Legal and Taxable Marijuana a boon for Black Market Drug Trade in Colorado

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2014

Week in Review

This past Easter we saw a pot celebration in Denver.  Gathering in a central Denver park to smoke marijuana in public.  Even though doing so is still against the law.  Despite Colorado having decriminalized recreational marijuana.  Not exactly the image Colorado may have wanted.  But they may not mind a little pot tourism.  Especially to buy from their licensed pot shops.  Where pot smokers will pay a hefty tax on their legal marijuana purchases.  Eliminating the illegal drug trade.  And burying the treasury in new tax revenue (see Will Home Grown Marijuana Go the Way of Moonshine? by Caitlin Dickson posted 2/1/2014 on The Daily Beast).

I’d been in the Mile High City a total of 20 minutes before my local friend shattered the image I’d built in my head of a post-Jan. 1 Denver. She is a pot smoker. Why was she not one of the thousands of people I’d seen on TV, waiting in lines that poured out the doors of Denver’s retail marijuana shops? If not on New Year’s Day (that’s not really her style), then at least once in the weeks following the stores’ legal opening?

“I just get my weed from my friend Dave,” she said. “Most of my friends do…”

Maintaining a home grow is as expensive, if not more expensive, as setting one up. Dave says his monthly electricity bill jumps to roughly $600 in the summer, when he has to turn up the air conditioning to keep his plants from wilting, on top of the high cost of constantly running one high-voltage light for every six of his 36 plants (12 more than his red card permits). But the money Dave has put into building his basement greenhouse is nothing compared to the green his plants brings in. The 26-year-old—who now runs the grow by himself—says he makes between $40,000 and $60,000 per year selling his weed. It’s more than enough to live on for only about five to 10 hours worth of work per week.

To clarify, Dave’s livelihood is not legal…

Dave’s risk has yielded extremely lucrative rewards, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down, as his clientele of peers would unsurprisingly prefer to pay $20 to $30 for an eighth of an ounce than the $60 to $80 retail stores are charging. In fact, the dispensaries’ high prices (Colorado charges a 10 percent excess tax on all retail marijuana sales, on top of which Denver tacks a special 3.5 percent pot tax in addition to the general city and state retail taxes of 7.5 percent) are enough to motivate any thrifty green thumb try their hand at growing.

So decriminalizing marijuana does not get rid of the drug black market.  In fact, it has made the black market more lucrative.  As taxes raise the price of legally sold pot it makes black market pot much more attractive to recreational users.  In fact, the higher the taxes the better it will be for the black market drug dealers.  Just like cigarette smuggling into cities with high cigarette taxes is a very lucrative black market business.  As high taxes are a black marketeer’s best friend.

So decriminalizing marijuana won’t be everything they thought it would be.  For the higher cost of legal pot may attract another black marketeer.  From south of the border.  Mexico.  So Colorado may get some more tax revenue.  But they’re going to have to spend a lot of it on battling the same things they were battling when marijuana was still illegal.  With one other problem.  A state full of recreational pot smokers smoking a lot of pot.  And these recreational pot smokers will cause a lot of brain damage that will cost Colorado dearly in health care costs in the years to come.

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Marijuana may be Worse than Alcohol

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 15th, 2014

Week in Review

Walter White could cook the best meth on television.  And he could have had the greatest fake drug empire on TV.  But there was always one part of the drug business that continued to be the source of all of his trouble.  Distribution.  As his distributors all tried to kill him.  Krazy-8.  Tuco.  Gus.  Lydia.  He could cook the meth.  But he couldn’t move it.  Which forced him into dealing with these people who eventually wanted to kill him.  And they would have had Walter not killed them first.

Breaking Bad was only a television show.  But it showed a very difficult part of the drug business.  Distribution.  For you can make or grow all the drugs you want but if you can’t distribute them they won’t make you a dime.  Which is why Walter was forced into dealing with these people.  Because it’s not easy moving illegal drugs.  Even on television.

