Cost/Benefit Analysis


Recent Gallup polls indicate that 51% of republican lawmakers favor legalization of marijuana.

I’ve often wondered how accurate such polls are; I see no reason to believe that lawmakers answer them, and don’t just hand them off to an aide. Presumably, the aides hate them with the suppressed rage of a minion, and fill the polls out with the most surrealist answers they can think of. But we see over and over in human affairs that, once the mental inertia of a belief system begins to shift and people are willing to say they don’t agree, it falls apart fairly rapidly.

The change in approval rate, there, looks a lot like that for gay marriage, and – for all that there are annoying and regressive hold-outs – that flipped surprisingly quickly.

It seems to me like marijuana legalization is going to happen, and happen fairly hard except for in North Carolina, or Oklahoma (where it grows wild and my friends who live in Stillwater have to annually go around their yard with RoundUp and kill it) – the War On Drugs is switching to the War On Immigrants, and has exhausted its political usefulness.

Step over here behind the curtain and let me tell you what’s really going on. The lawmakers have realized that there is a gap that needs exploiting: that’s the gap between the effective price of marijuana (practically free) and the highly-inflated price that results from the War On Drugs.

I think we’re about to see a land-rush on the political side for the fat marijuana tax revenues, as taxation eats the gap between what ought to be more or less free, and what the risk of prison-time has artificially re-priced.

Forbes (behind an ad-blocker wall, so they get no link)

Back in 1999 I grew a couple of large marijuana plants in the bathroom of my house in Maryland – mostly because I loved the smell. I’m unfortunate: it doesn’t do much for me except make me feel a bit stupid and sleepy and I usually just head for the couch and end my day immediately. But, during the course of that experience, I discovered that a) anyone can grow marijuana easily b) it takes nearly no effort or skill to prepare c) it ought to cost about $1/lb. Not $250/oz. That’s the gap I’m referring to.

By the way, remember what I said about Oklahoma? On the Forbes map, the states I projected would be the hold-outs are the ones where it’s currently most expensive thanks to the downside risk of prison time. Consider the downside risk as a form of market manipulation, and you now understand the economics of smuggling 101.

States like Colorado and Oregon, where it is legal, have been effectively undercutting the other states, which is interfering with their revenue models – state governments use the War On Drugs to transfer money from the private sector into the enforcement apparatus, and also use the War On Drugs to justify asset seizure – partial legalization is messing with that. It’s having the same effect that legalized gambling in Nevada did: all the politicians watch that tax revenue fly by and they drool enviously.

This is big business. Excise taxes on Alcohol raised $9.6 billion last year. Tobacco, in spite of reductions in its use, raised $14.5 billion. Why? What? Sure: “let’s screw the smokers!” sin taxes have been used as a regulatory mechanism for decades.

By now I’m sure you see what I’m saying is coming down the train tracks at you: legalized marijuana with regulation and tax-farming. Those 51% of republicans? They’re going to forget their hatred of new taxes for as long as it takes to artificially prop up the cost of marijuana by filling the gap between $300/oz and $1/oz with taxes. Besides, it’ll be for the troops. Federal excise taxes, going back to Hamilton’s taxes on whiskey (that triggered The Whiskey Rebellion) have always been one of the federal government’s favorite ways of claiming wars will be “self funding.” Like every federal excise tax, ever, it will fall disproportionately on the poor.

[wikipedia]

A rich person will have no problem going to Whole Foods and buying an ounce of organically-grown Jamaican Blue Mountain Fair Trade Blue Breeze (“Hand picked by teenaged virgins!”) for $299/oz. But, the wage-slave who wants to chill with a couple of bong hits of home-grown? No, we can’t have that.

Predictions:

  1. Within the next decade weed will be legal more or less everywhere in the US except Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and North Dakota.
  2. The price/oz will continue to remain near its current artificially-inflated level.
  3. A market for specialty weed (organic, hand-rubbed, etc) will arise; we will have marketing dollars pushing high-end luxury marijuana in order to justify maintaining price pressure on the ordinary stuff.
  4. States will require that marijuana be sold, like alcohol, with a tax stamp. That way, the states and the federal government get to monetize the hell out of the gold rush that’s about to peak (and will peak in the next decade). It will be a crime to sell marijuana that does not have a tax stamp. This is straight out of Alexander Hamilton’s play-book during the Whiskey Rebellion: it will make it expensive to be a small-time grower, which will tend to put the profits in the hands of larger businesses that the government can exert better control over.

