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Cop Accidentally Reveals the Wisdom of Marijuana Legalization

As the call for legalization continues to reverberate louder than ever before, the hired soldiers in the war on drugs are seeking to defend their livelihood with arguments of unprecedented desperation and incoherence:

Legalization is not the solution, [statewide CAMP Commander Michael] Johnson said, given that most of the pot is being grown illegally on public parkland by foreign citizens who cannot be taxed. [San Francisco Chronicle]

You won't have to tax them because they'll be out of business. No one's going to buy some crappy weed that's grown illegally and destructively in our national forests if there's an alternative. The instant you allow California's legions of skilled and socially conscious marijuana growers to operate in a regulated and legitimate environment, everything ugly and uncontrollable about the state's marijuana industry will change overnight.

Just watch how he proves my point:

"I've been doing this for five years, and there just seems to be more and more of it everywhere," Johnson said. "We don't even bother with medicinal grows. What we're concerned about is the destruction of the habitat."
See how he admits that the "medicinal grows" are not what's causing the problem? That's because they're legal and regulated. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.
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He is one confused puppy

Worried about destruction of habitat, is he? Only one way to fix that, sir. The door is open. Walk on through.
Or if you won't do that, let's hear your best explanation of why it's wise and fair to let killer alcohol users be the lords and masters of cannabis users.

Boy, ain`t he sumptin`

Cops talk about Marijuana being a "gateway" substance. If that is true, then there should be more hard drug users than pot smokers right?. Cops depend on Marijuana Prohibition because of "job" security. That`s all. Can`t see the Forest for the Tree`s can you? Politics is Satan`s game. Beware.

CAMP Campaigns for Deforestation

Keeping marijuana grow operations out of public parklands requires keeping CAMP out of people’s back yards.

Reveals what?

The officer made two separate statements. That is all that happened. He didn't "contradict" himself, he simply made two statements of fact. Now, you, me, the author, and virtually everyone but the cop, understands the inherent conflict between the statements, but that doesn't justify using Faux News-style techniques to make a point. Title it : "Cop reveals his lack of intelligence". Done.

As for the whole "legalize it and tax the hell out of it" you remeber the Dukes of Hazard? the Dukes were Moon-shiners/car enthusiasts. How about NASCAR? Do you know where these ideas came from? That's right! After Prohibition ended, they "taxed the hell out of" alcohol. So much so that people began to make money off of distilling their own liquor, and selling it. Cops caught onto this means of tax-evasion, and started busting them while they were running the unmarked (un-taxed) alcohol via cars. Distillers got tired of their loads being captured, so they started racing and tweaking their cars for maximum performance in hopes of bettering their chances of out-running the police. Thus bloomed auto-racing!

I predict that if when legalized, (and taxed the hell out of) that our forests will become ever more threatened by illegal aliens cutting out swaths to make grow-ops. This is because the tax-induced artificial price will become so conflated that people will differ to more reasonable dealers than the state. If we were to legalize marijuana the REALLY smart way, it would be to use actual cost models to determine what the retail price should be, THEN determine what rate to tax it at. Honestly, I think they (the state and other unrealistic people) envision getting current street price (or more) for weed. If that is the way it happens, the black market will NOT GO AWAY!


Matt_Potter's picture

RE: reveals what?

There is simply no way that anyone will undercut a legally regulated marijuana industry. The prices of marijuana are already artificially inflated. Currently, marijuana is one of the most expensive crops to buy, and there is no reason for that other than people take a lot of risk in handling it under our current system, so they make sure they're compensated.

Under a legal system, ideally, prices will fall enough that even with a fairly steep government tax, the over-all price of weed will still fall and the cartels will pack up and leave the national forests because their shit weed will become obsolete. There are still very successful and talented moonshiners throughout North Carolina, but they are absolutely not killing anyone...

I understand your point about needing a cost model, though. This whole idea of a flat tax of $50/oz that people are floating in Cali is really dumb...

I don't like the $50 an

I don't like the $50 an ounce tax idea much either, but it's really not that high of a tax if you think about it. It works out to less than $1.77 a gram, and unless I misunderstand the proposed law it doesn't kick in unless the feds legalize production.

