Oct 202013
 

seattle washington marijuana cannabis costNow that marijuana has become legal in Washington and Colorado, reformers are drawing battle lines over its taxation.  Anti-tax libertarians and medical marijuana industry opponents of Washington’s I-502 are now raising fears about $17 to $25 gram after-tax prices and the destruction of the medical marijuana industry.  Sadly, they are using the same sort of scaremongering tactics opponents of marijuana legalization use to maintain prohibition in other states.

Jacob Sullum, a writer for the libertarian Reason.com published an article this week in Forbes entitled “High Marijuana Taxes Could Derail Legalization Plans“.  In it he describes an analysis by BOTEC, the consulting firm handling Washington’s legalization rollout, which explains, “based on a production cost of $2 per gram… the after-tax retail price will be $17 per gram, or $482 per ounce. Another projection, based on a production cost of $3 per gram, puts the retail price at $25.50 per gram, or $723 per ounce.”

In addition to the $2/gram production cost and 25% excise tax at the producer, processor, and retailer level, BOTEC assumed a 100% double-your-money markup at each level, too.  Sullum’s mistake, and those who’ve latched on to the $17/gram figure to frighten consumers, is failing to read the report’s explanation of that 100% markup figure.

“A review of retail markups across 53 sectors find an enormous range of average markups, from 14% for gas stations with convenience stores to 139% for optical goods (e.g., glasses),” writes BOTEC.  “[I]f we replace the arbitrary assumptions of 100% markups with the processor markups typical of a dairy (34%) and retail markup typical of beer, wine and liquor stores (31%), then the numbers would look very different. The projected retail price would then be less than half as high ($7.46 vs. $16.99)…”

And what’s this $2/gram production cost, anyway?  Really, it costs over $900 to produce a pound of marijuana?  We consulted this RAND analysis from 2010 that analyzed figures from illegal grows.  They found “a well-run 5′ x 5′ hydroponic grow producing 4 harvests per year might yield 10.5 pounds per year with tangible costs of $225 per pound.”  Jorge Cervantes’ Dutch case study revealed a long-term cost of $238 per pound.

So it appears the cost of growing marijuana – even under the restrictions of prohibition, unable to grow at large, industrial scale and required to take precautions to hide the activity – turns out to be somewhere around 52¢ per gram.  Plug that 52¢ into BOTEC’s inflated 100% markup scheme and you get weed at $4.42 / gram.  Bring your markups into the 33% real-world range and you get weed down to $1.95 / gram.  (Do it yourself – online spreadsheet available at http://rad-r.us/botec.)

Now, we don’t think (in the short term) we’re going to see retail $2 grams.  Legal growers will face regulatory, security, licensing, and employee costs a typical 5′ x 5′ grow doesn’t incur.  But even if weed costs $1.32 per gram to grow (Colorado State University’s estimate for Amendment 64), at 100% markups the post-tax cost is still just $11.21/gram.  Since the market will bear people paying $7-$15 a gram, that’s where it will be priced.  No tokers in the Pacific Northwest are going to spend over $300 on an ounce of cannabis.  Growers, processors, and retailers who want their business will be forced to reduce production costs and markups.

But the $17/gram exaggeration won’t die because it fans the flames of hatred some in the medical marijuana industry had for I-502 all along.  Sullum explains that the untaxed, unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle charge $250 per ounce.  Already the Seattle City Council has called for merging the recreational and medical markets.  This is the “I told you so” moment for the No on I-502 crowd who claimed all along that legalization would harm medical marijuana patients, blaming the regulation of recreational marijuana rather than the lack of regulation for medical marijuana.

The real fear for medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle is that taxed recreational marijuana may come in at a reasonable price.  Then many patients decide the annual medical permission slip they buy so they can shop for untaxed medical marijuana isn’t worth it.  Then there are fewer registered patients, meaning fewer people to fill in those untaxed 10-patient 45-plant collective grows that feed the unregulated medical dispensaries.

Sullum’s title warns high taxes would “derail legalization plans”.  In another article, he worries that Colorado’s marijuana taxation would “preserve the black market”.  Yet nothing about taxing of marijuana is going to repeal Initiative 502 or Amendment 64.  If the taxes are too high, those states may not realize the tax revenue they hoped for and the black market might continue unabated.  So then states will be forced to lower those high taxes to capture more market share, just as the cannabis market will have to adjust if their markups are too high.  These tax rates aren’t commandments; they can be changed.  If they are as odious as predicted, the support for lowering the taxes will be substantial.  The black market isn’t the boogeyman; it’s the leverage that forces legal marijuana prices lower.

It’s strange that the people who usually preach about the corrective power of free markets are making an exception for legalized marijuana.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation

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About Russ Belville

I am the executive director of 420RADIO.org and host / producer of The Russ Belville Show - The Independent Voice of the Marijuana Nation at http://radicalruss.com - live from Portland, Oregon. I was the winner of The Search for the Next Great Progressive Talk Radio Star and a former host on XM Satellite Radio and Portland's AM 620 KPOJ. I was the Outreach Coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws from 2008-2012, which included lecturing all across America on marijuana legalization, writing political analysis for HIGH TIMES Magazine, and producing over 1,000 hours of video content for The NORML Network.
  • Big Bill

    “These taxes aren’t commandments, they can be changed.”