Colorado has decriminalized marijuana.  And they’ve had medical marijuana and medical marijuana pot shops for awhile.  A legal way to distribute marijuana.  Which may have caught the attention of people in the real drug business (see Colorado Pot Shops Raided By The Feds May Be Shut For Good by Matt Ferner posted 4/15/2014 on Huffington Post).

Four Denver-area medical marijuana businesses may be permanently shuttered after federal officials reportedly probing links with Colombian drug cartels raided the shops in November…

State regulators notified the four shops on April 3 that state licenses to operate as medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities would be denied. The state alleged violations of state code that in some cases stretched back to 2012, according to state Marijuana Enforcement Division documents.

“You have operated the licensed premises in a manner that adversely affects the public health or welfare or the safety of the immediate neighborhoods in which your establishments are located,” the state notice of denial reads…

The Department of Justice has released little about the raids, which came less than two months before Colorado’s legal recreational marijuana shops opened. Federal authorities suggested the businesses may not have complied with guidelines outlined in DOJ’s August memo that assented to the new retail marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington state…

The DOJ guidance says federal authorities will continue to prosecute to prevent:

•The distribution of marijuana to minors;

•Revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;

•The diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states…

An unpleasant development for the ‘pot is no worse than alcohol’ crowd.  For pot does come with a little excess baggage.  A legal pot outlet may provide cover for illegal pot sales.  As the Feds’ raid on these Colorado pot shops would suggest.  But there is yet another unpleasant development for the ‘pot is no worse than alcohol’ crowd.  A study that shows pot may be worse than alcohol (see Casual marijuana use changes brain, new report shows by Kay Lazar posted 4/15/2014 on The Boston Globe).

Young adults who occasionally smoked marijuana show abnormalities in two key areas of their brain related to emotion, motivation and decision making, and the degree of changes appear to be directly related to the number of joints smoked per week, according to a new study by Boston researchers.

Other studies have revealed brain changes among heavy marijuana users, but this research is believed to be the first to demonstrate such abnormalities in young, casual pot smokers.

The scientists did not study whether the changes were linked to corresponding declines in brain function, but say the signs suggest young people might be especially vulnerable because their brains are still developing.

“This is when you are making major decisions in your life, when you are choosing a major, starting a career, making long-lasting friendships and relationships,” said lead author Jodi Gilman, a psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School and a brain scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The findings, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, come amid an increased debate about the long-term effects of marijuana, as a growing number of states legalize the drug for medicinal and recreational use.

This is a tough development for Democrats.  Long seen as the cool political party by the young.  Because Democrats are the anti-parents.  When Mom and Dad told their kids to wait until they were in a serious relationship before having sex the Democrats passed out free condoms and provided access to abortion.  And when Mom and Dad told their children to say ‘no’ to drugs like Nancy Reagan the Democrats have been all for relaxing the drug laws.  As the war on drugs was costly and filled our prisons while being ineffective.  So the Democrats have been the party of sex and drugs.  While the Republicans have been the party of their parents.

So of course the young gravitate to the Democrat Party.  As the Democrats support these destructive lifestyles they so enjoy.  But as our kids suffer with STDs, deal with a pregnancy while still high school age and suffer from brain damage from smoking marijuana they may have second thoughts about the cool political party.  For all Mom and Dad wanted was for them to remain healthy and to be successful.  While Democrats appear to facilitate a destructive lifestyle just to win the youth vote.

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Decriminalize Marijuana and the Kids will Smoke more and Eventually Vote Democrat

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 28th, 2013

Week in Review

Teenagers typically vote Democrat.  In part because of the liberal bias in our public schools.  And in our colleges.  As well as in the mainstream media.  In Hollywood.  In television.  And the music industry.  These things do a lot to shape the way our kids think.  But there is another reason why our kids become Democrat voters.  Because it is the left that is handing out free birth control.  While their parents say ‘no’ the left says ‘go ahead.  Have fun.’  And then there is the push by the left to decriminalize marijuana.  Something else these kids’ parents say ‘no’ to.  While the left says ‘go ahead.  Have fun.’  Even if it may be harmful to them.  For what’s a few burnt brain cells in exchange for the youth vote (see Pot’s march toward mainstream by Alicia A. Caldwell And Nancy Benac, The Associated Press, posted 7/27/2013 on The Vancouver Sun)?

