Marijuana sentences to ponder: new data from the Colorado experiment

by on July 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm in Current Affairs, Data Source, Law, Medicine | Permalink

“This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated,” Colorado’s study concluded.

And this, which I think suggests the laws in other states are binding for many consumers:

Colorado concluded that visitors account for 44 percent of recreational marijuana retail sales in the Denver area. In the mountains and other vacation spots, visitors to Colorado account for 90 percent of recreational dispensary traffic.

And this, which sounds tautologous, but is not:

“Heavy users consume marijuana much more often, and more intensely, than other consumers,” the study concluded.

Overall heavy users seem to account for about seventy percent of total demand.  Here is some detail:

Colorado’s market numbers bore out survey estimates that most marijuana is consumed by heavy daily users. For example, survey authors estimated that a third of all Colorado’s pot consumers use the drug less than once a month. But that group accounts for just 0.3 percent of the total market, analysts concluded.

The full story is here, the study itself is here.  For the pointer I thank C., who I believe is not part of that seventy percent of market demand.

charlie July 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm

How do you reconicle the claim that half the users are visitors with “heavy daily users”?

I mean, I have no problem flying there and being stoned for a week, but how long do most visitors stay?

Or as you just importing stoners as residents who don’t change their licences?

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Finch July 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Forgive my naivete, but are we sure the visitors aren’t just buying supplies to resell is less permissive jurisdictions?

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derek July 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Pretty sure. Weed from the dispensaries is supposedly a lot more expensive than the street price. Have to believe that street prices are low enough elsewhere to make this a difficult money-making proposition on any sort of scale.

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msgkings July 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

True, but visitors probably stock up to drive some home. Flying would be trickier of course.

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jc July 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm

out of state ID’s can only buy 1/4oz at a time, it wouldn’t be worth the time. Black market is much more pervasive than you might realize, I can almost guarantee you are within two or three phone calls of purchasing mj.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm

“I can almost guarantee you are within two or three phone calls of purchasing mj.”

That’s almost a stastistical certainty.

msgkings July 10, 2014 at 6:06 pm

@ jc: I agree re: the phone calls.

Marie July 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm

@JC,
Thank you for that info, now it makes sense why we have about a dozen dispensaries within a dozen blocks of my in laws’ house.

Chris Purnell July 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

For ‘dispensaries’ read ‘ bars’: for ‘street’ read supermarket. This is just a profile of all addictive use therefore for ‘stoner’ read ‘alcoholic’.

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prognostication July 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Only had time to skim the report, but pretty sure the “heavy daily user” stats are only for Colorado residents.

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gwern July 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Correct. The paper notes that minimal records are kept of the out of state buyers in the retail sector, so it’s impossible to gaugage what those buyers’ consumption patterns are.

But the out of state buyers only consume ~10 tons a year out of 110 tons total, because the retailer sector is *that* small compared to all the other ways people can get marijuana in Colorado.

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Ray Lopez July 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

A similar story is in alcohol drinkers. The average European consumes about a 2.0 to 2.4 liter of wine a person a week (or about one-tenth that in alcohol, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_alcohol_consumption), which is a lot but most of that, like in beer, is no doubt consumed by heavy drinkers.

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Dismalist July 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Thank for this. I am not as far off the charts as I had feared. :-)

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Sam Haysom July 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Any evidence for this claim. It is hardly intuitive. The simple fact that far more people drink than smoke weed means that the average person is going to be closer to the mean for drinking than weed. This gets right back to the argument against legalization that has to my mind never been dispelled namely that you can’t use weed causally. Thif makes it a) far less of a socializing substance and b) far more disruptive potentially in terms of impaired driving etc.

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Blaise July 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The fact that more people drink doesn’t necessarly mean that the average person is closer to the mean drinking. I drink once or twice a week and I’m nowhere close to the people who drink regularly in the bar down the street. They live a very different life than mine and I’m not socialising with them. They could smoke weed all night that would make no difference to me except that I would be less scared that one of them crash his car on mine.

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bob July 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I use it casually all the time. Just don’t smoke so much.

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Brenton July 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm

“far more disruptive potentially in terms of impaired driving etc.”

Hard to believe that you’re not being sarcastic, when combined with “to my mind never been dispelled”.

