Green Wednesday: Colorado pot shops are opening today

Meanwhile, back in the so-called real world, Colorado is pursuing its legalization experiment to a logical conclusion:

Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1. Officials at Denver International Airport installed new signs warning visitors their weed can’t legally go home with them.

And at a handful of shops, owners were scrambling to plan celebrations, set up coffee stations, arrange food giveaways and hire extra security to prepare for potential crowds and overnight campers ready to buy up to an ounce of legal weed.

While smoking pot has been legal in Colorado for the past year, so-called Green Wednesday represents another historic milestone for the decades-old legalization movement: the unveiling of the nation’s first legal pot industry.

Here are further details on Green Wednesday., including this: “Federal law says the drug’s possession, manufacture, and sale is illegal, punishable by up to life in prison…”  I wonder if this experiment in federalism will survive our next Republican President.  My prediction has long been that this kind of legalization will not persist, but the chance I am wrong has been rising.

Out-of-staters, by the way, can purchase only a quarter ounce at a time and are not supposed to carry the pot outside Colorado borders.  There is also this:

Colorado projects $578.1 million a year in combined wholesale and retail marijuana sales to yield $67 million in tax revenue, according to the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly. Wholesale transactions taxed at 15 percent will finance school construction, while the retail levy of 10 percent will fund regulation of the industry.


Prime mover advantage in N. America! Perhaps the stereotype of Uptitus Americanus is going away. Now if a state that is desperate for tax revenue would only legalize prostitution...

You mean other than Nevada, where it's a local option, not banned by the state? (In practice, it's legal in the rural counties.)

Note that in Nevada, prostitution is fairly heavily regulated, but is not specially taxed. The brothel owners at times have supported special taxation, on the theory that it would further entrench it.

It's a local option only in rural areas. The state bans it in urban areas.

Welcome to the 21st century! Just weeks ago, federal judges struck down Utah's anti-gay-marriage law and gutted their anti-polygamy law (the harshest in the nation). Even Rush Limbaugh says the gay marriage issue is lost. It is inevitable that gay marriage, polygamy, and pot will be legal throughout the nation in the not-too-distant future. Prostitution, on the other hand, was formerly de facto legal, but became illegal following women getting the right to vote. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that one to become legal beyond Nevada.

Prostitution is and has always been de facto legal, less than 1 in 2000 participants are prosecuted. It was de jure outlawed prior to women's suffrage in many areas as part of the temperance movement. However, besides Nevada it remained legal in many areas long past the ratification of the 19th amendment being lawful in Alaska until the 1950s and in Rhode Island into the 21st century.

"remained Rhode Island" is misleading. RI banned prostitution just like everyone else, but accidentally legalized it for 20 years. For the first 10 years, no one noticed that the law had changed and people were routinely convicted of a crime not on the books.

LOL at polygamy legalization. Why not bestiality too?

I suspect most animals involved in bestiality are not willing participants, and clearly cannot provide informed consent regardless.

Speak for yourself, my canaries love it!

Polly wants to get married! I do! I do! SQUAAAWK!


Nah, that's alcohol.

Alcohol is the opposite of soma; it is the fuel of revolutions.

It makes good fuel but definitely not for future "revolutions" in America.

The legislation can persist. Whether the Feds actually prosecute seems to be driven by whims of presidential policy. Not a great situation.

Except for the meme that Obama is an angry black leftist socialist Marxist dictator determined to control every aspect of your personal life, Republicans would be going after Obama as soft on crime and being intent on corrupting America's young by failing to jail all the State officials promoting drug sales.

Obama by reflecting all the strains of Republican factions, religious social conservatives to secular libertarians to anarchists, has made it impossible for Republicans to take a partisan stand on drugs, the NSA, military intervention, security state, ..., in opposition to Obama. Obama has gone beyond triangulation to diffusion.

And Democrats in Congress have taken no stand, following Obama's lead.

