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Maine and Vermont Pot

Stores opened in Maine this weekend, 4 years after voters passed their legalization initiative. You see, the governor didn’t like the law the voters passed, preferring the underground market which has done quite well for those four years. As is typical, launch day had few stores open with very limited supply, long lines of buyers, and high prices.

In Vermont cannabis was legal, but you couldn’t sell it. That was corrected last week when the governor let a law setting up a regulated market take affect. Look for stores to open in mid 2022.

This pinches New Hampshire by Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts who will be gladly taking tax money from New Hampshire citizens.

Cannabis Appellations in CA

Gov Newsom signed into law an appellation rule for cannabis. Appellation refers to a particular area where a crop is grown; it protects the growers against fakers relying on the reputation of the protected growers. The laws are legally quite strong.

“Champagne” is the classic example of a protected appellation. Napa Valley and Sonoma County are appellations for CA wines. Now the cannabis growers can rely on the same protections the grape growers have.

You can expect to see (you already do) the appellation for county of origin (Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, etc), but each county has a surprising number of mini-climates that will be used as appellations. There’s the coastline that is wet and at elevation, followed by valleys and then another run up with plenty of rain and fog. Cannabis is a plant that is flexible enough to take advantage of all these different climates. There is no better place to grow cannabis in the world because of these characteristics. Hence, the appellation has considerable market value.

An odd thing about the law is that indoor growers can use the appropriate appellation that applies to them. Indoor growers have, theoretically, complete control over their growing climate, and can exactly match a particular growing environment anywhere, no matter where they might be. Like New Jersey. Appellations can be applied to indoor grows, but only if 100% of the product comes from that appellation, protecting the grower from the NJ indoor grower that is simulating the environment in California.

Aficionados will be happy about this, a more average consumer likely won’t care much. Think about the wine selection at the grocery store: Some do buy based on appellation, but most don’t. I am pleased with this because I always buy ag products based on the locale where I am. For any farm product I always go for the closest grower as I can, and the smaller the better. I want something I know was grown by a real farmer with a family, not a mega-corporation.

Pot and Halloween

Tis the season for the myth that “marijuana-laced” candy is being handed out to children. This has not happened in reality.

A big “tell” that you’re looking at the myth is use of the word “laced” which is never used in cannabis circles. Another is that the report comes from a small-town sheriff or minor police officer from a prohibitionist state. Actually, be suspicious of ANY law enforcement officer making such a claim.

Ignorant cops like to show pictures of the goods in question which are copies of popular products that appeal to kids. No legal state allows such products or packaging, and all legal packages have detailed sourcing data which is easily traced.

It’s quite common in the illegal states for counterfeits to circulate on the black market, but it’s not difficult to examine and research such packages to see where they come from. If you are a consumer in such a state, please learn how to tell what you’re buying. Better yet, become an activist to change the drug laws in your state which are the source of the danger.

Alternate Reality

I came across this story from Bedford, Illinois, WBIW.com. A Mr. Lantz and Ms. Thornton were busted for selling marijuana:

According to a probable cause affidavit on Thursday, September 3rd at approximately 11:59 p.m. a confidential informant was given an undisclosed amount of cash to purchase marijuana from Thornton. The informant recorded the drug deal.

An undercover officer also witnessed the drug deal.

The informant purchased 18 grams of marijuana from Thornton.

On Friday, September 11th at approximately 9:20 p.m. the informant was again given cash and purchased 8 more grams of marijuana from Thornton.

On Thursday, September 17th at approximately 8:05 p.m. the informant was given cash and purchased 15 grams of marijuana from Thornton.

Police say during each of the controlled buys, Lantz was standing near by providing security for Thornton while she sold the marijuana.

The perpetrators were booked and charged. To the informant Ms. Thornton sold a half, a quarter, and another half over two weeks. A bit more than the customary one ounce limit per day allowed per transaction in legal states. The informant appears to be a casual marijuana consumer.

Giving an informant cash to buy marijuana is terribly illegal in legal states. Straw purchases are used to bypass limits on age or residency, and come with serious charges for all involved.

Mr. Lantz was charged as aiding, because he was watching the transaction. In legal states the stores hire security guards and install mandated cameras for security.

Indiana is, of course, a very illegal state when it comes to marijuana, but this whole episode is completely ridiculous.

Washington State Medical Marijuana

I renewed my medical marijuana card the other day. That might seem odd in a legal state, but I can explain. First, here’s an overview of the medical marijuana program in Washington.