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Noah Yetter July 12, 2014 at 12:31 pm

“Can’t use weed casually”? Where do you get this nonsense? The disproving evidence is right in the linked piece. If there are a large number of MJ buyers, and the bulk of the MJ is purchased by a small number of heavy users, then we can conclude most MJ purchases are NOT heavy users.

Or you can just observe the world. I guarantee you know someone who is a casual MJ user, no matter how boring and straightlaced your social circle might be. For my part I know dozens of casual users, and perhaps one or two heavy users.

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T. Shaw July 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

“Heavy users consume marijuana much more often, and more intensely, than other consumers,”

I suggest grad schools teach their students to not caption the obvious.

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Michael B Sullivan July 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Presumably, one might imagine that it was one or the other, not both.

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andrew' July 10, 2014 at 8:31 pm

They mean skewed distribution but the wording is syntactically ambiguous.

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Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Notice that they never provide the actual definition of “heavy user” in summaries. Potheads and medical users would both consider the “heavy use” cutoff to be quite low. It’s really a pretty innocuous substance for people who use it regularly. (For example, people who suffer from a lot of paranoia from the stuff almost certainly do not use it regularly. That could be captioned as obvious. As perhaps could the illegality as a major cause of that paranoia.)

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Axa July 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

There’s no such thing as the social smoker?

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Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

It’s a debacle in the making. Good work Spicolis.

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Z July 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Why do you think so? I’m not contesting the claim or picking a fight. I’m genuinely interested in your reasoning.

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msgkings July 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Me too…

I’m pro-legalization, but I’m not some pie-in-the-sky type who thinks it will all be groovy with no problems. I just think the problems will be less than the problems of criminalized use, and the benefits are greater (but not as great as the wackos think).

SO Art, honest question, how do you see this as a disaster?

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j r July 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Not likely to be as a big a debacle as the war on drugs, so it is likely a net gain.

The thing to remember is that drug legalization and decriminalization is not an answer to the drug problem; it’s an answer to the drug war problem.

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Brian Donohue July 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Very good point.

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Z July 10, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Oh please. It is the same cant from libertarians they have been chanting for decades.

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C July 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm

It is the same cant from libertarians they have been chanting for decades.

Stating that “Claim X is old” does not rise to the level of a counter-argument.

Z July 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Nice straw man C. Try to avoid smoking around him.

Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Why would you think that?

Please be specific in telling us who will make which kinds of decisions differently? Some out of staters pick up some bud on a novelty trip to Colorado. Big deal. Medical users in neighbouring states can pick some up in a jiffy if the doc at home is old fashioned.

Where’s the debacle. Please describe it very specifically.

Then if the “debacle” is, say, 1% more Americans will smoke weed once a month (in many previous cases of liberalization the number of users actually declined), you will have to explain to us in concrete terms why it is a good or bad thing if 1% of American adults do or do not smoke marijuana once a month.

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Chris July 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I hope Colorado’s mental health system is ready for a similar boom in demand.

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The Other Jim July 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Come on, now. Pot is harmless medicine! If anything, Colorado will be laying off doctors and therapists because of legalization!

– Every stoner and statist ever

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Z July 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm

This is why localism is appealing to me. If the results of this local experiment are unpleasant, other states will think harder about their policy. Big national, one size fits all policy making encourages magical thinking and allows for blame shifting. If Colorado is brought low by pot smoking schizophrenics, they have only themselves to blame.

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Sir July 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

That used to be called “federalism” or “state’s rights.”

But yeah….having local governments come up with their own policies that others could observe and study used to be an appealing aspect of a the UNITED STATES of America having a smaller federal government.

I am reminded of a similar west coast craze with “direct democracy” in the 90′s. The populist notion of it wore off, and policy makers in the rest of the country could start to discern what was good about it vs. the pit-falls and adopt new rules accordingly.

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Noah Yetter July 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

How much do you want to bet that will happen? Name your terms.

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Dan Weber July 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Some dingbat tried to say that Colorado’s murder rate has fallen by more than half since dope was legalized and http://mic.com/articles/92449/six-months-after-legalizing-marijuana-two-big-things-have-happened-in-colorado But arsons have doubled, oops.

Each side likes to see what they want to see.

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gwern July 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

That sounds good to me. I’ll trade a murder for an arson any day: you can recover from your house burning down, you can’t recover from dying.

(At least, assuming the murder stats reflect deaths from arson – as I would expect since arson is deliberate, but don’t actually know. If arson deaths are counted separately and more people are dying of arson than are not being murdered, then this argument no longer works.)