    That is the dumbest thing I have heard since “Obama care is free.” Once a tax or government law is enacted it is almost never undone and repealed.

    • painkills2

      I think you have a hang up about Obamacare. Taxes on alcohol have changed throughout the years, and the amount of sin taxes paid for alcohol vary from state to state. As do the sin taxes on cigarettes. Laws are undone all the time by the making of new laws. Or just changing the wording of the old laws. (Take heart — what Obamacare looks like today, will not be how it looks five years from now.)

      • Dr.B

        I agree, WA will figure out that 17-25 a gram will not fly, as soon as they sit on 300 lb’s of weed for 3 months with no sales… it will occur to them they should have done better research. lol

        • painkills2

          Cannabis + my imagination = a mental picture of Newt Gingrich (why him? I dunno) sitting on one… huge… bud. The next frame is just smoke, and the caption reads “Looks like they figured out how to cure that ‘no sales’ problem. And had fun doing it.”

        • 0.o

          If only boycotting an illegal plant were legal…..

        • wowFAD

          I don’t think it will ever even come to 17-25 a gram. IMHO, the assumption of a 100% price mark-up at each point of sale is just another flavor of baseless fear-mongering from prohibitionists (masquerading as Libertarians) who think the Achilles heel of the cannabis reform movement is to seed discord and uncertainty about the taxation and ultimate expense of legal cannabis.

          And it’s not a bad strategy in terms of effectiveness. There are a lot of people who are against taxing anything, ever, who are willing to throw monkey wrenches into the legalization scheme by cooking up the same type of prescriptive math Jacob Sullum used, above. That specific Libertarian school of thought might think they’ll get their way (no taxes, ever, for any reason) by hyping overinflated numbers, but all they’re doing is dancing to a prohibitionist’s tune called “Divide and Conquer” by driving an ideological wedge between the anti-tax Libertarians and the bleeding heart Liberals who understand we must pay for things like schools and paved roads.

          We can avoid that ideological wedge by ensuring no one is allowed to spin off into assumption land when discussing the finer details of any legalization scheme. The 100% markup assumption is an example, and I’m glad Russ took it apart. One less bullet in their gun.

      • Big Bill

        Repeat after me:

        “Government is never right.”
        “Government is not my friend.”
        “Government does not have my best interest at heart because I am not a bankster.”
        “Anything Government touches turns to sH*t.”
        “Taxes are never the answer, they are always the problem.”
        “Obamacare will destroy healthcare and drive prices up, buy putting the burden on the youth and the productive members of society.”

        Keep repeating until you get it.

        • painkills2

          And you are always right? And you are my friend? And you have my best interests at heart? Hmmm… I’ll have to think on that one for awhile.

          Taxes are not always the problem. Obamacare will not destroy that which has already been destroyed (good healthcare).

          Stop repeating things that other people tell you. Why? Because buzz words and phrases will never win an argument. Government is just another corporation, neither good nor bad just because it is The Man. Anyway, I hear that what we REALLY have to worry about are aliens…

          • Big Bill

            I am not always right. Government is never right. Taxes are always the problem, unless you are a democrat/republican who loves to steal from the masses.

          • MrPC

            For further information on living the conservative dream of no government, just Google the word “Somalia.”

          • painkills2

            Oh, snap…

          • obamayomamma

            MR. PC:

            My God, more lame attempts at discussion. No one is suggestion NO government. Those who love freedom want a very limited federal government as this was the intention of the Founders.

          • MrPC

            It is always amusing to hear someone explain “the intention of the founders” like they were around to chat with Jefferson and Madison, who both repeatedly wrote that everything they were doing was obviously going to change over time.

          • painkills2

            And here’s another zinger from MrPC!
            Can someone show obamayomamma the way to Reason.com please? I think he is lost, poor soul.

          • MrPC

            Reason? We don’t need no stinkin’ reason! We got Glenn Beck!

          • wowFAD

            Ever notice you fellas only decided government was evil when a black guy got elected President?

            The rest of use noticed. And we’re not fooled. It’s not Obamacare — most of your ilk supported Romney, who forced healthcare on his entire state. And it’s not that Obama was born in another country — he wasn’t, but TED CRUZ certainly was, and again, your ilk have no objections to him getting on the ballot.

            Yes, little bill, it is a miracle we cracked the code. Solved the mystery without having to involve Scooby and the Gang.

            You don’t think government is evil. You don’t think, period. That was obvious when you told Painkills2 to just keep repeating your nonsense over and over and over — you’re incapable of making a case and proving your points because they’re not *YOUR* points. All that empty “freedumb” rhetoric was handed to you, and oh boy, did you buy into it hook, line, and sinker. Not because any of it’s the least bit true, no no… You believe it because it made you FEEL good to do so. Feels good to have an enemy, doesn’t it? So here you are, blindly regurgitating empty rhetoric, precisely the same way you told Painkills2 to do so, because you’re under the mistaken impression that repeating something enough times makes it true.