With legal production like you said prices will fall. I bet after a few years competition will make the industry highly efficient and it won't cost but a few bucks a pound to produce basic outdoor grown pot, and it shouldn't cost hundreds of dollars a pound to produce even the highest quality pot. There will be far fewer middlemen. Most pot will probably be mass produced on large corporate farms. Profit margins will be much lower, but the industry will still be profitable because we'll have fewer producers dealing in huge quantities making their money from high volume sales. The government won't be pulling up millions of plants and seizing tons and tons of finished product. There will be no risk of prison, no smuggling costs, no paying drug mules a few grand to haul a couple of hundred pounds of weed. Wholesale prices will end up being a fraction of current wholesale prices and if we don't go too crazy with the taxes we won't have much of a black market.

We will probably have both sales taxes and excises when pot is legal, like we have with tobacco and alcohol. Excises are usually a flat tax on a given amount of product as opposed to a percentage of the price like normal sales taxes. The $50 an ounce tax is an excise type tax. We'll probably see those from the feds and the states when we have true legalization. I would think the best way for them to do it would be to tax it based on potency. They could do something like tax weed that is under 10% THC at $1 a gram, $2 a gram for 10% to 14% THC, $3 for 15% to 20%, and $4 for weed over 20% THC.

Despite what you heear in the media from government sources, and from medical marijuan providers, most indoor grown pot seized today is actually only in the 10% to 15% range. There really isn't that much out there that is 20% or higher. We hear a lot of hype today from the government and from people bragging about their pot that just isn't supported by the data and isn't true. Pricey pot is not as potent on average as people think it is, and most people smoke the cheaper stuff anyway because most people aren't made of money. People smoking your standard brickweed type stuff are usaully smoking stuff that is well under 10%.

In a legal environment where producers will have access to sophisticated testing equipment they're going to be able to tweak their systems and their strains such that those growing it in more controlled environments aren't going to have much of a problem producing 20% or better pot. It shouldn't cost more to do that than to produce 12% pot in the same type of environment, like a greenhouse.

The general public is afraid of super strong pot. There will be a push to limit the amount of THC in legal pot. If they limit it too much there will be a black market for stronger pot. As an alternative to limits that are going to cause a thriving black market, we could offer some sliding scale tax system that taxes stronger pot at a higher rate. This would also keep the dirt cheap weaker pot from being taxed so high no one wants to buy it.

Mexican costs like $20 a quarter where I live, less if you buy halves or ounces. A $50 an ounce tax would amount to a $12.50 a quarter tax, so with sales taxes and federal excises there won't be much room for profits even if the wholesale price does drop through the floor. It just doesn't make good sense to tax this lower grade cheap product at the same rate as pot that is two or three or more times as potent. We're going to need to tax it at different rates depending on potency.

If it were up to me we'd start out with standard sales taxes. We'd let pot get really cheap for a while and then start slowly adding in excises as increased industry efficiency and competition drives prices lower. That way we kill the black market and get people used to going to the pot shops.

Mexican pot dominates the market in my area because people around here don't have much money and Mexican is so cheap. If we started with a $50 an ounce tax across the board in my area plus sales taxes, the Mexican would still be able to sell plenty of their cheapo pot. If you know the right people you can get it for $50 or $60 an ounce, although most people don't buy ounces and won't necessarily always get great deals even on Mexican. Most around here won't pay $100 or more for a quarter of fancy indoor grown pot and $20 quarters of Mexican would be tempting to them if the stuff at the pot shop costs twice as much and isn't much better. A $50 an ounce tax would be nothing for people used to buying high dollar weed, especially since the price would drop pretty quickly if it was legal, but it would be a huge tax for people who buy the dirt cheap stuff. We need taxes tied to potency and we need to start slow and give time for prices to drop before we start raising taxes so we don't drive people to black market sources.

