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The Pessimistic Take on Marijuana Legalization

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Samuel Smith Posted: Wed, Nov 7 2012 7:02 AM

Being the forum that I'm posting this on, I don't doubt I'll be the first one to have these concerns.

 - Harder to avoid the Government in marijuana trade. Before, if you wanted to buy some weed, you just had to ignore the Government. This is going to become a much harder practice, now that much of the supply will be controlled by the state.

 - It gives cops another reason to search you. These laws do not allow for unlimited weed, they specify certain amounts. Before a cop would stop you before, they had to have some suspicion (taken with a pinch of salt). Now, you're smoking a joint in public, and its legal, but could that be grounds for a search? In case you have more than your allocated amount? Someone obviously possessing some weed is far more likely to hold over the legal limit than somebody who isn't obviously possessing any weed... will that develop into "grounds for reasonable suspicion"?

 - It could turn irregular interstate checkpoints into regular or even permenant warrantless-search bases. Would you even be able to leave Colorado or Washington without going through a TSA checkpoint? All surrounding states will comply with federal law, and continue the complete ban on marijuana, and the Feds are going to want to "penalize" these two states as much as possible.

- It gives the state more of your money. Obviously, marijuana is going to be highly taxed (I believe the Washington bill has a 25% tax at manufacturer, wholesale, and retail), and that money's just going to go into welfare programs and enforcing all those unjust laws.

Any other problems that I've missed?

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You hit em all sad

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Dang, reading over that post, my English is terrible.

That's what happens when you spend your life communicating with those who speak Chinglish.

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Cortes replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 2:11 PM

Do we also have any reason to believe the quality of weed we're getting will be of a higher standard?

Will the drug gangs be in any way hampered by this if the police element is actually going to get stronger due to your above reason? I'd argue that the cartels' powers would only be expressed in different avenues through the black market. People like to argue that with legalization the power of gangs will be curtailed, but with this pseudo-legalization I am skeptical.

We might just end up with the worst of both worlds, as usual.

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hashem replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 2:33 PM

It explicitly prohibits public use and/or display of marijuana. Worse than alcohol, you can't even publicly enjoy it in any "brown bag" sense.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 2:34 PM

I do think that it's important to note that (in theory, we have to assume that the feds don't actually crack down on this) people have still gained another freedom, and it's a first step.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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It explicitly prohibits public use and/or display of marijuana. Worse than alcohol, you can't even publicly enjoy it in any "brown bag" sense.

You can still eat it in public!  And they can't even tell!

"The Fed does not make predictions. It makes forecasts..." - Mustang19
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Cortes replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 2:56 PM

Neodoxy,

the fact that some political leaders have responded in some form to the deconstruction of the 'official story' of the Drug War as it pertains to marijuana, that is indeed a huge change.

People are never going to go back to "Reefer Madness" thinking, so a thread of State propaganda has been irreparably seen as illegitimate.

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Well I hope it's a case of the camel's nose getting inside the tent.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

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hashem replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 3:06 PM

True. In any event, get a load of this:

The initiative creates three new excise taxes to be collected by the WSLCB:
Excise tax equal to 25% of the selling price on each sale between licensed producer and licensed processor. Paid by the producer.

Excise tax equal to 25% of the selling price on each sale of usable marijuana/marijuana infused product from a licensed processor to a licensed retailer. Paid by the processor.

Excise tax equal to 25% of the selling price on each licensed retail sale of usable marijuana/marijuana infused product. Paid by the retailer. This tax is in addition to any/all applicable general, state, and local sales and use taxes, and is part of the total retail price.

Do the math. Something that right now costs $100 (less really, because right now no producers/distributers pay license/fee costs) is going to cost $200. $100 of that goes straight to the government, not to the marijuana industry market.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Groucho replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 3:29 PM

Samuel Smith:

 - Harder to avoid the Government in marijuana trade. Before, if you wanted to buy some weed, you just had to ignore the Government. This is going to become a much harder practice, now that much of the supply will be controlled by the state.

