Washington Pot

It’s been 6 years since the cannabis laws were written in Washington state (Colorado, too) and like all man-made things, some maintenance is needed. The legislature convened yesterday, and I’ll be watching what they do this year.

The first bill filed deals with the oldest bone of contention, distance setbacks of cannabis businesses from places where children congregate. A couple of anti-pot representatives, there aren’t many left, continue to try to expand the provisions with the goal of keeping any cannabis business out of their community. There haven’t been any issues with this provision anywhere, except that existing laws specifying 1000 feet from schools and parks can be quite difficult to work with. I expect very few will be in support of expanding the provisions, likely not even getting out of committee.

As an aside, the committee responsible for all things cannabis in Washington tends to favor the cannabis industry. Not because they necessarily like cannabis, but because they like the revenue that’s being generated.

Washington has always been a loner of all states in not allowing “home grows”, but this year a bill was submitted to correct that. Residential marijuana agriculture, as it’s been renamed, has been professionally written and has good support in committee, so it will likely pass this year. Growing for personal use will be allowed, with a limit of 6 plants per person, 15 plants per household. Done right, those limits can produce a lot of cannabis, but relatively few people are any good at this. It won’t present any problems, and the impact on taxes or the market will be trivial. I wish the hobbyists good luck, I’m glad they won’t be going to jail, but it’s a lot simpler to go to the neighborhood store.

Washington will, no doubt, be modernizing it’s testing requirements for cannabis to better align with other states. Cannabis is by far the most-tested of any agricultural crop in all states, and Washington will be adding pesticide testing. This will add a considerable cost to the products, but that has proven acceptable in other states.

In coming days more bills will be submitted for consideration.

Fox News

Wow, I’m surprised. Fox News has run an opinion piece by Tom Basile on marijuana legalization, in which he invents a typical Fox conspiracy theory that the Democrats are hypocrites for ignoring negative studies on the use of pot. Specifically, he claims the Dems are getting money from “Big Pot”, even though the science says it’s harmful.

First off, until this recent election cycle the Democrats (and Republicans) have been completely off the record regarding cannabis, which was sometimes frustrating. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA, but no more) was basically a hero for devoting years of effort to protect the medical marijuana industry from the DOJ. Roger Stone was the source of the money for legalization efforts across the country, and we assume that to the extent that Trump had a notion on the subject, it came from Stone.

The “big pot” argument is Kevin Sabet’s current effort to fight any and all pro-cannabis efforts. Usually described as “a person who has never held a real job”, Sabet has been the go-to guy for anti-cannabis efforts for years, but his arguments have repeatedly crumbled as they were analyzed. He’s been a great foil, though, when the media need a false-equivalency source to quote. His organization did (with substantial help from a big pharma business) manage to defeat the Arizona legalization initiative, but he has 42 losses to his credit.

Big pot doesn’t exist. In fact, every state has laws that strongly discourage large companies, and few companies are going to get very big as long as it’s illegal at the federal level and they can’t use banking services.

As far as ignoring studies, robust scientific studies can’t be done because they have to be done with federal money, which is illegal. There are many projects out there, but they are small and almost always quite flawed, no matter what they show. The claim that cannabis can cure cancer is just as ridiculous as the claim that it causes psychosis in teenagers. Or it causes low sperm count. These stories have been around since the 1960’s, and none have stood up to the scientific process because the analysis can’t be done.

If there is a conspiracy to ignore negative results, there is also one to ignore positive results because neither have the backing of good science. That’s why almost all states have on their books a plea for reliable research, and the debate in all states include frustration that information is missing. My approach is to discount all “studies”, no matter what they conclude.

An interesting thing happened in the last election, which might have prompted the Fox fiction writers to go to work. It was unorganized, but a surprising number of politicians who came out in favor of legalization got elected. And they were mainly Democrats. Previously, candidates who expressed support usually got beat because they were labeled “pot heads”. Even the pro-pot organizations are still figuring out how this happened.

Fox hasn’t been very interested in the topic until now, so be careful what you see from them on the cannabis topic.

Quartzsite

I’m back in Q for a while. Trump’s shutdown has no impact on us here in the LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area), except the BLM isn’t collecting data or money. I dumped on the way in today, got water, and the trash bins are being serviced. Business as usual here as well as in town, and at the 14-day places.

The bad news is that the number of people is increasing fast. It is the town of Quartzsite’s one month of money coming in.

California Pot

A year in now, the situation in CA is mixed. The state system was reasonable, given it was California, but to have 500-something towns and counties come up with their own rules, sometimes just as complicated, turns the ability to do business into a joke.