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Z July 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm

That sounds great until your town is over run by the undead.

dead serious July 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm

LOL at “statist” tag.

Not too bright, are you?

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Brandon July 10, 2014 at 4:42 pm

wait, “statist?” why would the “statist” be pro-legalization and pro-pot?

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Finch July 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I can’t answer for the guy above, but at least around here, the highly vocal pro-legalization folks are some weird alliance of stoners and statists. The actual implementation of legalization is very pro-state, kind of like the state-owned liquor stores you see in some places.

I think there are a lot of moderates who are mildly pro-legalization, but they aren’t driving the bus.

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The Original D July 10, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I live in Colorado. The original petition that I signed in favor of legalization was sold as “regulate marijuana just like alcohol,” which is probably a better sales pitch than “legalize pot.”

C July 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Every stoner and statist ever

So now the people who want to decrease the relative power of the state and increase individual choice are counted as “statists”? What color is the sky in your world?

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Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Okay, let’s toll it up.
Benefits: pretty high, pardon the pun, measured by revealed preference
Negatives: will surely arrive…maybe

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Floccina July 11, 2014 at 11:34 am

Psychology is one of the most popular majors in the USA.Time to let them practice their chosen trade.

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Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Evidence that brainwashing works.

If you repeat unfounded lies and propaganda enough times, in enough different ways, eventually some people will believe it.

Land of the free! Free to believe BS propaganda!

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NPW July 10, 2014 at 12:40 pm

When people have to get up and go to work, they are less likely to use marijuana or alcholol, unless they have a habit of excessive consumption.

Not sure what we are pondering. This study seems too affirm the obvious conclusion.

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Greg July 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm

“This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated,” Colorado’s study concluded.
And this, which I think suggests the laws in other states are binding for many consumers:
Colorado concluded that visitors account for 44 percent of recreational marijuana retail sales in the Denver area. In the mountains and other vacation spots, visitors to Colorado account for 90 percent of recreational dispensary traffic.

That demand is larger than previously thought may not suggest laws are biding; it may suggest previous estimates of demand of a black market product were not particularly accurate.

Similarly, that 90% of demand in the vacation spots is from visitors may suggest that 90% of total retail sales in vacation spots is from…..vacationeers. As someone living in a Rocky Mountain ski town (not in Colorado), it does strike me as implausible that 90% of the, say, alcohol sales in town would be from tourists. 90% seems high, but completely unreasonable.

It would be interesting to compare prices in tourist areas with metro Denver.

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Greg July 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Does NOT strike me as implausible.

And binding, not biding.

No, I am not part of the seventy percent of market demand. Of the remaining 30%. I just type like am.

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Rich P July 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm

I do think it’s implausible that 90% of the alcohol sales in a tourist area would be to vacationers – but 90% of the OTC pot sales seem totally plausible. Presumably the local smokers already have a local hookup.

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Marie July 11, 2014 at 12:01 am

That’s exactly right.

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John Mansfield July 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I wonder what this is doing to marijuana sales in neighboring states. What’s the price difference now between Boulder and Laramie?

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Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Kevin Smith smokes every day and I’m convinced he is on podcasts and live shows and movie sets that somehow total more than 24 hours a day.

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Sam Haysom July 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Kevin Smith is like the poster child for the burnt out formerly promising young director. If you had told him after clerks came out that he would be hosting a show on I think AMC and lame podcasts about comic books he most probally would have thought damn I probally shouldn’t have smoked as much weed.

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Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Well, wrong, but okay.

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Sam Haysom July 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm

No your right Kevin isn’t a complete joke who got kicked off a plane for being too fat. And I’m sure jay and silent bob strike back is going to be in the criterion collection any day now.

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Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Your criterion is pretty weird. Your baseline is that Kevin Smith should have accomplished the 1 in a hundred million rather than the 1 in 50 million, and he didn’t because he started smoking marijuana 6 years ago, then created a few TV shows, directed several movies, and Invented a podcast network, wrote two comic book mini-series, etc.

dead serious July 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I was actually going to go the other way and wonder whether Clerks wasn’t the outlier and the rest of his oeuvre is more the caliber of his natural output whether on or off the potski.

But yeah, what you said too.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

You guys are going here? And with the snark?

dead serious July 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Mine wasn’t meant to be snarky. He’s clearly ‘successful’ by any Western definition – I’m just not sure whether his true level is Clerks or Comic Book Men: Clerks being awesome and Comic Book Men sucking eggs (but still making him bank).