It’s easy to make those predictions, because the wheels are already turning:

California’s legal marijuana marketplace is coming with a kaleidoscope of new taxes and fees that could influence where it is grown, how pot cookies and other munchies are produced and the price tag on just about everything.

Be ready for sticker shock.

On a retail level, it costs about $35 to buy a small bag of good quality medical marijuana in Los Angeles, enough to roll five or six joints.

But in 2018, when recreational sales take hold and additional taxes kick in, the cost of that same purchase in the new market is expected to increase at the retail counter to $50 or $60.

At the high end, that’s about a 70% jump. [LA Times]

Here’s another data-point: big money is moving into the legal weed industry. To the point where old school illicit growers are concerned that they may be driven out of business. And the profits are attractive to Wall St. and other regulated industries. [bloomberg]

Alcohol giant Constellation Brands Inc. is making a foray into marijuana, a precedent-setting move for an industry that has mostly stayed on the sidelines during the cannabis boom.

Constellation will pay about $245 million Canadian ($191 million) for a 9.9 percent stake in Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian seller of medicinal-marijuana products. The deal kicked off the biggest rally in nearly a year for Canopy, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker WEED.

The legalization of marijuana in Canada and a growing number of U.S. states is opening up a huge potential market – just as demand for alcohol is slowing. Still, pot remains prohibited at the U.S. federal level, meaning American companies have to tread carefully.

Constellation, based in Victor, New York, said it has no plans to sell cannabis in the U.S. or other markets until it’s legal “at all government levels.” For now, it’s more a matter of identifying markets with growth potential, said Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands, whose company sells Corona beer, Svedka vodka and other brands.

In other words, Constellation is willing to bet $191 million that I’m right. And you know they’ve got lobbyists. When you’ve got publicly traded companies with lobbyists behind a market, it’s going to pop.

Here’s something that would really generate revenues:

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I probably don’t need a disclaimer here, but: I think marijuana should be completely un-regulated. But that might hurt alcohol and tobacco tax revenue-farming. As I have mentioned before [stderr] none of this is about public health; it’s just a way of extracting wealth from the public and putting it in the hands of those who control society.

(I got these numbers from CDC’s report on 2015 deaths, 2016 deaths for opioids will be higher)

Look at where marijuana is on that chart! For that matter, look at what a crisis opiates are!

Comments

  1. felicis says

    I can make up to 100 gallons of fermented beverages per year (200 gallons per household), or more, assuming no-one bothers to check how much I made.

    In Oregon, I can grow up to 4 plants (though, like you, it doesn’t really do much for me). I’m not sure how that compares to 100 gallons of beer (as both are far more than I will every use on an annual basis), but there are no taxes on either activity.

    I do not agree that either should be completely unregulated – I have no problem with the state regulating (and taxing) the buying and selling of pretty much anything, so long as there is an exception for producing for personal use. If you want to grow your own opium poppies and peyote, so long as you aren’t selling it, I am pretty OK with that.

    When the product requires complex chemical transformation (distilling and up), which done improperly can make the final product poisonous, then I think there is a state interest in regulating such a home operation (so, no, I don’t agree that you should be able to cook your own meth, nor distill your own moonshine) – however, I do think that recreational use of those should also be legal.

    I do believe that, with legalization, the price will continue to drop. Demand isn’t that high, and there is a lot of competition that comes with legalization. I doubt it will drop down to production cost though – like alcohol, there is profit to be made, and business will strike an agreement with government that allows the total cost to the user to be low enough to maximize profits while still allowing the state some revenue. And we’ll see that happen pretty quickly after it is legalized at the federal level.

  2. says

    felicis@#1:
    I do not agree that either should be completely unregulated – I have no problem with the state regulating (and taxing) the buying and selling of pretty much anything, so long as there is an exception for producing for personal use.

    I agree.

    I do believe that, with legalization, the price will continue to drop.

    It’ll drop some but I doubt it’ll go much below where it is already regulated but legal. We’ll see.

    The whole situation reminds me of the (brief) time in the early 80s when CDs were first coming out. And everyone was saying, “they are so much cheaper to make than records! and they hold more! the price of music is going to crater!” Hahahaha. Instead the record labels experienced a brief surge of profit-taking that triggered the free digital music backlash.