Those with an infinite amount of money and lawyers are clearly up and running just fine, but the many thousands of “little people” are still trying to navigate the licensing systems. Meanwhile, the illegal market thrives as it always has.

Los Angeles just recently licensed a few stores, and looks forward to 400. There are a few thousand non-store businesses to license (growers, processors, etc), and the city just recently staffed up to 10 people. Think of LA as about the size of a western state, with the rules about as thorough, then add the state’s requirements.

But there’s hope. Attorneys in CA are becoming very vocal about the legal mess that’s been created so it’s likely something will change.

Yuma for a while

I’m back in Yuma for a change of scenery and access to better food. Quartzsite eateries are very, very mundane.

As usual I’m at the VFW/BLM spot, but this time the WINS (an RV travel club) are here, nearly filling the place up. Every year I run into them at least once as we have similar routes in the SW. The hassle is that I have my solar panels set up for a direction that I couldn’t match because of space. Extra work.

The Trump shutdown has minimal impact at the Q parking areas, except now there is no garbage pickup, and all the dumpsters were overflowing. Folk can use the county’s transfer station (about 14 miles away) but it isn’t set up to handle everybody. As a rule, RV’rs are kind to the environment and gladly use the facilities provided. Now they’ll be going into town and hunting down the merchants’ trash bins.

Or, stashing their garbage in the desert somewhere…

BLM and Trump’s shutdown

I’m sitting on BLM land right now. The check-in station is closed, but the dump and water stations are open, though not monitored. So it’s basically business-as-usual, very low impact. These functions are staffed by unpaid volunteers, but they cannot “work” anyway during the shutdown. No savings here.

An observation: Over the last month I’ve seen BLM enforcement just once. Today I’ve seen them 5 times. This may be the usual gov’t theater when they want to make a point, but extra staff put on for the shutdown just increases costs.

It’s absurd adults act this way…

Vermont Pot

Vermont is a legal state, but it does not have a regulated commercial market. They are considering state control of a marketplace, but requested a committee provide input to the decision makers.

The committee recommended that the issue of detecting impaired driving be addressed first and foremost before proceeding.

My note to Vermont: Over 30 states, hundreds of counties, thousands of communities, several nations, and all Canadian provinces have looked at this issue and there is no “solution” known. Nor is anything vaguely practical even proposed.

Skip this one, like everyone else has, and proceed with the rest of the plan.

De-prohibition on the East Coast

After so many years of successful legalization in the West, I’m baffled by the approaches seen in the East:

New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo: “We will end the disproportionate criminalization of one race over another by regulating, legalizing and taxing the adult use of recreational marijuana.” (December 17, 2018).

New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu (from Weed News): “Gov. Chris Sununu came out swinging against the effort to legalize marijuana Friday, calling it one of the biggest policy fights for his administration next year and urging members of a prominent state drug and alcohol commission to rally against its passage.” (December 14, 2018).

Rhode Island, State Representative: “With the reality of it being all around us, I think folks have to look at it a little harder now.” (December 3, 2018). This is the “everybody else is doing it” argument.

Some of the electeds back East are having a reality problem…

Hemp is legal in the US

Hemp is cannabis, the same plant that we argue about called marijuana. Like all plants, in various degrees, cannabis has a rich enough genome to adapt to different environments.

The Farm Bill legalizes hemp throughout the US, provided it contains less than .3% THC. That makes it a shitty smoke, but it’s great for seed oil and fiber. When it was made illegal in the 70’s along with it’s cousin marijuana, the production and marketing facilities dried up, which have to be re-created for it to viable again. That will be tough, as replacements are now readily available.

The significance of this bill is that the US Government has finally acknowledged cannabis as a useful plant, and has created the language to deal with it. Now it can debate laws about it. But I still don’t see why we have to debate laws for a plant.

The immediate impact is going to be a plethora of scams involving hemp-derived oils and CBD.

Oklahoma Pot

The people of Oklahoma passed an initiative enabling medical marijuana. The state immediately went to work to implement it, the law was a good one, and they’re coming online with little fuss or muss.

They are out of the gate with 742 medical marijuana dispensaries licensed. A dispensary is much like a store, but also grows cannabis. Retail stores in other states do not need to grow, and in Washington they cannot. Still, dispensaries have a sign or something, something that makes them as visible as a store.

Washington has 500-something stores right now, Oregon is around 700, Colorado is around 1000. To have Oklahoma open up with 700 is shocking. Oklahoma City has over 180 licenses, about what Portland, OR has.

Seems out of scale with the population to me…