The voters passed I-692 in 1998 to enable a basic medical marijuana program. Similar to others already passed, “caregivers” could grow a small number of plants to supply their “patients” for money to cover the grower’s costs. Both parties would need to be registered with the Board of Health, and patients would require a doctor’s “advice” to use marijuana. As was typical then, the law was loose, vague, and subject to interpretation. Slowly the program evolved to include “collectives” and “dispensaries”, essentially larger-scale grows and storefronts. The patient count expanded quickly as many medical professionals could issue advice, likely for a tiny fee for a brief “examination”. The looseness of the law led to an explosion in marijuana businesses with no regulation.

In 2011, Senate Bill 5073 was written to reign in the program a bit, to impose more stringent rules and regulations. It passed the legislature and was sent to Governor Christine Gregoire’s desk for final signature.

Before she signed it into law, US Attorney Jenny Durkan wrote a letter to the governor threatening federal action under the controlled substance law against the governor and any state employee involved in implementing the law. The Cole Memo hadn’t been issued yet. Gregoire buckled and vetoed the bill, which guaranteed that none of the reforms would happen. Jenny Durkan is now the mayor of Seattle. (She is currently a political target of the moron).

That prompted Initiative 502 in 2012 to fully legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in the state. I-502 had a provision that allowed the medical marijuana program, as weak as it was, to continue. The thinking was that caregivers would get a “502” license to grow, patients wouldn’t have to pay sales tax on their purchases, and dispensaries would get a retail license.

The high costs of retail marijuana under 502 offered no incentive for existing medical caregivers and patients to switch to the new taxed and regulated regime. The legislature attacked this problem by tightening up the medical program wherever they could, but not by just eliminating it. There was a political price to be paid for “taking away medicine from sick people”. Customers in the 502 system migrated to the new way, and dropped their medical authorizations. The medical system is very small nowadays, but still functions here and there, though with very limited legal protection.

To get a medical card in WA one needs a doctor’s recommendation. I asked at my neighborhood pot shop for a reference to such a doctor and was sent to a Naturopathic Doctor in town. My visit cost $140, lasted about 30 minutes, and I found it to be quite informative. She authorized me as a caregiver able to grow 15 plants as well as purchase cannabis without sales tax. It’s easy to find a doctor at festivals and concerts for about $50 and it only takes a few minutes. I went back to the shop with my paperwork and got a card, free except I tipped them $5.

With my card I can:

Purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower at one time. One ounce is the legal standard in WA.

Avoid the 10% sales tax, but must pay the 27% marijuana tax.

Store 16 ounces in my home.

Grow 15 plants. Homegrowing under 502 in WA is illegal.

Now, the ability to purchase 3 ounces at one time isn’t worth much if you can grab an eighth ounce whenever you want it by taking a 5 minute drive. And I have no idea what I would do with a pound of marijuana as it deteriorates quickly. I have no land, so no place to grow a single plant. I have no patients to reimburse my growing costs even if I had the space.

I have two reasons to have a medical card when I don’t need it. The first is that it is a way to buy rights from the state which gives me more privilege than other people. I think that this is an absurd proposition. Given that the state “sells” certain rights to some and arrests the rest for the same behavior has always been my objection to medical marijuana laws in the first place.

The medical card gives me “standing” to comment on the subject, specifically to law makers and enforcers. Which I do. My goal is to make legal marijuana legal, everyone gets the same rights to grow, process, sell, and consume.

Planning

My normal travel is to head south this time of year. When the virus hit in March, I put off any decision-making until Sep 1. So here I am:

The virus is a big question mark. I am in a very safe place here on the northern Olympic Peninsula, but it’s unclear what the situation is or will be both along my route as well as any destination. Lockdowns and such might interfere with my plans, and I’ve got to consider that I might catch the virus in a very inconvenient place.

Routing is complicated by the wildfires almost everywhere in the West. I’ve dodged these things before but it’s not a favorite activity of mine. This season is shaping up to be particularly bad. Fires create refugees, and those people are put in places I generally use as parking places along my route.

A very serious family matter has come up and I do not know what will be happening on that front. While I cannot directly do much about the situation, it potentially could impact me economically. I’ve got to be ready for that.

And the economy itself could seriously impact my family if things don’t hang together. Another potential demand that I must plan for.

Then we have the general news/politics, especially related to the election. Who knows what the next thing will be that’s disruptive to “normal” life?

If I do not head south, I will be spending the winter here in Chimacum, something I haven’t done before. Some effort will be required to winterize my rig and to improve my heating.

That’s way more things than what I had planned on before I decide to take off, so I’m waiting to see for another few weeks. I’m in a safe situation right now, and I might be forced to keep it that way for the winter.