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

It’s the productivity.

Comic Book men came out of the podcast network he invented.

collin July 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm

It is hard to say Kevin is a shiny example of smoking dope does not hinder your potential. (I would suggest The Beatles Rubber Soul as a better example.) In all reality, Kevin has made one great movie, Clerks, and has been lame since the last 14 years or so. Maybe Clerks is the true outlier because of how and when it was made. Making a very cheap movie about 90s slackers hit paydirt and in no way can replicated. So Clerks was good, but not great film-making but still be a great film. Let us say it is historically similar to Sweet Badasssss…., Intolerance, Greed, Shaft (1971), Breathless (1959, and sorry I don’t like Goddard), Death Race 2000, Texas Chainsaw (1974), Saturday Night Fever, The Thin Man (1934), and maybe Michael Bay movies…

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm

It’s not hard at all, I just said it.

It’s funny how people are on this roll. It has nothing to do with how good his movies were.

He’s only directed 2 movies while using marijuana, only one has come out.

The point is he can direct movies and do a hell of a lot more than anyone here.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm

There aren’t many people who talk about their pot use.

I talk about the one who does.

If Michael Bay smoked pot…at least he’d have an excuse.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Oh, and from what I gather Smith was kicked off the plan for Southwest being douche fucks. My guess is they have no reason not to try to sell two tickets if they can.

Again, it’s neither here nor there on the subject at hand.

Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Maybe because some @#)$ like you on some board somewhere said the same thing, and that’s why a 1 in 10 million guy gets relegated to a 1 in 1 million situation.

Actually, I don’t know anything about the guy. I’m talking about the principle of what could happen to hard working and well deserving people when there are people like you around.

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Mike July 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Regular marijuana users quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, which requires them to use more in order to achieve the desired effect. Perhaps this is why daily users comprise so much of the total.

People who smoke infrequently can become quite intoxicated with very small amounts – say, an amount similar in volume to a pea. Heavy users might smoke multiple joints a day. I would not be terribly surprised to see a hundredfold difference here over the course of a month.

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Blaise July 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Pretty much the same with every drug.

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Mark Thorson July 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Like those 10-cup-a-day coffee drinkers or those 10-pack-a-day cigarette smokers. They’re the ones who buy most of it.

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Rahul July 11, 2014 at 2:24 am

Makes me wonder: physiologically is that a given?

I know the receptors go into saturation with most drugs etc. but is it possible to come up with drug that has no tolerance effect? i.e. Could there be a designer drug that gives you a constant high for ever without a dosage increase?

Just wondering if this is possible or fundamentally not.

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bellisaurius July 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

Heh. If it wasn’t, marriage would be a sex filled orgy all the time.Or, so I’ve heard from other people…

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collin July 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I wonder if marijuana is going down the same road as Casino tax and money dollars. States are now seeing all these dollars in Colorado and put it on the ballot to only find the dollars are not nearly as high as each state goes legal. Say New Mexico legalizes it and find out their ‘tourist’ trade hardly went up.

At this point, I bet a lot of 44% of outside residents are going across state lines. I remember the 1970s when it was a big deal to have Coors beer on the East Coast. We have a ready made re-imaging of Smokey And The Bandit!

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msgkings July 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Don’t even need to change the title….’Smokey’ indeed.

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Joe July 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I see a lot of mood affiliation here.

Most jobs are non-cognitive & routine. I know plenty of college educated people who smoke regularly and function just fine. Everyone seems to think, at least here at MR, that if your not learning to code at night your inevitably going to become a Zero Marginal Product worker that will be dead to the real world in no time.

Most people would still be shocked to realize how many people they know and deal with at work who are highly functioning and consume weed on a regular basis.

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Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I take it all back, marijuana is the worst.

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Urso July 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm

“Most people would still be shocked to realize how many people they know and deal with at work who are highly functioning and consume weed on a regular basis.”
Drug users constantly make this claim. Not just about weed, but cocaine and I’m sure other things too. I’m not sure if it’s selection bias (no one I know voted for him!) or rationalization (everyone else is doing it too!)

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msgkings July 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

In the case of marijuana I think it’s valid. The other stuff far less so.

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Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Of course it is valid for marijuana, despite the government lying and outlawing evidence.