            Newsflash — that strategy might work on the 65+ crowd, but not so much on those of us who like the black President.

          • painkills2

            I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that I “like” President Obama, but the day I saw a magazine in CVS with Obama’s picture under the headline “DEVIL” was the day I said, okay, you Republicans are angry, I get that, but enough already. Just enough. People on the left and President Obama are not your enemies — your enemies are the ones who get you to vote against your interests.

            Who would have thought that electing a black president would bring out so much… yuckiness. Really, I am constantly surprised by the level of hate against President Obama, and I always wonder if it is only because he is black, or if it is because the right thinks he’s some kind of socialist. Or is it because he is black that they think Obama is a socialist? I’m not sure I’d know a socialist if I saw one — I think they are extinct. :)

          • wowFAD

            Oh, you know he’s not my favorite person for more than a few reasons. He’s admitted, quite publicly, that he used cannabis recreationally for years in his youth. Had he been arrested for it, he would not be the President. That’s a stark reality that boils my blood when I think about the way he laughs at the issue of legalization.

            But what really annoys me more than anything is the fact that there are legitimate policy complaints to be made against the current administration, but freedumb freaks latch onto one new fake conspiracy and/or manufactured scandal after another, instead! I’ve lost count how many different “_____gates” Obama has supposedly had, none of which were substantive. They keep talking about impeaching him without actually citing what he did wrong, exactly.

            There are *legitimate* complaints against his administration that no one wants to talk about. Obviously, he’s barely paid lip-service to ending the Drug War. Obama’s administration employed *Kevin Sabet* — that should be a capital crime. The Office of National Drug Control Policy gets an annual budget of $26 billion, most of which goes to propaganda studies and enforcement, despite promising to treat addiction as a public health issue. The ONDCP budget includes $1.1 billion in funding for the NIDA to pay for pointless prop studies that attempt to link cannabis to bad things, like domestic violence (most of which don’t succeed). There’s another $2.6 billion in funding for the DEA to beat up and/or shoot innocent people and their pets. Why haven’t the budget hawks said anything about that gross waste of tax dollars, yet?

            There have been zero prosecutions from his DOJ for the 2008 economic crash, despite publicized evidence showing certain people in the financial sector acted knowingly to create the crisis for profit. There have been zero prosecutions for the cherry-picked intelligence we were sold to justify the Iraq War, and no one was ever held responsible for the subsequent war crimes, most notably the torture. However, the DOJ is happy to prosecute anyone/everyone who let us know about those war crimes. Several agencies, most notably the NSA and the DEA, have been spying on Americans without properly attained warrants or just cause. He’s a biscuit away from approving the Keystone pipeline. And let’s not forget Obama’s totally cool with Fracking, despite several thousand American households that are now uninhabitable because the plumbing now catches fire, and in stark contrast with all his fluffy words about addressing the real problem of climate change.

            He’s pretty far from a shining beacon on a hill. There are legitimate complaints to be made about his Presidency that he cannot lay at the feet of Congress. Things that someone should be holding Obama’s feet to the fire for. Inconsistencies that should be rectified. Injustices that have been panned or simply ignored. But no… We need to see his long-form birth certificate, defund ACORN, and repeat nonsense slogans like “Obama lied and people died.” Clearly, I’m not his biggest fan, either, but as long as the freedumb freaks shout louder than the rational critics, none of our real issues will ever get addressed.

            Because I voted for him, twice, sometimes I think the President *wants* to do good things for America, and he would, if he didn’t have to weather all of the bitter open hatred and disdain coming at him from every racist in a tri-corner hat. Maybe he’s so busy trying to keep up with the baseless outrage that he can’t hear any real criticisms, let alone do anything about them.

            Maybe he’d stop ignoring cannabis advocates if he wasn’t so busy fending off calls for impeachment over Benghazi, a place his detractors can’t even find on a map. We’re so inundated with fake outrage that our real problems remain unsolved.

            I truly *WISH* he was the Leftist radical they dress him up as — we’d have legal cannabis, universal background checks, single-payer healthcare, and the 4th amendment wouldn’t be just a suggestion.

          • painkills2

            Well, now, I don’t think any person could do all the things you truly wish for (half-smile). President Obama is just a man (although he gets extra points for picking such a great wife). I don’t think he would have ever been able to meet the stratospheric expectations of his base, so I guess disappointment was inevitable. I just wish America would have behaved better with our first president of color. Hell, how are Americans going to treat a woman or Latina president? (shudder)

            It seems like the Tea Party has taken over and would prefer to get media attention rather than govern. I can kinda see where this minority party is coming from, but their strategy sucks. To the Tea Partiers, compromise means giving in, and I don’t know how to disabuse them of this nonsense. I try, but I get nowhere. (So far.) They are trying to stand up for what they believe in, which I admire, sure, but they also think they are in the majority (shrug).