Where are the Issa government oversight hearings on Eric Holder failing to arrest governors and legislators for violating and promoting conspiracy to violate Federal drug laws? Apparently those are behind the hearings on the NRC's failure to obstruct the SONGS heat exchanger upgrades that went so disastrously wrong leading to the shutdown of SONGS in Issa's backyard.

Nixon and Reagan both won elections based on promising jackboot Federal drug criminalization of the Democratic drug culture that corrupted your children and made them pacifist, ironic given Democrats being the only ones to start wars in the 20th century. (Until Reagan started a war with the British Commonwealth headed by his close friend the Iron Lady.)

Note the drug legalization and drug trade is all by white people. If the leaders were black or brown with the drug trade dominated by black or brown folk, even if serving 90% white, then the Republican policy position would be more easily joined by the different factions. Now imagine the angry blacks, Obama and Holder using jackboot Federal power against whites for political reasons - drug laws and enforcement are always driven by politics, not rational policy.

Pretty sure Republicans tend to be softer on drugs than Democrats...

Politicians, not voters, of course.

Pretty sure =/= correct

Libertarians yes, Republicans, not so much

Oops - I missed this -

'Wholesale transactions taxed at 15 percent will finance school construction, while the retail levy of 10 percent will fund regulation of the industry.'

So, just like in the Netherlands, this will be an almost exclusively 'retail' business, won't it? For example, each shop being its own 'supplier,' simply paying for the labor and land to grow their own.

It really depends on the next Republican nominee, though as a Republican from a very conservative state living in an almost parodic version of a conservative state, I suspect unless the next Republican is a true drug warrior, not much of anything is going to happen. Eric Holder is far more of a committed drug warrior than any of the potential GOP nominees, and it has become only more politically toxic for him to deal with this as time passes. Remember the GOP eventually realized Prohibition was a hopeless cause too.

Another thing to consider is that enforcement will really go down poorly in the affected states and both legalizing states are potential swing states. If the GOP doesn't win CO they can't win anyway, and WA is not actually that safe a state for the Democrats either.

This. Pot in Colorado won't become a big issue in national elections unless some event causes it to become a national issue (violence, etc, related to the industry). In that case, it won't matter which party is in the White House, and Colorado may even self-regulate.

These policies aren't nearly as entrenched as some seem to think. Sweden used to legally proscribe heroin, now they have some of the toughest laws. Even in the Netherlands, pot is more tightly regulated than is generally believed.

Why would it not persist?

People like me, who grew up playing with pot but don't, are now 40. We know it is less dangerous than booze. There is a strong market for it. Places experimenting with various flavors of legality seem to have no real problems, aside from banking access.

Pretty sure that shark has been jumped. Now it is a matter of states figuring out how they want to tax it.

Are republican presidents a greater threat to state rights and laws than, say, the current administration?

Off the top of my head I know Paul, Perry and Huntsman favored state rights, and that Gingrich didn't think users should be arrested.

Romney and Santorum favored keeping it illegal but I'm not sure they would have gone after the states.

It requires spending lots of political capital to rein in the USAs, AUSAs, DEA, and affiliated law enforcers. Obama was not really willing to do this, just as he wasn't willing to spend political capital reining in ICE on deportations, and as a result a president who probably views immigration and marijuana as low enforcement priorities has presided over all-time highs of marijuana crackdowns and deportations.

So the question is whether a president would spend the political capital to stop the DEA and federal prosecutors from following through on their reason for being employed. That means appointing officials and prosecutors who agree with the new priorities, and firing officials and prosecutors who violate the new policy. Obama is unwilling to do this, so the Ogden memo died on the vine for lack of real support from the president in the face of entrenched bureaucratic opposition. Would Romney or Santorum fire US Attorneys for prosecuting dispensaries that comply with state law? Would they appoint a pro-pot Drug Czar?