    Meth, MDMA, LSD, Fentanyl – the more complex syntheses can produce nasty byproducts, and if they’re going to be sold, I do think perhaps there should be some regulation. I am giggling at the idea of getting my “meth cooker license” and taking the proficiency exam would be interesting (that kind of stuff is way outside of my technical reach) There are safe forms of psychoactives (starting with caffeine and ending with MAOIs) produced in industrial quantities. With stuff like caffeine, where a minor dose-shift can be lethal, I think regulation and certification makes sense. I also think regulating distilleries make sense because – unless you’re a southern politician – nobody wants dangerous industrial processes being done in populated areas.

  3. Siobhan says

    I’m unfortunate: it doesn’t do much for me except make me feel a bit stupid and sleepy and I usually just head for the couch and end my day immediately.

    Well when you have disordered sleep because of anxiety, that’s a feature and not a bug.

    If the legalization of homosexuality taught me anything it’s that we won’t see any amnesty or apology for weed convictions until 2117.

  4. says

    Shiv@#3:
    If the legalization of homosexuality taught me anything it’s that we won’t see any amnesty or apology for weed convictions until 2117.

    We will never see that. Then they’d get to vote and that’d be bad. Or something.

    Agreed about the anxiety. I’m very fortunate there, too – a glass of red wine and some music correct my most severe anxiety attacks, so far.

  5. says

    I am also in the home grown free, but regulated and taxed if sold camp.
    Regulation allows people who do not want to grow there own to consume a safe product, not one cut or otherwise spoiled.

    Weed can be grown like wheat. It will not be the high end weed carefully grown under optimal lighting and with perfect chemical balance, but it will still be weed*. A kilogram flour costs me (at its cheapest) 0.32 €. Lets that be 1€ for a kilogram of weed product. Even a 5000% tax would still mean a kilo price of only 50 €, compared to a kilo price of around 10.000 € of medium weed here in Germany.

    When fully legalize weed (on an international level to be fair) hits the market, prices can drop very deep.

    *The biggest problem is keeping male weed plants away from your weed field, which will be very hard to impossible. And inseminated female plants do not produce much THC. So some after processing could be needed to concentrate the THC in form of oil. The rest of the weed plant can be used too on the other hand, which should help with the price. Hemp is on a level with cotton in its usefulness, which much less resources needed to grow.

  6. jazzlet says

    Two tokes and I’m falling asleep, not just sleepy, I would find that useful in helping to regulate my very erratic sleeping patterns to a rather more normal pattern. However here in the UK I think it will take a while longer than in the USA despite the consistent advice of the experts various Governments have employed.

  7. felicis says

    @Turi1337 #5:

    The difference between wheat and flour is that one gets you high.

    Regardless of taxation, the businesses involved in production and distribution will ensure their prices are reasonably high. Rather than comparing to flour, compare it to alcohol – I could produce my own beer of reasonable quality with little effort and at a cost of of about $1 per pint (if I make cider it’s even cheaper since I have an apple tree, but I would need to rent the press…) Yet the price in the market is more like $3-5 per pint or more…

  8. says

    felicis@#7:
    I could produce my own beer of reasonable quality with little effort and at a cost of of about $1 per pint

    At a certain point cost/benefit for effort comes into play. Having made a batch of root beer with too much sugar in it, I can state confidently that mis-brewed carbonated drinks can be dangerous. It’s not just effort and cost, it’s space, gear, knowledge and procedures. Having spent my share of time disinfecting bottles and smelling boiling wort, I’m happy to let someone else do that, even at $3/pint.

    All this stuff has cost/benefit to take into account. I know of a guy who was raising his own P. Cubensis and wound up infecting his kitchen and himself with pseudomonas. Oops.

    The gap between the basic cost of production and the fully produced good is a fraught discussion – basically, it’s the focus of most defenses and attacks on Marxian economics, because it means developing a theory of the value of labor. I know I don’t want to go there – but I think that the prices of alcohol and weed are held artificially high and it has the result of making the profit margins huge. I expect legislators will find it irresistable to reach in and milk that cow.