GREAT post..........OZ Very

GREAT post..........OZ

Very true and well put.
IMO.....there's no doubt that marijuana should be legal in the US by now, since having gone so mainstream 40 years ago.
There's no doubt that there are many, many indoor and outdoor grow ops throughout the US.......MOST of which are small, personal use gardens. Many others are major operations and over the years a lot of scientific advancements have occured with genetics, etc. to produce a wide range of marijuana strains, potency levels and types of highs associated with the plant (sativa or indica).
Anyway....there IS aw way for the govt. to legalize it, tax it and distribute it but ya know the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries sure don't want the competition. Many others don't either. But, it makes sense to legalize it now at the Federal level and allow the states to decide the details. OMO.....the BEST weed in the WORLD should not cost more than say.........$200 / ounce and this should be the case LEGAL and AFTER ALL taxes/fees, etc. were imposed by all the govt.agencies and everyone involved.
Also.....fields of HEMP should be far more common across the Plains. The big, ugly windmill farms are sick and zap what little scenic beauty many places might have.

Bootlegging was going on

Bootlegging was going on during Prohibition and most of it stopped after Prohibition. The bootlegging that went on after Prohibition had little to do with taxes. It went on because prohibition didn’t really end when Prohibition ended. There were many states that remained completely dry long after Prohibition, especially Southern Bible Belt states. Mississippi was completely dry until 1966, and many Southern states still actually have dry counties. Most of the counties in my state are dry and we do still have some moonshiners and bootleggers in areas that are really far from wet counties where people can buy alcohol.

Most all alcohol goes through legal channels though. Most of our bootlegging today actually involves alcohol bought legally in wet counties. There is not a huge market for moonshine and there is really no market for homebrew or homemade wine. People want store bought product because it is safer and it usually tastes better.

Look at the medical marijuana dispensaries in California. These places do gangbusters business selling very expensive pot to people who could legally grow their own. People like these shops just like they like the coffeeshops in the Netherlands. It's great to be able to go into a nice clean shop and choose from a wide variety of quality product. It's expensive, but high quality. It doesn't take much of it to do the trick, so a little goes a long way for most people.

If it was legal and we had "pot stores" kind of like liquor stores, people will want to shop in these places. They'll like the variety. They'll like being able to select product at different price points. There will probably be a requirement that the general range of potency is on the packaging, so people will know what they are getting. Production will be regulated so people will have some assurance that they aren't smoking something that is laced or has been produced in some unsafe fashion.

Law enforcement do find all sorts of unsafe chemicals at these Mexican grow sites they find in the woods. These people are often unscrupulous and wouldn't have any problem using some toxic chemical right before harvest to combat mold or pests. People aren't going to have to worry about that at licensed pot shops. They won't have to deal with criminals or buy product that comes from some seriously bad people up the line.

Pot is still pretty cheap if you look at the per use cost, even the expensive stuff because it usually doesn't take much of that to reach the desired result. It's definitely cheaper than beer in my area at least. Wholesale before taxes prices will drop through the floor if when we actually legalize production and sales. It really shouldn't cost more than a few bucks a pound to mass produce outdoor grown pot that is way better crappy Mexican brickweed. Indoor grown premium pot will be grown in row after row of greenhouses spanning several acres like you might see with hothouse tomato growing operations. They'll only need a little supplemental lighting when days are short to prevent premature flowering. High grade pot will be much cheaper too.

There is going to be an awful lot of room for high taxes before pot costs what it costs today. If we can keep prices down below what they are today, we aren't going to have much a black market. I don't think we'd have much of a black market if prices are about what they are today. People are going to want to buy from the shops. Black market pot would have to be a lot cheaper than legal pot for there to be much of a market for it. People are going to find products they like at the shops, favorite brands. Producers will make products with broad appeal that are distinguishable from other products, and people aren't going to want some crap Mexicans grow in the woods. We really shouldn’t have that much more of a problem with black market pot than we have with black market alcohol, and we really don't have much of a problem with black market alcohol today.