            Maybe after President Obama “retires,” he will evolve on the legalization issue. I’ve heard Clinton talk about prescription medication abuse, and he does not sound progressive at all. We are out of political leaders that can lead on cannabis. And I don’t think celebrity pot smokers are going to fill the void. John Lennon — come back…

          • wowFAD

            I *did* vote for him twice — I’m not a one-issue voter, or a seven-issue voter, I suppose. I’ve always had realistic expectations for what he could do after seeing the filibuster turn into a play-thing, and there is a much longer list of things that have been done that I am happy about. I’m glad we’re not in Iraq anymore. I’m glad he did something about student debt. I’m glad he helped the DREAMers. I’m glad we didn’t go into Syria. I’m glad we didn’t go into Iran. I’m glad we’re not torturing people (anymore). I’m glad the DOJ isn’t suing to block I-502 and A64.
            It’s not that I’m disappointed, I just feel like they treat him like some militant extremist when he isn’t, and they complain about things about him that aren’t true. As a nation, we *need* an honest opposition party *because* no one is perfect. I’m not mad at Obama, I’m mad at the people who ignore our real problems and raise hell over fabricated nonsense.

          • Mystery Man

            WowFAD:

            Hurrah, an obama bot makes his appearance. Those who love freedom have stood in opposition to all parties that destroy the Constitution including Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and Communists. It has nothing to to with race, although Obama is the lawn jockey for Goldman Sachs (by choice).

          • painkills2

            It is a Mystery to me Man why people (or bots, whatever) use language like you have used above. Whose attention are you trying to capture? Are you lonely, is that it? What’s the problem, dude? Need some attention from regular people? C’mon, tell me all about it… (That’ll be $2.99 for the first minute, and 99 cents for every minute thereafter.)

          • obamayomamma

            Painkills2:

            Rather than address the issues you choose to turn this into an therapy session. You are in the wrong place, Oprah is two doors down.

            And don’t call me dude.

          • painkills2

            I didn’t call you dude, dude! This is the first time I’ve talked to, what is your name, Obama-yo-mamma? Are you Mystery Man from the above post? Why are you making me dizzy?

            I don’t know who Oprah is, but sure, no problem, I’ll quit calling you “dude.” Did you want to talk about lawn-statue issues?

          • wowFAD

            haha — as soon as I read “those who love freedom” I knew you had nothing of any worth to say. You freedumb zombies will cease to exist, soon enough. I suspect that you’ll all slither back to the trailer park just after the black guy leaves office. Unless of course he is replaced by anybody except a straight white man — then it’ll be eight more years of white trash temper tantrums. Not that it hasn’t been fun!

          • painkills2

            When you use words like “never,” “always,” and “masses,” well, you kinda lose credibility. Sorry, man.

          • TRUTH

            When you try to turn a comment about GOD into a comment about Mother Nature, you lose credibility.

          • painkills2

            So… no woman was involved in creation? Just a male god? Now I remember why I have a problem with religion. (And dude, I may lose credibility with you, but I’m okay with that.) Peace bro.

  • Linda

    this is bad.with prices like this the black market will get richer!

  • 0.o

    So they gave us the legalization, now we pay for it with money. I see what you did thur. They need to make it so I can grow it in my own backyard and not have to go through all this shit just for a fucking plant.

  • Don clabeaux

    Who came up with a cost to produce a lb is over $900.00 is that after shipping from China black market is $10.00 per gr from what I’m hearing

  • Tony_Aroma

    Taxation has nothing whatsoever to do with a free market or capitalism, and everything to do with government control. It’s taxes, not markups, that could potentially result in exorbitant prices.

    • Mystery Man

      Well said Tony Aroma. Only statists love taxes.

  • Dina M.

    Finally, a realistic economic observation that legalized marijuana is not better or equal to decriminalized or medical marijuana. LEGALIZE HEMP! is what should be on everyone’s agenda.

  • bob

    This is a good attempt at discussion. But the numbers have to be pure fiction. To properly calculate cost of production, you have to include seeds, clones, equipment, electricity, nutrients, pest control, water, labor. Most of it is grown in clean room conditions, which are expensive to build and operate. You have to include lab testing and packaging and the cost of all the product tracking and reporting regulations (more staff, more equipment, fancy rfid labels,etc) . You have to add in overhead items like consulting, education, management costs, accounting and legal, rent, replacement equipment, travel to trade shows, management, payroll taxes, liability and unemployment insurance, and more. Experts are expensive if you can even hire one. It is farming, so you have to include crop insurance costs (not available at any price today) or allow for a couple of crop failures and complete wipe-outs. You have to pay investors a return on their money appropriate to the risks. No way is it 50 cents a gram. That is fantasy. Even $2 seems very low when you fully amortize the costs. If you want to make that claim, show us how you calculate it. You can;t just go look at some guy in his backyard and say it is 50 cents a pound.

    • Dr.B

      Thank you! Someone who actually knows something!

      • painkills2

        If I buy a bottle of Vodka at my local store, will it cost about the same as if I were to go to the next city or state and do the same? How much do alcohol prices vary from city to city, state to state?

    • Bustyn1

      I think you’ll find that the production price, when grown on 160 acre plots in central Washington under irrigation circles, is considerably less than 50 cents per gram.