  9. kestrel says

    Turri1337 @#5 brings up hemp. That’s one reason I wish the USA would get over Reefer Madness: I would love to be able to grow hemp on my farm. It is one of the few crops that might actually grow here… mostly what I have now is weeds and sticks. It’s also a very useful crop, as one can grow strains for fiber, or strains for oil, or strains for feed.

    The Partner thinks that one of the reasons the Powers That Be don’t want to legalize marijuana is because it would allow regular folks being able to do something like grow hemp and make a profit, and would also stop them being able to lock up so many people and take away their stuff. Jails are big business, and as we found out from an embarrassing statement by a guy who locks people up, it’s far more convenient to lock up someone who is a non-violent offender, such as someone who smokes pot and therefore makes a better slave. Those violent offenders are more dangerous, and you can’t just make them change the oil on your car for fear of being smacked over the head with a wrench.

    If the ridiculous laws we currently have were based on public safety, there would be laws forbidding people to drink anti-freeze. But there aren’t. So I’ll agree: as people get a clue and see how much freaking money they can make, there will be moves towards legalization. FINALLY.

  10. says

    I wasn’t kidding about the “Tax Golf” bit, btw.
    I owe you all a posting about how golf courses have managed to avoid paying real estate tax on the changing value of their property. Surprise! It’s oligarchy! So you have things like a giant golf course in the middle of LA, on land worth hundreds of millions of dollars, paying the same real estate taxes they paid in 1920. It’s another one of those postings I’m going to have to hose myself down while I write, so I don’t melt anything.

  11. felicis says

    Well yes – there is a reason my wife and I no longer brew – we live in Portland where excellent beer, cider, wine and distilled beverages are easy to find, and while more expensive than what we could produce ourselves, also of higher quality than what we could produce ourselves (generally). It also helps that we are not huge consumers of the product, so we can buy small amounts of high quality and enjoy it on our terms.

    While it is fun to produce your own things – I never thought of my hobby as a replacement for the grocery store. We have chickens too – and they produce more than enough eggs for us and we even have excess to share with out neighbors. About half the price of store-bought eggs, all things considered – but there is an inconvenience, and if we did not own our own place, we could probably not keep chickens (or bees) at all.

    I was not even thinking of the value of labor being added to the good – but you make an excellent point that there is more to the discussion than just the raw ingredient cost – and while there is taxation and profit, there are also storage and shipping and markup costs in addition to labor costs at every step from planting through harvesting, distributing, and selling. If a large chunk of that money is just profit, we may yet see prices drop to the limit that people are willing to accept (on top of taxation). Not so low as dollars a kilo, but probably significantly lower than hundreds of dollars per ounce.

    As I asserted earlier – I expect industry and government will come to an understanding that prevents small farmers from getting into the game except by selling to distributors at their prices – in the end we get cheaper, and lower quality, weed for everyone not interested in growing their own (the coors of weed, if you will). I would not be surprised at a price about 5-10 times that of tobacco – pre-rolled joints for $30 a pack of 20, maybe? Then money goes into advertising and brand identification.

  12. says

    Well then, what taxes do you support?

    Personally I’m in favor of excise taxes. Thanks to excise tax tobacco is now so expensive that my uncle who’s been smoking for decades finally decided to reduce his tobacco use (he didn’t quit, but even a reduction of cigarettes smoked is an improvement). The fact that tobacco is now very expensive here really motivates people to quit smoking, money is a lot better motivation than being reminded of the risk of lung cancer.

    I’m fine with taxes being used to reduce consumption of harmful stuff. By the way, I’d also like to tax bottled water, plastic shopping bags, PVC and other unnecessary yet harmful stuff.

    Of course excise tax on tobacco, alcohol and marihuana wouldn’t be paid predominantly by millionaires — there’s a limit of how much alcohol a single rich guy can consume. But the tax is still paid by people who can afford it. Unlike food, which is essential for survival, recreational drugs are “luxury goods” in the sense that a poor person can survive without buying them. Therefore taxing marihuana is better than taxing food or medicine.

    As for the wealthy, progressive income tax, progressive property tax, capital gains tax and the like can be used to address specifically the rich guys. And these taxes are not mutually exclusive with excise tax. It’s perfectly OK if not every single tax target the rich.

    Of course in USA tax revenue is used for bad stuff like financing wars. But how you spend tax revenue is a separate issue. Tax revenue can also be used for good things like healthcare and education.

