely change the market, with chaotic results.

By the way, just because prices drop because of risk, that's not the end of the story. If the market goes above board, the state recaptures a lot more of the revenue through taxation in a regulated market. As it is, money from black markets is like tourist money, because you can only capture it at the retail level. It's hard to build an economy on tourist money, but it's not that hard to build an economy on agriculture- particularly specialized, exotic agriculture appealing to high-dollar markets. It will still be more expensive than tobacco, at least the good stuff. And the state will no longer have to spend all that money trying to get rid of it.

Look at me talk. It better happen, all I can say.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:24 PM on May 17, 2010


There is a still a long way to go before we get any sort of sane system. Just like tobacco the first thing that the big players will try to do is lock out the competition through some sort of expensive mandatory licensing system. You can grow your own tobacco, but you can't sell it without paying the piper.

I am already seeing this in Colorado, where they are requiring all dispensaries to pay for a 50k license. I have also seen some energy going towards a scheme where it will still be illegal to grow your own and the pharmaceutical companies or some other licensed and inspected entity will be the only legal source, it seems this way in Arizona already, unless it has changed recently.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:48 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wholesale prices for this falls crop in Mendocino. Lucky to get 1500 a lb. Word is possibly as low as 1200 a lb wholesale. It's a buyers market. Many people in N. California growing their max 6 mature 12 immature plants (no verification or enforcement really as long as you are low key) has flooded the market. They are giving medical marijuana cards out like candy.
posted by Muirwylde at 2:10 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does this mean that the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were wrong?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:58 AM on May 18, 2010


@psycho-alchemy: Even if you can't buy it from anyone other than a large company, it's still a plant that grows easier than almost anything else in your garden. It's so easy that your neighbors will be giving the stuff away by the grocery bag full, though don't expect the top colas.

A decent plant can keep a couple-puffs-a-couple-times-a-week smoker set for *years*. Except for the high (hah) end of the market, there's not really much money to be made here. If they ever legalize, I predict a great couple of years for your local garden center and then nothing.

I'd also predict an uptick in the number of people who do it a few times a year, just because they'd be able to get some without having to ask their coworkers for it. I know a *lot* of people who don't smoke because they don't know who to ask. They're terrified of CPS taking their kids away and don't want to be known as anything but a fine, upstanding citizen. It's an essentially unenforced $50 fine in my town and has been for decades, but it's still not something many adults are doing. Getting promoted can be hard once people think you're stupid and lazy. The social stigma is a greater barrier to consumption than the legal barrier in my world.

Which is sad, because let me tell you, raising kids is a lot easier when you're just as happy as they are to spend an afternoon looking at ants, watching anime, reading irritatingly simplistic books, riding bikes, discussing the philosophical ramifications of quantum mechanics and seeking out candy LIKE A FUCKING FIEND.
posted by pjaust at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


A major bust in northern Rowan County helped detectives keep about $20 million in marijuana off the streets.

wonder if they've adjusted for inflation/devaluation?
posted by msconduct at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2010


msconduct - i never fucking trust the dollar value the cops give for drugs.

even at the highest street price multiplied by value, i find they inflate waaaaaaaaaay higher than anything actually is. but it sure sounds nice to say you got x amount of pot off the streets.

such bullshit.
posted by symbioid at 8:56 AM on May 18, 2010


I forget if it was here in Philly or in NYC that the cops were saying it was $100 per joint.

When I heard that, I immediately thought of Ricky from Trailer Park Boys, smoking like a twelve paper or something joint that was like half a foot long.
posted by angrycat at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Prices in Sydney - $50/eighth, $110 quarter, 220 half

You are stoned.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:34 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


$100 a joint. Man. Think about it. Who really believes that? You'd have to be rich or really desperate. I think it's even cheaper than that in prison.

That's why the Drug War has failed so badly in the eyes of a lot of people, because there is a pattern of deliberate deception which props it up. I'm sure some people believe that $100 price, but some people believe anything.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:35 AM on May 18, 2010


As far as change in consumption goes...I'm guessing a lot of people here are in their twenties. Being more than twice as old, I've noticed that at least half of us got bored with weed after their twenties. Entirely anecdotal. Could just be me.
posted by kozad at 10:07 AM on May 18, 2010


You are not alone.

I am, however reminded of this item from the National Lampoon Radio Hour (at least my best recollection of it):
And in other news, police near the University seized two ounces of marijuana, with a street value of half a million dollars.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:11 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


FINALLY, I can get some good rope.

I know! As a former boy scout, I need to spend hours and hours with -real rope- relearning my knot skills. (They're very in demand these days, I'm told!)
posted by Twang at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2010


As far as change in consumption goes...I'm guessing a lot of people here are in their twenties. Being more than twice as old, I've noticed that at least half of us got bored with weed after their twenties. Entirely anecdotal. Could just be me.

Being twice that old as well, I notice that some people take to it and some people enjoy it in their youth. I am one of those who takes to it. I'm not bored with it, but some people I know moved on from it. YMMV.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:45 PM on May 18, 2010


Being ~180 times as old, I notice that some people are destined to form a symbiotic relationship with the Ur-plant that gives meaning to all human existence and brings Jah's love and attention to to our universe.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:13 PM on May 18, 2010 [8 favorites]




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