Legalization on the November Ballot

Four states have cannabis legalization questions on the ballot this fall:

Arizona Arizona has the most robust and successful medical marijuana program in the nation, and polls suggest the initiative will pass this year. Given the way the medical system is built, it will be almost an instantaneous switch to full legalization once it passes.

Montana Voters have two questions to decide: One is a constitutional amendment to set the legal age for marijuana at 21. The other is to fully legalize cannabis by statute like we see in other states.

South Dakota Voters will be presented with two initiative choices, one a medical program, the other fully legalizing cannabis like we see in other states.

New Jersey This will be the first cannabis legalization measure posed to voters via the legislative referendum process. Referendums are put to voters to push off the responsibility for the results to the citizens rather than the elected lawmakers, and to get ahead of a possible citizen initiative that might enact ideas the government doesn’t prefer.

There will be medical issues put to the electorate in scattered states, as well as local questions about bans, permitting, and taxation. Nationwide, these will number in the hundreds.

The biggest liar in the world has already stated his position on these efforts: Because these issues are expected to attract people to the voting booth, he views them as a threat to his reelection and to his party. I expect some very strange opposition arguments where ever the questions are posed.

Point Hudson

Every year I escape from the view of RVs and trees for the RV park and marina at Pt Hudson for a view of boats and water. I’ll be here for 8 days, and expecting so-so weather.

Legal and Illegal States

Activity on the cannabis status has been slowed considerably by the virus as regulatory agencies reinvent how they do work, and electioneering efforts ground to a halt. But activity has recently picked up so I expect I’ll be commenting on things more frequently.

I assembled a couple of lists of the basics as an overview of the present situation:

All of the legal states achieved legalized marijuana for use by any adult via voter-approved initiatives, except Illinois. All had and have an existing medical marijuana program of some sorts. Almost all the states enacted a regulation structure that issues licenses to grow, process, sell, test, use, and possess, as well as a taxation system.

Washington (2012) Considered a mature market and regulatory structure.

Colorado (2012) Considered a mature market and regulatory structure.

Oregon (2014) Considered a mature market and regulatory structure.

Alaska (2014) Considered a mature market and regulatory structure.

District of Columbia (2014) No sales allowed. Possession only.

Nevada (2016) Rapidly developing market and regulatory structure.

California (2016) A “legacy” market far bigger than any market in the world, with a regulatory structure so complex, so bureaucratic, and so expensive and time consuming to navigate, that it touches just a tiny portion of the market.

Massachusetts (2016) Implementation proceeding, albeit very slowly. Only a handful of stores are open in mid-2020. Decision-making is bogged down in slow deliberation.

Maine (2016) Politics prevented the state from implementing the legalization initiative, but the first licenses and sales are available in Oct 2020.

Vermont (2018) Grow, possess and consume only. In October 2020 they legalized sales; first sales due 2022.

Michigan (2018) Developing market efficiently and reasonably implemented in 2020.

Illinois (2019) The first to be implemented by legislative action. Stores in operation in 2020.

In 2012 and 2014 the primary objective of legalization was to remove criminal penalties from growing, selling, and possessing marijuana. State regulation and taxation were accepted as helpful compromises to accomplish the main objective, as well as meeting the requirements of the Cole Memo that limited federal interference.

Modern cannabis legalization laws are not just about whether people should go to jail for weed, but how those laws are implemented.

That’s the legal states, where THC does not get you a fine or jail. In the illegal states, any contact with THC involves arrests, fines, and possible jail. Those states are:

Alabama Georgia Idaho IndianaIowa
Kansas KentuckyMississippi Nebraska North Carolina
South Carolina TennesseeVirginia South Dakota Texas
Wisconsin Wyoming

Considering the 11 legal states, and the 17 illegal states, that leaves 23 states with some form of medical marijuana laws. They generally permit contact with THC as if you were in a legal state, but you must register with the state as a patient or caregiver. Otherwise you are subject to the same fines and jail as the illegal states.

Seattle 2

The goons came into town, fired up the protestors, got their video footage (they brought along Fox for this) and then packed up and left. Seems like overkill to me, but it is election season.

Looks like they’re retreating from Portland, too, which will help get things back together there as well.

Keep in mind that almost all of those charged with crimes will be released, and those arrested will be awarded with money. All of the cops involved in these things forget to collect and record evidence of any kind which the courts kinda require, so charges are dismissed, and an unlawful arrest suit is filed. That suit almost always goes to the plaintiff, costing the taxpayers a lot of money.

Seems silly to me, especially since all players know this.