    I’m also fine with states regulating industries. If the state didn’t regulate food and medicine production and sale, my risk of dying from accidental poisoning would increase. By the way, in Latvia people have actually died as a result of drinking homemade and illegally sold alcohol. Quality control is a nice thing to have.

  13. says

    Ice Swimmer@#13:
    As far as I know, distilling alcohol is a fire hazard

    It’s more of an “explosion followed by fire” hazard. There’s an ethanol plant in Clearfield that makes ethanol from corn for fuel, and if that place goes up it’ll level half the town. Hot alcohol + oxygen + spark = drama

  14. consciousness razor says

    Marcus:

    But, during the course of that experience, I discovered that a) anyone can grow marijuana easily b) it takes nearly no effort or skill to prepare c) it ought to cost about $1/lb. Not $250/oz. That’s the gap I’m referring to.

    More than that, I would think. I guess you might get the cost down to $5/lb or so, assuming you’re getting several pounds. (At some point, it would be too much for personal use over a year). You have to factor in potting soil, fertilizer, water, lighting equipment and electricity if it’s inside, and assorted gardening implements that you may not already have. You also need to buy seeds, at least for the first generation. I bet it does scale up nicely for a large farm, but it’s not so efficient when you’re talking about a handful of plants at a time.

    Ieva Skrebele:

    Unlike food, which is essential for survival, recreational drugs are “luxury goods” in the sense that a poor person can survive without buying them. Therefore taxing marihuana is better than taxing food or medicine.

    But weed does have well-known medicinal properties, thus it isn’t merely recreational, so your conclusion does not follow. (Plus, you can put it in your food, but never mind that.)

    Also, poor people shouldn’t be deprived of recreation, which they may be able to afford if the price isn’t made artificially high by proposals like yours. Whether they’re poor or not, people need to do more than just survive. Besides, I could survive without buying practically everything inside of a grocery store (or any other store you could name), yet those things aren’t in any sense luxuries. They’re not, at least not until rich/middle-class assholes get together to decide on the precise way in which “their” society should take another giant dump on poor people just because they can. So… to put it more nicely, your concept of “luxury goods” looks like it needs a whole lot of adjustment.

  15. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#12:
    Well then, what taxes do you support?

    I’d need to do a whole series of postings to answer that topic. Basically, I believe that the right way to handle taxation would entail reconstructing civilization. That’s another way of saying “it’s unlikely to happen.”

    The fact that tobacco is now very expensive here really motivates people to quit smoking, money is a lot better motivation than being reminded of the risk of lung cancer.

    Since it’s a massive public health problem and helps drive medical costs up for everyone, I would say we ought to ban it outright. Or, (alternative) require that the tobacco companies return to early strains of the plant from before when they bred/engineered it to produce massively more nicotene. While governments continue to allow the sale of tobacco, and nicotene patches, they choose to ignore that the substance has been designed to be more addictive. Imagine the shitfits if some pharma company produced an opioid that was designed to be 100x more addictive than heroin!

    There is a cost-of-public-health question. Tobacco is causing wildly disproportionate costs (so is Diabetes, which is another issue that’s related. The government complains about diabetes being expensive but food companies continue to jam huge amounts of high fructose corn syrup and salt into everything)

    If we are going to regulate substance abuse for public health outcomes, sugar, salt, tobacco, saturated fats – then come all the drugs.

    I’m also fine with states regulating industries.

    Me too. I just wish they wouldn’t be so transparent about only regulating where it’s convenient to their corporate masters.

  16. says

    consciousness razor@#15:
    Also, poor people shouldn’t be deprived of recreation, which they may be able to afford if the price isn’t made artificially high by proposals like yours.

    Ah, now, there’s another thing.
    Marijuana is as if nature designed a perfect drug to keep the proletarians happy, relaxed, and it doesn’t have as dramatic a health cost as tobacco or alcohol. If there is a better drug for pacifying the masses, I can’t think what it is. As long as the masses aren’t high while they are servicing their corporate masters, I’d expect there to be free weed tranquilizer dispensers for all. It makes no sense that they’re restricting the stuff instead of promoting it.

    “Sit down and have a couple of bong hits of Big Brother Black, and watch this week’s episode of Trumps Versus Kardashians! And have a McTranquilizer flurry and some McNuggets to go with it – you don’t have to be up to go to work until 5am tomorrow, so live it up! Big Brother is your dealer.”