    • Guest

      The problem with your (and every one elses) whole analysis on the cost, is that the more you make, the more your “Cost per gram” goes down. You can easily make (and sell) 120 pounds a month. And the difference between 10 pounds per month and 120 pounds per month are negligent at best towards your over all costs. In CO 1/8 ounce bags are selling like hotcakes for $50. The shops there are selling over 12 pounds a day (each!) right now since they opened. That buzz will die down a little but let’s say they manage to sell 4 pounds a day. That’s 1800 grams a day. Are you telling me operating cost seems low at $3600 a day (1800 x $2 per gram) ? You think it costs $108,000 a month to run a pot shop? You’ve been smoking a bit too much if so. And even if it did cost $1,296,000 a year to run a pot shop (which it doesn’t) they’re selling $10,000,000 in weed a year IF their sales drop by 66%. If the sales stay strong, they’re making 30 million a year in sales. About 35% of that is going towards taxes and then you substract their tiny “cost per gram”. 10,000,000 – 3,500,000 = 6,500,000 – 1,300,000 = 5,200,000 profit.

      Yes, it’s a profit of $400,000 + a month to run a pot shop, if you can grow 120 pounds a month. If you can grow and sale more, and if you can get your costs under $1,300,000 a year (which I think you could get the costs down to 1/10th of that) then it’s that much more profit.

      Basically $300,000/MONTHLY profit if you don’t know what you’re doing and you waste money on useless consults…., $400,000 if you’re average and about $600,000 – $1,000,000+ /month if you’re business savvy and keep raking in customers…..

      Cost per gram??? Who cares..? It varies by volume and the bottom line is this business is extremely profitable….
      but if the question must be answered I’ll show you the calculations.
      Cost per gram for a shop that has a knowledgeable owner and about 5 employees (you really wouldn’t need more than 3, but i’ll use 5 just to be fair) and sells are a consistent 120 pounds a month;

      Employees = $15,000 a month. (payroll, payroll taxes, insurance)
      Shop = $5,500 a month. (rent, bills, insurance)
      Harvest = $3,000 a month. (pesticides, water, nutrients, upkeep)
      Lawyer fees = $3,000 a month.
      Unknown costs = $5,000 a month.

      Total costs = $31,500.
      Total grams = 54,000
      Equates to 58 cents a gram. And I even high balled every thing.

      Opening costs would be about $30,000 and you could write off $10,000 from that in taxes your first year. There’s other things you could write off but we’re not including any of this.

  • mick

    Crazy the dealer and growers seem to do a good job on the cheap… They then just jack up the price…. So gov decided to just jack up the price for the hell of it

  • Matt

    Colorado’s initiative will absolutely be more successful than Washington’s. Why? Because anyone can grow their own 6 plants. You can’t do that in Washington. That reason alone will drive prices down in Colorado. What’s going on in Washington isn’t “real legalization”. It is absolutely true they are trying to kill the current MMJ market, because regulators have publicly stated they’re scared people will end up getting a medical marijuana card instead of going to the “weed stores” because they’ll be less regulated and cheaper.

    I am also sick of mainline marijuana organizations defending restrictive initiatives, and not supporting liberal initiatives. True, it is better we support restrictive legalization than none at all, but where were organization like NORML supporting complete legalization initiatives like the “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” and “CCHI 2012″ in California? They hyped restrictive initiatives like I-502 and Proposition 19 before they made the ballot. Where is their support for the “real legalization”? At this point in 2013, I don’t trust these organizations. Like the law enforcement lobby, what would happen to NORML if marijuana was REALLY legalized nationwide, not under these “restrictive” initiatives? There would be no reason for NORML after that. So for now, I believe they are supporting restrictive legalization to keep their pockets full.

    • http://radicalruss.com/ RadicalRuss

      I agree that Colorado will be more successful than Washington, partially because of home grow, but also because Colorado starts with a well-regulated medical marijuana industry and Washington has the wild west wink wink nudge nudge system.

      I had to reply, Matt, because you invoke two of my favorite hilarious conspiracies – “REAL Legalization™” and “NORML doesn’t want it”.

      REAL Legalization™ is that which passes and keeps marijuana consumers out of cages. Supporters of so-called REAL Legalization™ failed to get their REAL Legalization™ on the ballot after numerous tries. Every year they failed, another 10,000 Washingtonians got a criminal record for marijuana.

      Thanks to I-502, now they don’t. Also, drug dogs don’t sniff for marijuana anymore. Now, I’d like it better if Washington legalized home grow, but home grow is no more illegal than it was before. If you don’t like Washington’s legal weed, grow your own. You’re no more criminal than you were before, and thanks to I-502 it will be harder to catch you because the mere smell of weed coming from your home or stems in your trash or possession of an ounce on your person is no longer probable cause to get a warrant.

      If I-502 kills the medical market, that’s a problem related to the non-regulation of the medical market, not the regulation of the recreational market. What, we should go back to criminalizing recreational users to protect the wink wink nudge nudge dispensaries? And how long do you think they would have remained unraided and unshuttered without I-502 passing? Just make a marijuana market, period, and make the medical recommendation a pass to buy marijuana tax-free.