You're an idiot for using a

You're an idiot for using a tv-show for a reference to legalization of drugs. That's like me saying I'm never going to NYC because all it is is hookers and drug dealers getting killed, I saw it on NYPD Blue!. As for the moonshine runners. This was in a time when law enforcement wasn't as quick and adaptable as it is today. We live in a police state and most people recognize the power and quick hand of law enforcement. Theirs tons of people out there now with tuned up cars, that could more than likely outrun a single cop car. Why don't drug dealers use them now? Because, cops have so many tactics and radio communication to apprehend people much quicker now. Even if legalization fueled some renegade green runners. I think the money put towards that would be a hell of alot less than the reagan 'war on drugs' has been having money pumped into it the last 25 years.

More greenwashing from corporate polluters and the so -called

police who take their bribes! End prohibition and return the peoples jobs!


Your former comments on predictions for the future are off the wall. The reason for the high prices and bad stuff is a direct result of prohibition. Once marijuana is legalized prices will go down. All black markets result in price increase and that is not a prediction, it is based on history. Legalize drugs and let the police go back to real police work, like all those rape and murder cases that sit, settling in the dust while our tax dollars pay for overgrown children to dress up as Darth Vadar and break into homes of people who most of the time are not bothering anyone. If you don't get it by now that the US Drug war is a pathetic failure then you have been sleeping. Wake up and legalize. "It is going to happen." My "prediction" is based on models like Canada and Amsterdam, where at least decriminalization is working just fine.

I'm not interested in paying the same price for legal weed ...

that I'm paying now for 'criminal' weed. But a $50 an ounce tax sounds ok to me, at least for starters, at long as people are allowed to grow their own. It should also be legal to give it away in small quantity. If cannabis proves its worth after legalization, as I expect it will, people can insist the tax be lowered later.
Ideally the tax should be related to potency, but maybe there is an advantage in a referendum of having a simply stated flat tax.

Need more proof of "Mexican Drug Cartels" in California

ANONYMOUS WRITES: "Law enforcement do find all sorts of unsafe chemicals at these Mexican grow sites they find in the woods. These people are often unscrupulous and wouldn't have any problem using some toxic chemical right before harvest to combat mold or pests."

BECKY: Does anyone else question the claim that there are lots of "Mexican Drug Cartels" operating in our national forests and parklands? It seems the DEA makes that claim in every case whether they arrest someone or not (usually NOT). Recently the Drug Czar said in Fresno that 82 Mexican nationals had been arrested and that they were linked with "Mexican Drug Cartels." However, no names were given. No charges given. And no details of the connection to the Cartels given. Are we supposed to just believe them?

The same article claimed that they had seized "1 billion dollars" worth of pot. Is THAT believable? Isn't this just law enforcement piggy-backing on anti-immigrant , anti-Mexican bias, and scare stories of horrific violence in Mexico? The last thing the DEA wants to admit is that most grows are tiny, little gardens which cause no environmental damage whatsoever.

LOL I agree with the

LOL I agree with the previous comment. If weed were legalized, what would stop people from growing in their backyards? Who would bother to even leave their house to find weed if they could grow it themselves? I suspect that a good many potheads would suddenly find the urge to start growing and being more "productive" in society. I guess the only downfall of legalization is that the cops will be out of jobs. Oh wait, there's still that nasty problem of meth, herion, and cocaine, which are all increasing in popularity, despite what the government says. They have no way of polling people to find out the % of people that use, they can only go on arrest records. If they spend more time catching people for marijuana related crimes, do you thing that frees up more or less people to arrest other drug offenders? Herion, meth, and cocaine making a strong comeback. I think this is a direct effect of the drug war propaganda. More and more people blow of the warnings about hard drugs because they've used soft drugs like marijuana with no ill effects. That is the real gateway; the lies told to children and adolescents. "If they lied to me about pot being bad, maybe they lied about cocaine too." I never wanted to try hard drugs after using marijuana. But I did want to try them after seeing my friends use them. If I had any reason to believe the warnings, maybe I wouldn't have even tried them. But alas, they lied to me about weed, so they're probably lying about everything else. And yeah, I guess alcohol has never caused someone to call up a coke dealer in the middle of the night looking for a bag, I know weed has (sarcasm).

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