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Urso July 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

“In the case of marijuana I think it’s valid. The other stuff far less so.” So let me guess, you smoke marijuana but don’t use any other drugs?

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Urso July 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Clarify that I don’t think this is limited to drugs. Everything thinks that whatever it is they do is much more widely popular/common than it really is. Drugs is just the topic du jour.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I’ve never used any illegal drugs.

msgkings July 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm

So let me guess, you don’t think marijuana use is far more prevalent than other illegal drugs?

msgkings July 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

@ Andrew’: If pot gets legalized where you live, will you try it?

Urso July 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm

“So let me guess, you don’t think marijuana use is far more prevalent than other illegal drugs?”
My wholly uninformed guess would be that it’s #2, behind prescription painkillers (quasi-illegal drugs I guess). And there’s probably a pretty big gap between those 2 and #3. Still doesn’t answer the question why it’s so important for people who use drugs to believe everyone else is using drugs too.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Eventually, maybe. It might be preferable to popping Ibuprofens, for example.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Wait, are you selling? What’s a dime bag go for these days?

Z July 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Well, it depends. I have little problem spotting the guy who likes to party, but I grew up around it and live around it. If you grew up in SWPL-ville and never had exposure to it, then you probably would be surprised to know your cubicle-mate is a drug user.

That said, potheads tend think they are less conspicuous than is the case.

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msgkings July 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Pot is definitely among the SWPL.

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CD July 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm

The claim could be true, no?

If you turn it around, employment will tend to filter out only the users who cannot function (assuming they’re not making you pee into a jar).

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The D-man July 11, 2014 at 11:57 pm

I’ve been to one of the consumer pot shops in Boulder several times. Unlike with liquor stores, where you just walk in and pick out what you want, you have to wait your turn in a waiting room until your number is called. Then you go into a much smaller room where you can tell the cashier what you want, ask questions about the various products etc. The product is all kept behind the counter.

In the waiting room, there’s a pretty broad distribution of age and apparent socioeconomic status. Lots of twenty-somethings, but also people in their thirties, forties, fifties and older. They don’t generally look like burnout potheads, and some are professionally dressed (which is something considering how casual Boulder is – “business casual” here means no flip-flops).

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Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:58 pm

It would almost lead some people to wonder if all these stories about weed rotting the brain out are BS.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm

This is not surprising and was very predictable. The prime example is The Netherlands. The de facto legalization of cannabis would have been without major problems there were it not for the growing number of marijuana tourists which are not exactly the best crowd to target as visitors. The Netherlands has had to adjust its policy to counteract the negative effects that tourism brought. Colorado will continue to have problems, especially if the contiguous states do not follow the legalization route.

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Scott cunningham July 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Colorado will continue to have problems, especially if the contiguous states do not follow the legalization route.

What are the Colorado problems that you’re thinking of? I have actually only been hearing people claim positives (even if they are unwarranted claims) about how the experiment affected Colorado. What are you referring to, though?

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Vivian Darkbloom July 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I’m referring to the idea that if the sole purpose of visitors coming to Colorado is to buy dope and get high, that isn’t a particularly desirable element that is visiting your state. Perhaps your ideal is different or you’ve been talking to the wrong folks. I cited the example of the Netherlands as one that went through this type of thing, learned its lessons and had to adjust its policy accordingly. Drug tourism is not the kind of tourism a state should strive for.

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Sean P. July 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I’d say that the overlap between “people who would like to visit Colorado” and “people who smoke pot” was relatively large long before legalization. Save this worry for when Delaware legalizes marijuana.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Who are you quoting with “people who would like to visit Colorado”? Yourself? What have you been smoking? My referral was people who visit Colorado for the sole purpose of buying dope and getting high. The original post indicated that visitors to Colorado account for 90 percent of recreational sales. So, your conclusion is that all those people who account for 90 percent of the recreational visited Colorado for other reasons? That doesn’t seem likely to me.

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Brandon July 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm

How many people travel to Colorado to snowboard every winter? And how many of those same people might like to indulge in some legal pot back at the lodge instead of a drink or two? I’m pretty sure I saw a pot shop in Breckenridge when I was there this winter.

I’d imagine the crossover into the summer for hikers/backpackers who would also indulge into some legal pot isn’t too shabby, either.