How will the state manage to "control" most of the the supply? If the regulations are too tight or the taxes too high, a local black market will thrive quite well with the many gowing operations that remain underground (figuratively speaking). Even the above ground operations cannot be controlled completely in terms of exactly how much is being grown, allowing for diversion.

Samuel Smith:

 - It gives cops another reason to search you. These laws do not allow for unlimited weed, they specify certain amounts. Before a cop would stop you before, they had to have some suspicion (taken with a pinch of salt). Now, you're smoking a joint in public, and its legal, but could that be grounds for a search? In case you have more than your allocated amount? Someone obviously possessing some weed is far more likely to hold over the legal limit than somebody who isn't obviously possessing any weed... will that develop into "grounds for reasonable suspicion"?

Nope. Oddly enough this is one case where precedence is on our side.

In Massachusetts, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana was decriminalized (meaning it was reduced from a "criminal offense" to a "civil offense"), the supreme court ruled that neither the smell of burning marijuana or seeing paraphernalia was sufficient grounds for "reasonable suspicion" that a larger quantity (exceeding the legal threshold) was present.

http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/2011/ma-reefer.asp
In this case, the cop had observed the "perpetrators" in a car, sharing a cigar, and he could smell marijuana. Since there was only evidence that a civil offense was going on - and not a criminal offense - the evidence obtained (a crack pipe and a confession!) in a subsequent search was ruled inadmissible. Score 1 for the good guys!

I think TSA checkpoints around the states' perimeters is a dystopian fantasy unlikely to be realized. There are already states where things such as fireworks, lottery tickets, porn, etc. are banned and there are not extensive federal checkpoints to protect them from their neighbors who lack such prohibitions.

As far as the arguments that it will "cripple the cartels", I agree it's a bit of an exagerration. There will continue to be a thriving trade in cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstacy, etc. But quite simply the black market importers will be unable to compete with the in-state producers' production costs on marijuana. It is, after all, plant matter - and a smelly one at that - that is bulkier and more difficult to conceal and transport than powder drugs.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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There are a lot of problems with it, but ultimately it's better than the previous situation. Or is it? I don't know, I don't know how many people get locked up for marijuana consumption, but I've heard it's quite a lot.

"Nutty as squirrel shit."
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I'd still buy it on the DL.  Just say "no" to the man.

"The Fed does not make predictions. It makes forecasts..." - Mustang19
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Anenome replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 4:51 PM

It's a step in the right direction to decriminalize it even in part. For that we should be happy. Same with allowing gay marriage while still licensing it.

Secondly, the various taxes will continue to create a black market, but the stigma of use will be largely gone, meaning it will contribute to the notion among the general public that taxes on marijuana are arbitrary, thus leading to a breakdown in public trust of law-making institutions as they crack down on free use.

I suggest that a libertarian's general attitude should be to applaud and approve each step towards our preferred outcome while continuing to advocate for the full implementation of the corollaries of freedom in all spheres of life.

So this then is a good development. All it means for us is that our argument changes slightly in that environment. Rather than arguing the idiocy of banning drugs, we can now attack the claim of a right to tax it and the other remaining usage controls.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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Groucho replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 5:17 PM

Buzz Killington:

I don't know how many people get locked up for marijuana consumption, but I've heard it's quite a lot.

An arrest every 30 seconds for violating marijuana laws.

Of the 43,000+ people incarcerated every year, 25% are for drug law violations.

War on Drugs Clock (kind of like the US Debt Clock, but derived from arrest statistics in 2009)

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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I'm hopeful, but not for the same reasons you are. I think as far as legalizing it goes, so far it's actually strengthened the state through tax revenue and further surveillance. I agree that with the stigma being gone (or on it's way out), it will be good in the long run. But I don't think the current laws will do much to further freedom. Also, don't forget cigarettes. The taxes on cigarettes is unbelievably high. There is still the possibility of marijuana being legal but still having high taxes. The only way I see marijuana taxes being low is if taxes in general get lowered. I don't think marijuana will get special treatment.