  17. consciousness razor says

    If there is a better drug for pacifying the masses, I can’t think what it is.

    Well, maybe there’s no better option, but I wouldn’t say it’s made me any more satisfied about anybody stamping their boot on my face. Sleepy and/or euphoric, less inhibited, perhaps more reflective or less desensitized, certainly distracted at times…. But not pacified, if that’s about conforming or acquiescing or something along those lines. Big Brother would presumably want to look for a better form of mind-control. I guess something more like GLeeMONEX from Brain Candy, except for the comas since people need to remain productive.

  18. says

    consciousness razor @#15

    My attitude towards medicine is that it should be completely state funded. I suppose that means free weed for anybody who gets a doctor’s prescription saying that they really need it.

    Our definitions of “poverty” are extremely different. My mother lived in poverty when I was little. My mum couldn’t afford to pay rent and she lived illegally in a place she didn’t own. On multiple occasions she found herself sitting barricaded behind closed doors while police officers attempted to force her to leave the apartment where she had no right to live. She also had no money for firewood, so occasionally temperature inside her home fell below freezing. And of course she was often hungry. Needless to say that her priorities were shelter, food and firewood. She wasn’t thinking about entertainment at the time.

    What you call poverty I would call acceptable living conditions. I suppose that would be called “cultural differences” between us. In the culture where I grew up a poor person who claims that they need shelter and food gets sympathy and other people try to help this person. A poor person who claimed that they need alcohol, weed and movie tickets would get nothing but contempt and nobody would believe that this person really is poor.

    Of course some people who live in poverty are so desperate and unhappy that they will spend what little money they have on alcohol rather than on food. But I don’t think that society should encourage alcohol (or weed) addictions among the poor. Getting drunk only worsens the problem and hinders the possibility of improving your living conditions.

    poor people shouldn’t be deprived of recreation

    Yeah, sure. I’m not saying that people should be intentionally deprived of anything. But recreation is not a priority. Priority is ensuing that the poor person does not freeze to death and does not die of starvation. Only when these more important problems are solved, it makes sense to start thinking about recreation.

    Marcus @#16

    Since it’s a massive public health problem and helps drive medical costs up for everyone, I would say we ought to ban it outright.

    I believe that humans should have a right to do things which harm themselves. I would be willing to ban smoking in public places to reduce the negative effects of passive smoking. I wouldn’t be willing to completely ban smoking.

    In countries where patients pay for their own healthcare medical costs aren’t other people’s problem. In countries where state pays for healthcare it seems reasonable to tax tobacco.

    food companies continue to jam huge amounts of high fructose corn syrup and salt into everything

    Food companies are only offering for sale what people like to buy. Whenever some food company attempts to make their stuff healthier, sales decrease. It’s people themselves who choose to eat unhealthy junk food.

  19. says

    @felicis
    I too produce my own alcohol, cider in fact, and comparing the price of a liter after removing all taxes, i do not get a cheaper product at home. This is true for German beer and Apfelwein* (only if you need to buy your raw products of course). Synergy is a powerful thing, which made the industrial revolution such a success.
    Flour and Weed are not the same thing, that’s true. Hemp is easier to grow for example. It needs neither pesticides nor insecticides. And as i mentioned, there will be necessary post harvest refinement steps. But that is also true for sugar, and that i can get for 0.16 €** the Kg.
    Its taxes that make drug related products expensive, and actually, i am fine with that. While flat taxes hit low incomes always harder than high incomes, legalizing weed even with very high taxes will make it a lot cheaper than on the black market, making it more affordable for all. In a perfect world of course there would only be a small tax on weed, resulting in enough money to cover the price of regulation.

    *Our version of Cider, very delicious.
    **I am not saying that you can produce the equivalent to a Kg of weed for 16 cents, just that there is lots of industrial farming that already produces complicated products for very low prices. (With a good helping of exploitation)

  20. jazzlet says

    consciousness razor
    What medicinal properties are you thinking of? Because all of the well run studies that I have come across have shown little if any benefit. It is possible that some constituents of marujiana may turn out to have ral medical uses, but so far nothing has panned out. And that’s to say nothing of the problem of varying content in the whole product of whatever substance is doing the small amount some studies have shown.