      But, really, you know and I know that plenty of people on the medical market in Washington are recreational users. Yes, indeed, weed helps with minor aches and pains, but so does Tylenol, and you pay taxes on over-the-counter drugs (if they aren’t prescribed). While I and much of the public are sympathetic to not sin taxing someone using cannabis to combat cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, Crohn’s, etc., I think those of us using pot for non-life-debilitating ailments can pay taxes.

      As for “hyping”, NORML has had a longstanding rule of not promoting initiatives until they make the ballot, which they only violated, I believe, with Prop 19. The thinking behind such a rule is that every starry-eyed true believer Jack Hererite out there thinks they can type up an initiative for REAL Legalization™, and usually types up something completely unpalatable to mainstream voters (everyone gets 99 plants and 12 pounds with a $10/ounce max tax and all the pot prisoners are set free, hooray!), and then believes that they can get this thing on the ballot with no money and only volunteer signature gatherers, and when it makes the ballot, will pass with flying colors with advertising and promotion that will surely flow in once everyone sees that True Legalization™ has made the ballot!

      So, if NORML and the others hype every single REAL Legalization™ that’s floated out there and spends their limited political capital convincing everybody to pour their hard work and money into it and the REAL Legalization™ spectacularly fails at making the ballot, NORML and the others lose what little mainstream credibility they’ve worked hard to achieve.

      What NORML, MPP, and DPA do hype are ballot initiatives that actually make the ballot, as they did with Washington’s I-502, Colorado’s A64, and Oregon’s doomed M80. Yes, even though Measure 80 was written by Hererites, had no money or serious backing, and offered unpalatable language like allowing possession and cultivation of unlimited plants and mandating all seeds and starts be completely unregulated, NORML and others “hyped” it because it made the ballot, even as behind the scenes they knew it would be unlikely to pass. And what do you know, the measures with serious language and serious money won with 55% and the one without lost with 46.5%.

      Finally, the “NORML doesn’t want legalization” is laughable. First, why is that logic never applied to NAACP and ASPCA? (“What would happen to them if racism/animal cruelty was REALLY ended nationwide, there would be no reason for NAACP/ASPCA after that.”) Second, do you know how little money is earned by anyone involved with NORML (I do)? When you get a law degree, corporate law is where the money is. But if you do criminal law, white collar is where the money is. But if you go “real crime”, murder is where the money is. But if you go “drug crime”, cocaine is where the money is. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lawyer who makes less money on average than a marijuana lawyer, and even the ones who do are still owing tens of thousands in student loans. Few people become a NORML lawyer for the money, most do it because they are pot smokers themselves who abhor prohibition and love sticking it to the man every time they get a toker off of marijuana charges.

      If “Jack Herer 2014″ and “Open Source 2014″ initiatives want hype, all they have to do is secure big money backers and get on the ballot. The problem is that big money and high-profile backers are smarter than to stake their money and reputations on a True Legalization™ that won’t pass.

      • Matt

        “If I-502 kills the medical market, that’s a problem related to the
        non-regulation of the medical market, not the regulation of the
        recreational market.”

        If I-502 didn’t pass, the only market would be the tax-free medical market. There would be also no 5 ng / ml DUI limit with no defense. You argue it is easy to get a card in Washington. So if the “non-regulated, tax free dispensaries” are done away with because the Liquor Control Board becomes upset that Washington consumers are choosing dispensaries with cheaper pot instead of their 75% tax stores, what period were people in Washington better off?

        “Yes, indeed, weed helps with minor aches and pains, but so does Tylenol,
        and you pay taxes on over-the-counter drugs (if they aren’t
        prescribed).”

        We don’t pay 75% tax on Tylenol.

        “So, if NORML and the others hype every single REAL Legalization™
        that’s floated out there and spends their limited political capital
        convincing everybody to pour their hard work and money into it and the
        REAL Legalization™ spectacularly fails at making the ballot, NORML and
        the others lose what little mainstream credibility they’ve worked hard
        to achieve.”

        They wouldn’t fail to make the ballot if they had support and hype, like you guys hyped Prop 19.

        “If “Jack Herer 2014″ and “Open Source 2014″ initiatives want hype,
        all they have to do is secure big money backers and get on the ballot.
        The problem is that big money and high-profile backers are smarter than
        to stake their money and reputations on a True Legalization™ that won’t
        pass.”

        “The thinking behind such a rule is that every
        starry-eyed true believer Jack Hererite out there thinks they can type
        up an initiative for REAL Legalization™, and usually types up something
        completely unpalatable to mainstream voters (everyone gets 99 plants and
        12 pounds with a $10/ounce max tax and all the pot prisoners are set
        free, hooray!), and then believes that they can get this thing on the
        ballot with no money and only volunteer signature gatherers, and when it
        makes the ballot, will pass with flying colors with advertising and
        promotion that will surely flow in once everyone sees that True
        Legalization™ has made the ballot!”