At least with Ron Paul, you'd expect a valiant effort at totally eliminating the DEA. With Rand Paul, you might actually get follow through, since he's made new drug priorities a common theme of his. Not sure if Perry or Huntsman would've followed through or not. Maybe the mere fact that a Republican president spoke of restraint would shift the debate and slightly adjust the consensus, but maybe not.

What is Chris Christie's position?

Kind of tough to imagine a Republican having a good chance at winning the presidency by intentionally and publicly flushing his chances at winning Colorado down the toilet.

Imagine Romney.

Then imagine a Tea Party endorsed candidate doing the same thing. Assuming the Tea Party (hehe) remains consistent - a big assumption admittedly.

Does the tax system for recreational marijuana place a minimum price floor on illicit sales? If something sells for $X in a regulated market, won't it sell for $X minus tax in the illicit market? The law also makes local governments enforcing a law simply tax collectors, deserving the respect that tax collectors have received from the time of Christ.

One of my neighbors is an ag economist. I asked him last night at a party: what would be the supply channels (equipment,, etc.) that one would expect to see have an uptick from this change in the law: his response: not much. The reason: he said that marijuana growth is the largest cash crop industry in California for the last 20 years, and the market for supplies is well developed. He left out hope, however, for greenhouse manufacturers and greenhouse suppliers (because stuff in California is grown outdoors), and Colorado garden centers which raise their own houseplants who could convert their greenhouse to alternative uses in Colorado. What will happen to the hothouse cucumber and tomato market? Will there be a begonia shortage next year in Colorado?

The price will drop, and legalization will change the growing market dynamics. This is happening in BC, with diminution of the lucrative US export market as well as the semi legalization through the medical marijuana system. There were large growers, but typically not; 4 lights with 16 plants in a room in the basement was the norm. Some fellows who had been doing this for a long while wet up a medical marijuana operation where they had 300 plants. The price has dropped and driven the small operators out. The Canadian government is setting up a regime where medical marijuana has to be grown and processed like medicine, changing the production market again.

25% tax is a pretty big chunk of money available for someone who is willing to do it under the table, as well as the usual income taxes and other costs of doing business legally.

What is the price elasticity for marijuana? What is the cross price elasticity for other if marijuana prices decline, will prices of substitutes decline as well?

From what I understand there are black market cigarettes available here is Florida.

There are certainly black market cigarettes in New York City, but then again the tax differential is a lot more than 25%.

Mass production is not legal, so you won't see greenhouses/nurseries getting into the business at the expense of their usual fare. Vertical integration from production to retail is basically the only viable business model.

Also not mentioned: our intrepid journalistic community has vastly under-reported in recent decades the incidence of HCV (Hepatitis C virus) infection rates, which now far exceed those of our media's longtime plague-darling, HIV/AIDS. (Someone talented in mathematics or statistics could correlate American media coverage of the two plagues with American perceptions of alcohol toxicity vs. cannabis toxicity: cannabis is virtually non-toxic, according to Dr. Mitch Earleywine's 2002 Understanding Marijuana [OUP], 143f.)

Cannabis prohibition in the US came about with 1937's Federal "Marijuana Tax Act"--a sop to the geniuses who'd helped engineer our beloved 18th Amendment, from the sensible folk who helped engineer our beloved 21st Amendment. Repeal of the 1937 MTA may be a while yet in coming, but with a population of growing millions for whom alcohol consumption would bring only extra dimensions of peril (and higher healthcare costs: treatment regimens for HCV infection hover at c. $90,000, which at least until recently often enough have not proved initially efficacious), the Feds could yet find belated reasons for ending their prohibitions on cannabis cultivation and consumption. ("Conservative moral arguments" that permitted cultivation and consumption of tobacco products for c. 100 years could be adduced as needed to support domestic cannabis industries, since cannabis also is less deleterious to health than tobacco and [technically] less addictive.)

I wonder if this experiment in federalism will survive our next Republican President.

Back in the actual real world, federal prosecutors have done more drug busts of medical marijuana clinics and spent more money going after them for violating federal law (but being legal under state law) under President Obama than under President GWB.