  21. jrkrideau says

    Constellation will pay about $245 million Canadian ($191 million) for a 9.9 percent stake in Canopy Growth Corp.
    Aha, they are buying into Snoop Dogg’s business.

  22. says

    I live in Oregon and have several friends in the weed business who are really struggling to stay afloat right now. Prices have crashed from about $2k a pound several years ago to between $500-$1000 and the growers I know are having real trouble making the books add up at that rate. Aside from the obvious material costs of soil, fertilizer, pots, etc there is a lot of labor involved in harvesting and trimming bud to prepare it for sale. Probably at least $100-$200 a pound. The inevitable trend seems to be that the small growers will have to find new lines of work while moneyed interests figure out how to leverage economies of scale and fuck over workers to undercut everyone else.

  23. consciousness razor says

    She wasn’t thinking about entertainment at the time.

    But wouldn’t it have been a good thing, if she could’ve occasionally had some simple, inexpensive comforts to make her life slightly less miserable? Is there any intelligible reason why other people ought to go through the same shit, or is this just about minimizing other people’s awful living conditions/experiences so that you don’t have to take it too seriously?

    If somebody had told her “okay, we’re going to take away from you whatever exciting/interesting/pleasurable things that we feel like, because we’ve decided what your whole life and all of your priorities are going to be,” then do you think she would’ve said that sounds like a great excuse for collecting an insignificant amount of extra tax revenue? Or does that not sound like a decent justification, but more like a load of bullshit from a bunch of pretentious assholes?

    What you call poverty I would call acceptable living conditions.

    No. Something only slightly less hostile to basic survival, compared to what your mom experienced, is nowhere near acceptable.

    A poor person who claimed that they need alcohol, weed and movie tickets would get nothing but contempt and nobody would believe that this person really is poor.

    You seem to believe there’s a very sharp line, dividing the “poor” from the “not-poor,” but there certainly isn’t one. And it certainly isn’t something that “nobody” would believe, since it’s just you and perhaps some people who you think you’re representing.

    Of course some people who live in poverty are so desperate and unhappy that they will spend what little money they have on alcohol rather than on food.

    I didn’t say “rather than food,” which welfare programs should be offering anyway (along with medicine), as you yourself said. If their very basic, minimal needs are taken care of, yet they are still in fact poor, which is the situation that very many people are actually in, then what’s the fucking problem with other people deciding for themselves (not you or the state) how they’ll spend their own fucking money (whatever tiny amount they may have to spare)?

    Here’s the thing: I think we can both understand that you’re not going to conjure up a serious conclusion that says anything remotely like “poor people don’t deserve happiness/pleasure/etc.,” or “that stuff is not something we should value,” or “they aren’t people we should value.” And if you don’t have that sort of hidden premise to build on, then you apparently just have a non sequitur in your argument, because I don’t see how you’d get from A to B any other way.

    But I don’t think that society should encourage alcohol (or weed) addictions among the poor. Getting drunk only worsens the problem and hinders the possibility of improving your living conditions.

    It sounds like you’re simply against alcohol and marijuana, because you’ve associated access to them with “addiction,” which is not how it works. But if that’s the idea, why not prohibition instead? Do you think the right policy is to encourage addictions among those rich enough to afford the tax? Sounds stupid to me. Do those people have some special non-poor sort of quality about them, which makes it all work out somehow?

    What exactly do you think you would get out of the deal, by aiming this policy (in its effect) at poor people? You’ll still be able to enjoy your life however you want, and it’s supposed to be okay that you’re ensuring they can’t do the same? Why the hell should anybody believe that?

  24. says

    consciousness razor @#25

    Just how rich your country is? I’m getting the impression that we fail to reach common understanding, because the places we live in are very different. In my country there are people who are either homeless or don’t have an adequate place to live. Deaths from hunger are nonexistent, but only because the government is giving welfare payments and food packs to poor people who request those. Homeless people actually freezing to death in winters is rare, but it occasionally happens. So far the government hasn’t been able to ensure that every citizen’s basic needs are met. Thus I believe that my government’s priority ought to be to ensure that everybody gets adequate shelter and nutrition. Until these problems are solved, my government shouldn’t worry about other less poor people whose only problem is that they don’t have access to more expensive forms of entertainment. If you live in a country where homelessness and hunger doesn’t exist, great for you, congratulations! Your government has successfully solved all the worst problems and now your government is free to worry about poorer people’s entertainment options. However, I shall remind you that majority of human population live in countries where lack of entertainment options is not poor people’s primary problem.