        This brings me back a little bit, I remember when you guys were laughing at Colorado’s Amendment 64 compared to I-502 also, saying it would probably not pass and needed to be more “conservative” like I-502, but ended up getting the same percentage of votes. I think it’s funny you mock initiatives like CCHI 2014. That was the only legalization initiative that Jack Herer himself supported before he died. He was a REAL Marijuana Activist™, a lot more known and has a much better reputation than yourself Russ™. Give us a reason why these initiatives won’t pass. Is it like you said, that all the “big money” doesn’t want a less restrictive initiative? I think your argument speaks for itself. It seems that you believe the only route to go is not “REAL Legalization™”, which you mock, but having a system where marijuana is heavily taxed, with little or no plant grows, and a limited number licensed shops that can be opened and where people can buy it from.

        It is more clear to me than ever that if anyone wants to support “REAL Legalization™”, as you call it, NORML is not the place to go. It will be clear with time to others that a lot of people’s speculation about I-502 was right and that it wasn’t “REAL Legalization™”.

        • Matt

          “Yes, even though Measure 80 was written by Hererites, had no money or
          serious backing, and offered unpalatable language like allowing
          possession and cultivation of unlimited plants and mandating all seeds
          and starts be completely unregulated, NORML and others “hyped” it
          because it made the ballot, even as behind the scenes they knew it would
          be unlikely to pass. And what do you know, the measures with serious
          language and serious money won with 55% and the one without lost with
          46.5%.”

          This point is, again, self-defeating. With almost NO hyping, funding, and with “doom-and-gloom” predictions that Measure 80 was going to fail horribly, it still got 46.5% of the vote, back in 2012… about the SAME as hyped and well-funded Proposition 19! As the years drag on, support for marijuana legalization is increasing, and dramatically, judging by statistics. If Measure 80 were introduced in the same circumstances in 2016 or later, at this rate, you could safely say it would have a safe chance of passing. Imagine with just a little bit of support behind it!

          So again, tell me, why do we need restrictive legalization similar to I-502, and not something like CCHI 2014, Measure 80, and Regulate Marijuana Like Wine?

        • painkills2

          You both (passionately) make some good points. Since ya’ll are talking about things that might happen in the future, I guess we won’t know who’s right until everything shakes out.
          Just because a law has been passed doesn’t mean it will be implemented like you want, or implemented at all, for that matter. Ya’ll might not like the fact that both places won’t allow home grows, but from the outside, I see a potentially great experiment. (Not so much fun for the participants IN the experiment, that’s a fact.) I’m disappointed that Washington state and Colorado are not really going for “full” legalization, as I had hoped the polls would show politicians that this was a good idea. (shrug)

          Without the people who work within the political structure, things would not get done. Without people pushing at that political structure, things would not get done. You both have a roll to play and it sure would be nice if ya’ll could play nicely.

          However, Matt makes a good point about organizations as big as NORML. I have been appalled at what has happened to the Pink Ribbon breast cancer organization (corrupted political involvement and marketing blitzes that have destroyed that so-called “brand”). (Just try and count the number of places you see pink ribbons, imagine the dealers and brokers behind the scenes making these marketing deals with corrupt corporations, and how long this “institution” has been trying to “cure” breast cancer. End rant.)

          Matt, if you think NORML has some questionable political connections, I wish you would say so. I understand the reach of NORML and that they are very important to our cause — so maybe you would feel better not saying anything more. Regardless, thanks for the post.

      • ballsdeep

        Fuck you Russ. Your an idiot. It won’t keep people out of jail and it is going to create criminals out of patients. Your a moron and must work for the same dbags that Holcomb takes orders from. Yea keep believing that drug dogs just stopped smelling for cannabis. Once home growing is eliminated thanks to 502 the drug dogs will be back to arresting patients who refuse to be forced to pay way overpriced prices for there meds. Your a fucking idiot.

  • Matt

    “It’s strange that the people who usually preach about the corrective
    power of free markets are making an exception for legalized marijuana.”

    It’s strange that people think a marijuana market where consumers aren’t allowed to grow their own plants, where marijuana is heavily taxed every time it changes hands, and where there is a cap on the number of marijuana stores, is somehow a “free market”. This “overly-regulated market” IS going to keep the “black market” going.

  • murific

    wonder how much GOD made ? for creating it :)

    • painkills2

      Mother Nature is a non-profit entity.

      • TRUTH

        So called “mother nature” is not an entity at all, it’s a figment of your imagination. Whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not, GOD ALMIGHTY has actually spoken:
        “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 1:29 KJV). Mock this truth and God will mock you.

        • painkills2

          Dude, LIFE has mocked me, so I’m not really afraid of what more a god could do. But, please, rant on… it is certainly your right. You might find a more receptive audience on a religious-based website though, don’t you think? Or, how about this… if I agree that your god created cannabis, can we talk about something else?

      • Sarijuana

        That just means the people at the top on the payroll can pay themselves enough to eat up any profit!

        • painkills2

          Are you sure there is really someone at the top of the payroll, or is that all just a myth, like a woman behind the curtain? Where does all the money go? I used to see a chiropractor that had two corvettes, a pain doctor that traveled internationally 2 or 3 times a year (thanks big pharma), but I don’t notice dispensaries with accoutrements like that.

          • Sarijuana

            different scenario, so far.

          • painkills2

            Phew… good to know.