For example from the Naiton::

A June 2013 report issued by Americans for Safe Access found that the DEA had carried out some 270 medical marijuana raids under Obama—twelve more than had been conducted in the previous twelve years combined. It calculated that the Obama administration had spent $300 million “interfering” with state medical marijuana laws in the last four and a half years, outspending the Bush administration (both terms) by $100 million.

Rolling Stone from 2012::

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst."

And don't forget that Colorado's Amendment 64 legalizing pot was endorsed by Pat Robertson, of all people.

I grant that people who only pay attention to Administration speeches and press releases, and ignore the actions and statistics of the federal government might have a different impression, but the reality is that the Obama Administration has been harsher on state-legal federal-illegal pot sales (perhaps because they dislike experiments in federalism?) than the previous Bush Administration.

"I wonder if this experiment in federalism will survive our next Republican President."

I was going to say that's the smartest thing I've read on legal weed in Colorado all year, but I'm going amend that to the smartest thing I've read on legal weed in Colorado EVER.

I don't think President Paul would roll this back. Anybody else, though . . .

There won't be a "President Paul" unless "Paul" is his first name.

I would presume that buyers have to pay cash, as credit card issuers wouldn't want to deal with this.

Similarly, consider two other self-disclosure problems:

1. Truthfully responding to a job application which asks: have you ever illegal substance. More interesting question might be an application in Colorado employers which are part of a national company change drug testing policies just for Colorado.

2. Applying for a security clearance.

I had thought of the effect on the armed services and similar government agencies. Do they just stop recruiting in Colorado and Washington?

Next Colorado Air Force Academy scandal.

It doesn't matter if it is legal, the military can still ban any activity it choses. The military is also fairly lax, and so are clearances, about past behavior.

If you are in the military in Colorado, what do you think their attitude will be about current behaviour, not past behaviour?

Well the first one is easy. Since the 14th amendment, it has always been legal to self-medicate and I can't be responsible if the attorneys general have lied under oath for longer than I've been alive and federal judges misinterpreted the law. Even as a matter of statute law, it has only been "controlled", not illegal.

"I would presume that buyers have to pay cash, as credit card issuers wouldn’t want to deal with this. "

Perhaps there is a floor on Bitcoin's price. Or more probably, Zerocoin.

This is correct. The largest business challenge faced by both medical and retail marijuana shops is that no bank will take their money.

Chapter 2: Where did all our tax revenue go?

December 2014, the Colorado State Revenue Office submits the 2015 tax revenue forecast and attributes a $17mm shortfall to "below plan marihuana tax collection", stating "people aren't buying as much pot as we thought". In related news, the legislature has passed an appropriation raising marihuana taxes 5.7% and authorizing an additional 100 "revenue inspectors".

Next they will have TV commercials, funded by the state, to promote weed consumption, just as they do for state lotteries, for the purpose of increasing tax revenues.

"I wonder if this experiment in federalism will survive our next Republican President."

Nullification: It's OK when it's something I support.

Doesn't everybody more or less believe that? The early Republicans were big nullification supporters in the late 1850s, with Republican judges promising total nonenforcement of the fugitive slave act and Wisconsin Republicans threatening open nullification of it. When they thought the Democrats and the Slave Power controlled the Congress (especially the Senate), Republicans were fierce decentralists. When the Democrats were obliterated by the withdrawal of the Southern Congressmen, and the Slave Power was smashed by war, the triumphant Republicans started flexing their centralist muscles and called for Johnson's impeachment for blocking their legislation.

no, not everyone support that. Just hardcore GOP and Dems, which really only comprise maybe half of the voting age electorate.

This the most brainwashed and programmed demographic in america.

The rest of america is fairly sane.

>The rest of america is fairly sane.


The rest of america is fairly sane.

The rest of America does not vote.