It is a moment in the U.S. that is rife with contradictions: People are looking more kindly on marijuana even as science reveals more about the drug’s potential dangers, particularly for young people…

Exploration of the potential medical benefit is limited by high U.S. government hurdles to research. Washington policy-makers seem reluctant to deal with any of it.

So we know it’s bad for the children.  But we really don’t know how bad.  For it is the only medicine (medical marijuana) ever allowed without proving the drug through clinical trials.  To make sure the drug works.  And it doesn’t cause irrevocable harm.  No pharmaceutical is allowed this luxury when bringing a new drug to market.  And we know how dangerous cigarettes and alcohol are.  But not marijuana.  No.  That drug we just accept on faith that it will cure us.  Besides just giving us a great high.

Opponents of pot are particularly worried that legalization will result in increased use by young people.

“There’s no real win on this from a political perspective,” says Sabet. “Do you want to be the president that stops a popular cause, especially a cause that’s popular within your own party? Or do you want to be the president that enables youth drug use that will have ramifications down the road?”

If anyone legalizes it will be the left.  Who are always attacking the right for hating children whenever they say we can’t afford to spend any more money.  But smoking pot harms kids.  And the left is okay with that.

“Having a regulated system is the only way to ensure that we’re not ceding control of this popular substance to the criminal market and to black marketeers,” says Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a trade group for legal pot businesses in the U.S. See Change Research, which analyzes the marijuana business, has estimated the national U.S. market for medical marijuana alone at $1.7 billion for 2011 and has projected it could reach $8.9 billion in five years. Overall, marijuana users spend tens of billions of dollars a year on pot, experts believe…

In Washington state, the Liquor Control Board is drawing up rules covering everything from how plants will be grown to how many stores will be allowed. It expects to issue licences for growers and processors in December, and impose 25 per cent taxes three times over – when pot is grown, processed and sold to consumers…

Marijuana advocates in Washington state…have projected the legal pot market could bring the state a half-billion a year in revenue…

Decriminalizing marijuana will make it easier for kids to smoke it.  Because it’s easier to get things that are only illegal for people under a legal age.  As opposed to being completely illegal.  Kids aren’t legally allowed to smoke cigarettes but they do.  In fact, it is fair to say kids smoke more cigarettes than marijuana.  Because cigarettes aren’t completely illegal.  They’re only illegal for kids.

So cities suffering under the crushing costs of their public sectors are looking at a windfall of tax revenue by decriminalizing marijuana.  And don’t seem to have a problem of people spending more of their money on getting high instead of saving for their retirement.  Paying for their kids’ education.  Or putting food on the table.  It was the same thing when cities scrambled to legalize gambling.  Because they wanted the tax revenue.  Despite people gambling away money that they should have spent on their family.  No doubt these cities would be disappointed if more kids didn’t start smoking marijuana.  So that when they grew into adults they would already have a healthy drug habit the city could tax.  To help pay for the crushing costs of their public sectors.

Of course, the states and cities will never see those rosy projections of tax revenue.  Because when they “impose 25 per cent taxes three times over” they will raise the price of legal marijuana so much that it will benefit, not hurt, the black market for marijuana.  Even if the black market price is below the official taxed price.  Why?  Because people smuggling cigarettes from a low-tax state to a high-tax state don’t do the time drug dealers do when caught.  Encouraging more people to sell a legal substance illegally.  To cheat the state out of that tax revenue.  And pot smokers, especially the kids, will turn to the black market for their pot.  Where it will be even more readily available when the growing, transporting and selling of marijuana is no longer illegal.  Like cigarettes.  Which kids have no problem buying.