  • Sarijuana

    They tried create a new, high tax for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico when it was first legalized and they were working out the kinks of the new law. It didn’t fly because it wouldn’t work. No one would buy it from state regulated stores if the price was higher than the black market, and because enough lawmakers and consultants knew this, the recommendation to tax it differently than other items fell by the wayside. But there will always be people who try.

    • painkills2

      But the dispensary price IS higher than the black market price in New Mexico. The medicinal cannabis may be better quality than what’s on the black market, which would justify some difference in price, but I am unable to make that comparison (the black market is not open to me, as it is not open to many, uh… old people). Maybe I should travel out of my city for a better price? Am I allowed to do that?

      • Sarijuana

        Not true, in my opinion. There is comparable product in both the legal and black markets, and it is very close in price from what I have seen. Yes, there is black market cheap ass crap pot out there, and also very expensive premo classy-ass wonder bud going for too high a price as well. But the mid-range stuff offered in dispensaries is damn near priced the same as the street bud.

        • painkills2

          I’m going to defer to you knowledge, especially as my information comes second-hand.
          But… but… Uruguay is going to sell legal pot for $1 per gram!

  • moses

    Wow u guys are really off topic and u sound like little kids that didn’t get what they wanted for Xmas. Try living in Florida or any place that is fighting for any canabis rights. While fighting cancer or chronic pain

    • painkills2

      We do tend to get off topic on The Weed Blog, don’t we? (But you might kinda expect that, right?) I’m sorry you live in Florida. I mean, I used to live in Texas, so I know how you feel. Any good news to report from the legalization front in Florida?

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  • Jordan

    There should be taxes on anything anywhere. Legalize all drugs. The same freedom that grants me possession of cannabis and the liberty to consume it gives me the same liberty to possess and consume magic mushrooms, cocaine or even opium. Government shouldn’t be involved in the lives of individuals.
    If only Ron Paul were president. :/

    • painkills2

      Ron Paul is not very pro-woman. Got any other suggestions for president?

  • Rob

    I look at all the current legislation being approved as finally getting the door to legalization open. First show people that the sky won’t fall and civilization won’t implode if the government lets responsible adults use cannabis without fear of arrest or prison then once that is done the new laws can be shaped and amended to fit their new reality.

    • painkills2

      I would not depend on the pot-loving public’s response to legalization to “show” people how well things will work. We can’t predict the future. Most people should agree that cannabis is less harmful (or equal to, if you like) than alcohol, so we should always begin any argument right there. Whatever happens after legalization should be compared to what things looked like after alcohol prohibition. Whatever the cannabis consumer market looks like should be compared to what the current alcohol consumer market looks like. To me, this seems like it would always be a winning argument, because when you make the comparison between cannabis and alcohol, well, cannabis will always win.

      Do MMJ patients have to come out of the “closet” to prove that we aren’t going to cause societal havoc? I don’t think that’s necessary. But until we decide that everybody deserves to medicate with cannabis (just like aspirin, cough syrup, and Benadryl), than the opposition will say that MMJ is just a “gateway” to legalization. (You know, like dieting is a gateway to anorexia. Not.)

      I do not want to wait around while politicians evolve into a rational position on cannabis just because, OMG!, they FINALLY know someone who medicates with cannabis. (Oh, my nephew/son/granddaughter is gay! I never new! Now all gay people should get married! Please.)

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  • http://maryrain.com/ Mary Rain

    High prices will only push willingly legitimate buyers to ‘illegal’ growers. Sometimes it’s not about charging the highest taxes (surprise!) it’s about providing what the market is willing to pay, I hope you’re right!

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  • Earl

    The market will correct itself after initial growing pains that will last for about 3 months. At that point the competing entities will have become defined and prices will smooth over to sustain itself, as all of the players have made an investment that they must recover. All must see what the potential will be for things to settle down. Issues like taxes pushing people to the illegal trade will have to play out and the sociological landscape after about a 3-6 month period will also have to be reviewed and assessed to project the future with any reasonable accuracy. If people don’t get stupid and allow it to spread like an STD then things may turn out just fine.

  • Marquita Cravens

    Jordan, you’re absolutely right. The biggest reason people didn’t want Ron Paul and Obama was afraid of him was that they thought he was too extreme. We’ve gone that far away from the constitution that it actually seems extreme and radical to follow it. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Paul is: “The most basic principle to being a free American is the notion that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions. We do not have the right to rob our neighbors, neither does our neighbor have any right to tell us how to live, so long as we aren’t infringing on their rights. Freedom to make bad decisions is inherent in the freedom to make good ones. If we are only free to make good decisions, we are not really free.” The last two sentences are my favorites. That goes for everything. From motorcycle helmets, car seats, yes cocaine, heroin, and anything else. And that scares the hell out of us. Nothing’s perfect but I think it might be best to err on the side of freedom. Because we breathe we are entitled to everything this world has to offer. The same amount that everyone has a right to. We don’t have to check in with the boss when we’re born and get a list of the rules. Ron Paul understood that. And, and this is the amazing part, at the cost of the election, he would not lie. I wanted to tell him to shut up but he didn’t. His only source was the constitution. Again…he would not lie.