If millions of people start seeing an intoxicant as more or less normal and more or less safe, as was true with alcohol in the 20s and is true of marijuana today, then it's prohibition that has trouble lasting. The main reason that marijuana has remained illegal so long was successfully tying it to drugs like heroin and crack which are not viewed as harmless by large numbers of people, and before that its association with other unpopular groups like hippies and black jazz musicians. But today lots of people see it not as a gateway to heroin and crack (despite constant threats from the ONDCP that a single use of marijuana mandates a lifetime of gutter-bound crack addiction) and not as affiliated with dangerous or unpopular elements of society, but just as something that relatively indulgent young people do for recreation.

It's not really plausible to say that marijuana is so horrible when we're set for twenty fours years of presidents who consumed it without real consequence. Legalization (or decriminalization) is almost inevitable under that situation, given the obvious incongruity of government arresting young people for doing something the three most recent presidents all did, even if it must happen glacially.

MJ legalization is democracy in action, not federalism. Both Washington and Colorado have the democratic right to create their own laws without interference by the elite.

Aint that just horrible!?

Funny how the corporate media and the sycophant blogosphere don't seem to focus too much on that aspect of it--the democracy aspect of it.

The use of the word 'federalism' as you used it is a misnomer. Federalism is when for example unelected federal judges get to decide what laws americans have to live by.

Democracy is when the citizens of colorado and washington create their own laws.

>Democracy is when the citizens of colorado and washington create their own laws.

And what do you call it when the elected representatives on Capitol Hill create their own laws?

they don't create their own laws on Capitol Hill--they create the laws desired by the corporations and the wealthy.

Didn't you read madison's federalist papers and his notes on the constitutional convention? The structure and components of the federal govt (Capitol Hill == fed govt) is meant is "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority" and to preserve wealth inequality.

That is straight from the words written by the "father of the constitution."

The founding plutocrats installed the federal govt to thwart the "excess of democracy" (quote from elbridge gerry) that was occurring in the several states.

Democracy still happens in the states and oligarchy happens on Capitol Hill, just as the founding plutocrats meant.

When I first moved to San Francisco about 10 years ago, I remember seeing two emaciated men walk into a medical marijuana place. It was near the Castro, and one man held the door for the other. I made the assumption that these were two gay men dying of HIV/AIDS who wanted the pot to either ease their death or to possibly increase their appetite and to help them fight it. These places have popped up in more and more places in the city and in California. If the HIV epidemic had never happened, would pot legalization have gotten this far?

Interesting. I never made a connection between the HIV epidemic and medical marijuana.

One other thought is that this movement seems to be going against the general trends. Alcohol consumption in the US has been dropping for a long time ( and tobacco use too ( Anybody else remember when people used to smoke on airplanes? You can't smoke in most public places anymore.

It doesn't seem like this idea will spread, but I could be wrong.

I was thinking the same thing. Marijuana smoke is more offensive to non-smokers than tobacco smoke. Eventually, this will go out of political favor as people will get tired of the tokers stinking up the neighborhood. It will be just a matter of time when this will be criminalized in a similar way that tobacco is today.

You don't have to smoke in order to consume. There are lots of edible products on the market. In 10 years I suspect the vast majority of legal marijuana will be in smokeless products. Buying it the same way as raw tobacco makes about much sense as... buying raw tobacco - a niche market at best.

"Marijuana smoke is more offensive to non-smokers than tobacco smoke."

No one I know thinks this. No one. I certainly don't.

The amount of smoke a typical pothead generates versus a typical smoker seems very different.

Also, both smoking & drinking seem on a trend down from ubiquitous to recreational. With pot, it's more up from verboten to recreational.

The pot legalization movement doesn't seem so anti-trend if you look at them all moving towards allowing responsible occasional use.

Good points. Tobacco use seems to be moving to the e-cigarette variety to avoid the carcinogens, so I predict that is where this is headed too.

So, to paraphrase, pot and tobacco/alcohol are converging to trend.