Sean P. July 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

The point is that Colorado already attracts pot smokers for other reasons, so many of the “marijuana tourists” are likely to be (relatively) harmless snowboarders, backpackers, river rafters, etc. Certainly this doesn’t mean that every non-resident buying marijuana is a hiker making an extra stop between the brewery and the trailhead but it does mean that Colorado is different from many other states in this respect. Do you think there is a similar overlap between people who like to smoke pot and people who find the canals of Amsterdam to be ever-so-charming in the springtime?

Timothy July 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Are you kidding me? When it was on the ballot I remember the governor saying the didn’t want the state taking on a reputation as pot-friendly. I laughed because even under prohibition it was already too late.

Andrew' July 10, 2014 at 7:52 pm

“Pot-friendly”?

Is that like 3 Beer Pretty?

Timothy July 10, 2014 at 10:19 pm

No, it’s like a relatively high rate of Coloradans and visitors to Colorado are getting high.

C July 11, 2014 at 6:53 am

I’m referring to the idea that if the sole purpose of visitors coming to Colorado is to buy dope and get high, that isn’t a particularly desirable element that is visiting your state.

This is silly. Colorado is a geographically large state with a fairly high population and has had a sizable tourist industry with many millions of visitors annually for a long, long time.

The claim that such a jurisdiction would actually be “overrun” by stoners is novel but still wrong. Just because a subculture of wine-lovers visit Napa and Sonoma doesn’t change the basic character of California and, if anything, it moderately enhances it.

I hope you’re not one of these single-digit-IQ conservatives who believes that Amsterdam is hell on Earth. Yes, there are seedy parts. So what? It’s still a gem of a city with a higher living standard than 99% of the planet and an absence of social problems that plague the entirety of the continental US (e.g., lack of gun violence and existence of a decent healthcare system–even for the poor).

tl;dr – Your strongly held dogma is making you impervious to facts.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

C,

We certainly have a lot of reactionary comments here.

“I hope you’re not one of these single-digit-IQ conservatives who believes that Amsterdam is hell on Earth.”

Actually, C, I lived and worked in Amsterdam almost 20 years. I loved it, except for the weather. I have nothing per se against the recreational use of marijuana and some other substances, even though, these days, I do try to keep my own contract with reality.

The problem Amsterdam (and other Dutch cities, particularly on its borders) experienced with its policy was not the locals who tended not to indulge or over-indulge. The problem was created by those single-digit IQ idiots, likely of a progressive persuasion, who started coming to town solely for the purpose of getting high. Like wide-eyed frat kids on their first trip to Europe and you strike me as a prime candidate for that cohort. These folks started passing out all over the streets and added little to the ambience of the city, much less its economy. If you want to have a faux hippie experience, I would rather you go to the Haight and engage your adolescent fantasies there.

As for Colorado, I wish them well. But, as I indicated in my initial post, if you were not too high to read and comprehend it, the problem is drug tourism, which is only exacerbated by the fact that Colorado’s neighbors have yet to follow suit.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 11, 2014 at 8:48 am

Or, try Venice Beach.

C July 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

I’ve been to the Netherlands (den Haag, Leiden, Delft, and Amsterdam) and I’ve been to Colorado. They’re both nice places but they have very little in common. Someone else mentioned something about the logistics of coming from, say, Belgium, Britain, or Germany to the Netherlands as compared to getting your ass over to Denver from, say, upstate New York.

In a state as large as Colorado, a few thousand “drug tourists” (whether they’re “problem users” or merely “cannabis enthusiasts”) isn’t going to make the place unlivable. It won’t even make Denver unlivable.

Are there people who destroy their lives using cannabis? Sure. There are also people who destroy their lives through wine. Are the aesthetics of marijuana sales potentially objectionable? Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

The real “adolescent fantasy,” common both to Drug Warriors and Stoners is the idea that some perfect law will create a problem-free society.

I enjoy your creative projections!

Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:57 pm

You wouldn’t get the extremes of Amsterdam 10-15 years ago, for example, if things were generally more sensible in more places. You wouldn’t get the convergence of so many experience-hungry youth landing up in the same place under the heads “sex, drugs and whatever else we can find to go with more or those…”

Peldrigal July 13, 2014 at 1:03 am

In Pisa (and it’s a problem in Florence too) we had to scrape an American transfer student from the bottom of the river Arno almost every summer. Kids got excited that they could drink before 21. But not for that anybody ever called for restriction on alcohol sales.