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Anenome replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 5:25 PM

Thing about mairjuana has been it's exceptionally easy to cultivate. That's why it could never be controlled. People with potted plants in the back yard, etc. Unlike tobacco say, or cocaine.

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It'll be really great when the tobacco companies attempt to patent a genetic strain in the plant (Thanks Monstanto!) and start selling joints with all sorts of additives.  Then, people can pay taxes on that too!

"The Fed does not make predictions. It makes forecasts..." - Mustang19
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Cortes replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 5:48 PM

I'm reading about this on Volokh, and people are bringing up the Supremacy Clause rearing its bloated head in courtrooms of the future.

 

Unfortunately, the fact that the drug war is wrong and stupid and awful has little to do with its prospects for political survival. I, too, have never "lost" an argument when I was speaking against the prohibition of consensual crimes. Last year, I was invited to lecture a group of cops and FBI agents, and I spent a fair amount of my time condemning the drug war, especially the damage it's done to their own profession.

Nearly everyone seemed to agree, and certainly no one took up my invitation to defend the status quo. But when it comes time to plan and act and organize, I know those men and women will almost all ignore their conscience in favor of their interests, narrowly defined.

The drug war started as a moral crusade and a public health initiative. It survives as a jobs program, and even more than that, as a potent demonstration of state power over individual lives. You've heard of credo quia absurdum? The motto of the drug warriors could very well be given as: "I support this because if the state has such an absurd power, then it has power without limit." As matters now stand, any cop can go into any urban ghetto and drop a bag into the pocket of anyone he doesn't like. Those with no "credibility" (i.e., the poor) have no choice but to take the ride and the rap. Ultimately, the only limiting factor is the capacity of the paddy wagons.

You think they're just gonna give that up?

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Groucho replied on Wed, Nov 7 2012 8:15 PM

You think they're just gonna give that up?

Ultimately, yes. From senescence if nothing else. Start moving the leeches to another sector of leviathan and don't fill vacancies.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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hashem replied on Thu, Nov 8 2012 8:55 AM

Lol, I don't know why I don't default to assuming mass corruption as often any more. It's the fundamental given in societies with a class allowed to use violence.

Obviously, if the state government finds you annoying, or somehow a threat to their friends (you use your profit to promote anarchism and expose corruption, for example) they can simply tell the federal government to come wreck your life.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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xahrx replied on Thu, Nov 8 2012 9:43 AM

Just get a cigarette rolling machine and roll your own and stick em in a Marlboro box or something.  Not fool proof, but unless someone is intent on finding you and localizing the smell, you'd likely be okay.  I have several friends who did/do this, works like a charm for the most part.  My solution, when I still used weed, was far more elegant: brew tea and stick it in a Snapple bottle, or generic water bottle.  The dosing was harder to control but no one in the general population even thinks along those lines, plus the container is sealed so, as long as you don't leave it open or spill any, the odor is more easily controlled.

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Groucho replied on Thu, Nov 8 2012 9:55 AM

I've heard of a chemistry technique where the canniboids are extracted then dissolved in ether. Dip an UNLIT (!!!) cigarette in the ether then remove and let it dry. The cigarette has no marijuana odor and more THC in it than BC Northern Lights.

Obviously this is very dangerous because ether is extraordinarily flammable stuff. For chem majors only!

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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xahrx replied on Thu, Nov 8 2012 12:56 PM

I think they use a similar process to strip and then re infuse THC into government weed given out to the few people who get it.  Supposedy their weed ain't that great, similar effects to marinol.  There's lots of canniboids, it's perfectly possible some are harder to extract than others.  I've always wanted to make an absinthe imitation using weed extract as opposed to wormwood.  I think that would be very nice.

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