Not sure if Colorado is a tipping point or not, but I see it as a huge step toward mainstream acceptance of legalized pot. I don't think a Republican president will make much of a difference. The winds are blowing Libertarian. No Republican in their right mind will oppose legalized marijuana if they want to win a general election. Think about it -- legalized marijuana is the one issue that resonates with young voters and can be accepted (or at least rationalized) by freedom loving conservatives.

What are you smoking? Has this stopped them from legally banning abortions or someone's choice of spouse? The Southern elderly and rural and religious right base is living in a different world.

There are actually anti abortion/pro drug legalization people out there. You might be surprised.

Name a few politicians in this group. Surprise me.

Rand Paul & Paul Ryan, to name two obvious politicians in that group.

Were you seriously asking? Or just crafting a narrative that fits your mood affiliation?

You outed Ryan! I'll quote you as the source to Paul Ryan, who is in the same congressional district as a minister friend who knows him and let her tell her flock of his position.

"The winds are blowing Libertarian."

No, they're not. No Libertarian who considers the government to be a tyrannical regime and themselves a rugged individualist would have done the hard work of standing on a street corner, getting enough signatures to put the amendment on the ballot. Pot is only legal in Colorado thanks to the virtues of civic engagement and collective action, and even then it's regulated well beyond what a Libertarian would tolerate with their light bulbs.

"The winds are blowing Libertarian." Yeah, hot winds with a vague odor of sulfur....

y'all continue to confuse libertarians with anarchists. Many of the libertarians I know love petitions, of course a good chunk of them are afraid to sign them these days, but they love them.

Well your friend are not "real" Libertarians then.

And I'm sorry....but the only thing I've heard from Libertarians on this subject is a bunch of complaining about the regulations. A 12 plant limit? WHUT? Can't smoke in public? Tyranny! A 15% tax? Theft!

Pot is legal in Colorado thanks to the liberals in Denver and Boulder. Your welcome, Libertarians.

We really need a name for the reverse No True Scotsman fallacy, for describing classes of people one hates.

I think the No True Libertarian fallacy would be good, but it would force Left and Right to sort of admit that they do this to libertarians all the time. So I am taking nominations here...

"We really need a name for the reverse No True Scotsman fallacy"

Nah, we just need Libertarians to stop saying "That's not what I believe" when it's revealed that what they believe is unpopular, unworkable, or just plain absurd.

I agree with Roy. You are just painting all Libertarians with a broad brush.

"Well your friend are not “real” Libertarians then"

And you don't need another name. That is a No True Scotsman fallacy, even if it's used offensively vs defensively, it's still a silly logical fallacy.

Pot is legal in Colorado thanks to the liberals in Denver and Boulder.

No thanks to the state's Democratic governor, or to most of the Democratic Party or Republican Party politicians in the state, who opposed it. I know Tom Tancredo and Pat Robertson supported it-- the pro campaign doesn't list any supporters more prominent than them.

However, while I am certainly glad that liberal voters supported it, it also appears that few people would change their vote for politicians based on the issue.

"You are just painting all Libertarians with a broad brush."

OK. Let me narrow my brush and get to the heart of the matter. A Libertarian is more likely to take some kind of symbolic, not-very-helpful action, say, go to a Tea Party rally or light up at the Smoke-In on the Capital Steps. They are philosophically disinclined to organize, finance, and run the kind of "tax and regulate" campaign that eventually legalized weed in this state.

"No thanks to the state’s Democratic governor, or to most of the Democratic Party or Republican Party politicians in the state, who opposed it."

No thanks to politicians, period. Tom Tancredo included. He could be a pretty effective advocate for legalization, but that's not the issue he cares most about, and his advocacy for those issues reduces his effectiveness as a whole.

California's medical marijuana law is a de-facto legalization. I've never heard of someone "turned down" for a recommendation from a doctor, and many doctors have practices 100% dedicated to MJ recommendations.

Murder rates are down in CA as well...

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