California steps back California’s experience with medical marijuana offers a window into pitfalls that can come with wider availability of pot.

Dispensaries for medical marijuana have proliferated in the state, and regulation has been lax, prompting a number of cities in the state to ban dispensaries…

In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

A few weeks later, Los Angeles voters approved a ballot measure that limits the number of pot shops in the city to 135, down from an estimated high of about 1,000. By contrast, whitepages. com lists 112 Starbucks in the city…

In 2010, California voters opted against legalizing marijuana for recreational use, drawing the line at medical use.

But Jeffrey Dunn, a Southern California lawyer who has represented cities in pot cases, says that in reality the state’s dispensaries have been operating so loosely that already “it’s really all-access.”

“What we’ve learned is, it is very difficult if not impossible to regulate these facilities,” he said.

The people may have voted for marijuana in California.  But the people didn’t like living in a Cheech and Chong movie surrounded by stoners.  And seeing a pot shop every time they turned around.  Which is the last thing a parent wants.  To have it so much easier for their kids to smoke pot.  Or eat it.

A Denver-area hospital, for example, saw children getting sick after eating treats and other foods made with marijuana in the two years after a 2009 federal policy change led to a surge in medical marijuana use, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics in May. In the preceding four years, the hospital had no such cases.

The Colorado Education Department reported a sharp rise in drugrelated suspensions and expulsions after medical marijuana took off.

“What we’re doing is not working,” says Dr. Christian Thurstone, a psychiatrist whose Denver youth substance abuse treatment centre has seen referrals for marijuana double since September. In addition, he sees young people becoming increasingly reluctant to be treated, arguing that it can’t be bad for them if it’s legal.

You decriminalize marijuana and, of course, kids will see that as an admission from the state that smoking pot can’t be bad for you.  So more kids use the drug.  Ending up in the hospital.  Getting suspended or expelled from school.  Or in drug rehab for a pot addiction.  But the left is okay with this.  Because, after all, it is the right that hates kids.  Whereas the left is the cool uncle that will let their niece and/or nephew smoke a joint.  Which is why the kids love the left.  They are always helping them do things their parents won’t let them do.

Legalization foes Opponents counter with a 2012 study finding that regular use of marijuana during teen years can lead to a long-term drop in IQ, and another study indicating marijuana use can induce and exacerbate psychotic illness in susceptible people. They question the notion that regulating pot will bring in big money, saying revenue estimates are grossly exaggerated…

They warn that baby boomers who draw on their own innocuous experiences with pot are overlooking the much higher potency of today’s marijuana.

In 2009, concentrations of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, averaged close to 10 per cent in marijuana, compared with about four per cent in the 1980s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

So the left will sacrifice our children for money.  So they can pay for those costly public sectors breaking their budgets.  They won’t take on the public sector unions.  But they will sacrifice our kids.  Because kids don’t pay taxes.  Or vote.  Yet.  But when they do they hope they will remember their cool uncle when in the voting booth.

The baby boomers, who filled the theaters watching Cheech and Chong movies, look back to their days of pot smoking with nostalgia.  Thinking they turned out all right.  And so will the younger generation.  As they anxiously wait for the decriminalization of marijuana so they can buy more.  And smoke more.  Loving the high potency of the new stuff.  Not at all like the stuff they grew up smoking.  Which still fried their brains.  Providing a head start to what dementia will do to them as they reach their golden years.

Kids will on average start smoking at an earlier age.  More of them will smoke because if it’s legal it can’t be bad for you.  And they will be smoking a more potent marijuana than their parents smoked.  Accelerating the damage pot smoking will do to them compared to what it did to their parents.  But the left is okay with that.  Because it is the right that hates the children.  Not the cool uncle.  At least that’s how the youth vote will see it.  Which is all that matters to the left.

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