Urso July 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Theory: Europe is small and getting to Amsterdam is easy. Even the dregs can afford it. America is big and Colorado is relatively isolated. It’s also hellaciously expensive (at least the tourist parts are). Therefore you’ll get fewer dregs. Maybe trustafarians.

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Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:54 pm

It’s not open to tourists anymore. Technically.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 12, 2014 at 4:19 am

Why is it not open to tourists anymore, do you suppose? If it were good for its cities and its economy they would not have made the change, technically or not.

As for your later comment at 9:57, do you think you are agreeing or disagreeing with me?

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Bill July 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I think you will have to wait until the smoke clears to do a credible market study.

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Steven Kopits July 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm

If I read the study correctly, 2% of Colorado’s residents smoke 2/3 of the pot. That, I believe, is what they describe as addiction.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

“If I read the study correctly, 2% of Colorado’s residents smoke 2/3 of the pot”

How do you reconcile that with this quote?:

“visitors to Colorado account for 90 percent of recreational dispensary traffic.”

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Steven Kopits July 10, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Viv -

On p. 3, it says this:

“Summary Points:
This study finds total marijuana demand to be much larger than previously estimated. Our point estimate of demand is 121.4 tons per year for adult residents.”

So, 121 tons for residents, which I think means ‘not visitors’.

On Table 1 above (on p. 2), the “Central Usage Amount” is 121 tons, which appears to be the same amount as in the summary sentence.

On the same table, it shows that 21.8% of users represents 66.9% of demand.

Above that it says: “There are an estimated 485 thousand adult regular marijuana users who consume marijuana at least once per month. This represents 9.0 percent of the 2014 forecast population in Colorado of 5.363 million residents (all ages).”

I take this to mean that 21.8% of 485,000 reg users of 5.363 million residents consume 66.9% of 121 tons. That’s 105,730 heavy users in a population of 5,363,000 residents, representing just less than 2.0% of the population consuming 2/3 of the resident-consumed pot.

I certainly hope you understood that, because I doubt I could repeat it. I checked the number because I found the whole thing confusing. It may still be confusing.

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Vivian Darkbloom July 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Thanks. In reviewing the full report, I think you are correct. The report is, however,very confusing. The 121 tons seems to be an estimate of only resident demand, but I failed to see anything in the report that lists total visitor demand or total demand (in metric tons) from which visitor demand could be deduced. I would think it would have been a straightforward process to determine how much mj was sold through 1) medical mj clinics and 2) retail sales and report that and then estimate as a separate number the estimate of “black market sales”, add the three and arrive at a total. Perhaps I am asking too much.

It would have been interesting to know what percentage of total sales continues to be from black market sources. That number must be imbedded in the totals, but does not seem to be reported separately. Overall, a pretty poor and confusing job from the Colorado Dept of Revenue, in my view.

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Steven Kopits July 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

I agree. Overall, I am a bit surprised at the casualness of reporting around the whole issue. This is a major public policy experiment, and getting baseline and time series data for key variables would seem to me to be a very important task. I would have expected the CDC, ATF or Census or somebody to set up the necessary data capture to be able to determine what impact this policy is having in all its major facets.

But that doesn’t appear to have happened.

Careless July 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm

No, that’s not how addiction is defined.

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Steven Kopits July 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

Careless -

If I have 2% of the population consuming 67% of the pot, then my presumption would be that there is a substance abuse problem affecting a pretty small portion of the population in a pretty significant way. I would want to take a close look at that 2%.

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DMS July 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

Why do you assume so?
Maybe make a value judgment ONLY AFTER “I would want to take a close look at that 2%.”?

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Steven Kopits July 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

DMS -

In real life, you don’t have infinite resources to assess where to look for a problem. So you use what you have available, and try to make a judgment.

For example, even those using pot up to 20 days a month don’t look too bad. But by golly, those using pot more than 20 days a month look pretty heavy. That last group I mentioned, they are smoking literally every day (26-31 days of use per month), and they are smoking on average a joint a day, if I have my math right. (Is that a lot?) So, if there’s a problem, it’s most likely to show up in the super heavy users, not those who use marijuana less than 15 days per month. So that’s where I’d like to look first.

Remember, this is a significant experiment in US social, health and drug policy, so we want to see how it’s playing out. But you’re right, if I were in charge, we’d have statistics out the ying-yang, and we could see better how things were playing out.