    And it certainly isn’t something that “nobody” would believe,

    No, it is exactly as I said.

    since it’s just you and perhaps some people who you think you’re representing.

    I’m not representing anybody. I’m only stating that people’s perception of “poverty” is relative. In a country where the GDP per capita is $2,000, somebody who earns $10,000 would be perceived as rich. In a country where the GDP per capita is $50,000, somebody who earns $10,000 would be perceived as poor. Similarly, in a culture where a significant portion of population actually suffers from hunger or homelessness, anybody who is not hungry and homeless would be perceived as not poor.

    No. Something only slightly less hostile to basic survival, compared to what your mom experienced, is nowhere near acceptable.

    Of course such conditions aren’t desirable. Humanity should strive to ensure that every person gets as good living conditions as possible. But I’ll remind you that on this planet we have billions of people who would be happy if their only problem was figuring out how to get entertainment.

    If you don’t want to tax recreational drugs, what do you want to tax instead? I have a preference for a welfare state (similar to Sweden). That means also high taxes. And you have to tax something. If not weed, what then? I believe that taxing recreational drugs is better than taxing food, medicine and textbooks. Besides, when talking about tax collecting, you seem to use vocabulary with negative connotations. Why? In anything but failed states tax revenue is used mostly for the purpose of helping the poor (welfare payments, free education, healthcare and so on). Oh, and in anything but failed states it is impossible to collect enough tax money by taxing only the richest 1%. That means also the remaining 99% have to pay taxes.

    If somebody had told her “okay, we’re going to take away from you whatever exciting/interesting/pleasurable things that we feel like, because we’ve decided what your whole life and all of your priorities are going to be

    Taking away all pleasurable things is impossible. Many forms of entertainment are very cheap or completely free (in contrast with more costly recreational drugs).

    what’s the fucking problem with other people deciding for themselves (not you or the state) how they’ll spend their own fucking money (whatever tiny amount they may have to spare)?

    I never said that people shouldn’t be allowed to decide for themselves. It just so happens that whenever a state gives poor people money, these people generally tend to decide to spend it on things like food.

    And, yes, sure, costly forms of entertainment are great to have. It’s just that on this planet we currently have billions of people who have other more urgent problems.

    You seem to believe there’s a very sharp line, dividing the “poor” from the “not-poor,”

    I never said that. I only said that within a single country, the needs of the poorest people take precedence over the needs of those who are less poor.

    It sounds like you’re simply against alcohol and marijuana, because you’ve associated access to them with “addiction,” which is not how it works.

    I never said that. It’s none of my business what other people drink or smoke.

    Do you think the right policy is to encourage addictions among those rich enough to afford the tax? Sounds stupid to me. Do those people have some special non-poor sort of quality about them, which makes it all work out somehow?

    What? I never said that. Don’t you think there ought to be some limit how far you go with interpreting other people’s words? I know misunderstanding other people’s words is possible, but this almost looks like a deliberate strawman.

    What exactly do you think you would get out of the deal, by aiming this policy (in its effect) at poor people? You’ll still be able to enjoy your life however you want, and it’s supposed to be okay that you’re ensuring they can’t do the same? Why the hell should anybody believe that?

    Come on…. This is getting ridiculous. If you go for a strawman, at least make it non ridiculous, please!

    A tax on recreational drugs is not aimed at poor people. It is aimed at whoever happens to buy and consume them. If largest drug consumers end up being poor people who, in fact, cannot truly afford to buy this stuff, then that’s a reliable indicator that the state’s social workers have utterly failed with their job.

    When a hungry person chooses to spend their last dollar on alcohol instead of food, this is often a sign that they are addicted. State cannot solve this person’s problems by making alcohol cheaper, instead this person’s problems ought to be solved by social workers who give them money, get them a home, help them get a job, educate them if they are unemployed because of lack of education. And if the person suffers from addictions, the state should offer treatment. And when this person’s life gets better and their income increases, they finally ought to have enough money to buy food and, if they choose to, also taxed recreational drugs.

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