I’d add that I don’t have a horse in this race. On the whole, I think drugs are bad; but then again, I regularly have wine with dinner. And I also believe that prohibiting a substance is probably worse than dealing with the side-effects of legalized use. But Colorado is the test case for this hypothesis, so it would be quite important to see what the data actually shows, rather than acting on our a priori conceptions, pro or contra, regarding marijuana.

Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Maybe 2% of the population uses marijuana for medical reasons.

They will generally consume more than 1g per day, as much as 10g or more (generally orally in such cases) in more extreme cases. Not many medical users will consume less than this much.

Perhaps some of them could find better alternatives. Perhaps some non medical users should cut back there consumption. Not really my business, I reckon. That’s coming from a vegetarian who never berates people for eating meat unless they push and prod me into that area of conversation. Their body. Not my choice.

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Careless July 12, 2014 at 1:20 am

OK. But that’s still not how addiction is defined, so so what?

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Steve Sailer July 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Soma

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Marie July 11, 2014 at 12:22 am

Had several comments, but this about sums it.

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andrew' July 11, 2014 at 4:51 am

What does it mean? The brain cell or the dude?

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C July 11, 2014 at 6:57 am

Oh, I’m sorry, I missed the part where cannabis consumption had been made mandatory.

Surely Señor Sailer, widely respected throughout the internet for his intellectual integrity, also believes that beer and wine are Soma?

That’s what I thought.

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Marie July 11, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Colorado is a free thinking state, even the blue parts still had some spark of free thinking left.

By directing the efforts of the independently minded to pot legalization, they kept them busy. By giving in, they bought them out. Plus, tons of money from these free thinkers now flows into the state funds for brainwashing the free thinkers’ children.

Alcohol incapacitates. But it agitates as much as it sedates (reference, whole history of Ireland). Plenty of very nice people might smoke pot. But revolutionaries generally do not, or they don’t stay revolutionaries.

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C July 12, 2014 at 11:38 am

There are lots of assumptions in this post. You know what happens when you assume, right?

I found the part about “free-thinkers” being anesthetized and distracted by legalization efforts to be fanciful. It was a combination of a small group of policy entrepreneurs and a majority of voters that made this happen.

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Marie July 12, 2014 at 12:17 pm

It’s not what I assume, it’s what I see, which makes it anecdotal and wildly subject to error but not fanciful.

Peldrigal July 13, 2014 at 1:05 am

That would be some bold policy I’d really like to see!

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Darren Johnson July 10, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Yes, we again see that the entire medicine angle was just a front for grower start-ups and abusers. Seems to be the case for everything. Pot is a form of currency for service industry workers in my area of the country. Everyone forgets just how easy it is to grow.

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C July 11, 2014 at 7:01 am

Use != abuse

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Marie July 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Maybe not, but selling to users is easily converted into selling for abusers.

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Nathan W July 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Use … your noggin.

Don’t let games of classification and definition fool you into thinking that you can fool science.

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C July 12, 2014 at 3:43 am

A small minority of users appear to be full-on addicts.

So what? It’s their lives…

[Same tired analogy, repeated only b/c it's true: Most alcohol-drinkers aren't drunks...]

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Turkey Vulture July 10, 2014 at 11:18 pm

More anti-legalization sentiment here than I would have expected. Paternalism is alive and well on both the left and the right.

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F. Lynx Pardinus July 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

Well, considering how much outrage explodes here every time MR does one of their admirable “freedom is good, so allow more immigration” posts, I’m really not surprised at the tenor of these comments.

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Anthony Deluca July 11, 2014 at 5:16 am

Less than 20% of drinkers purchase 80% of alcohol. The 70% number is actually lower than one would have predicted base don other drugs.

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Steven Kopits July 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm

For pot in Colorado, it’s 2% consuming 70%.

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C July 12, 2014 at 3:45 am

It’s 21.8% of smokers consuming 70%. Better than alcohol (so far) by 10 percentage points…

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Edward Pierce July 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

The “I told you so” posters are completely right. Things have gotten so bad since legalization. Colorado is a terrible place. No one should come here. It’s a wasteland of drug abuse and terrible weather and you might die from bears. They’re everywhere. You should definitely not come here.

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Peldrigal July 13, 2014 at 1:05 am

Pot smoking bears don’t seem very dangerous…

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Edward Pierce July 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm

The issue is that bears consume marijuana much more often, and more intensely, than other animals.

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