Map of my travels

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States I’ve Visited

Pot in Washington

The local pot store is celebrating it’s third anniversary this week, it was the fifth retail store to open in Washington State. There are now 505 stores state-wide with 421 reporting sales last month. There are 1197 farmers and processors in the state. Consumers have spent $1.2 billion dollars in the last 12 months, of which $300 million went to the state. The industry ranks just behind breweries in the state economy.

When the state began writing the rules there was no information on anything related to the future industry. No one knew how many people consumed, how much they consumed, where it came from, or how they got it. Colorado had a minuscule amount of date collected, but everything was guess-work. That two years of data is extremely useful now; it’s too young to be making any major conclusions from it, but we can see some patterns forming.

One goal of the rules was to prevent cannabis from “getting into the hands of kids”, which is reflected in the large proportion of the laws and regulations addressing this issue. Every state since then has been driven (beyond common sense) by this goal. At this point in time, it looks like regulations in Washington did not decrease the rate of use by minors. Nor did they increase it. It changed nothing in this regard. Under-age use is the same as it was before legalization.

Another goal was to prevent criminal activity. There aren’t any shocking crime waves or cases piled up in courts. Maybe the biggest story was the exporter taking weed back east in rather large quantities, partly led by a Seattle police officer earning $10,000 a month for his expertise in something. Pot shops have been a target of smash-and-grab type robberies, but the amount taken is always so trivial as to make the perpetrators look foolish. One store only lost it’s stock of THC-infused vaginal suppositories, which makes me wonder what the thieves had in mind. I wonder about THC-infused vaginal suppositories, anyway. Naturally, there was a huge drop in arrests for adults owning and consuming marijuana, as well as farming and selling it.

Advocates of the new law crafted the language to favor Washington residents wishing to operate small-scale “Mom-and Pop” farms and stores. The State wrote regulations to prevent Mexican cartels, Los Angeles gangs, the Chicago mafia, California hippies, and Portland effetes from having any ownership at all in the operations. Restrictions on out-of-state interests are so severe that entrepreneurs are short of capital for expansion. But, the cartels did not take over the Washington businesses. Oregon saw this and took the opposite approach, opening up their licenses to anyone from anywhere, speeding up the process in getting operators up and running and collecting tax money.

Two years ago there were contentious City Hall meetings for every license issued involving the neighbors complaining about the perceived threats of noise, crime, smell, traffic, kids, waste, and who knows what else. Last week a licensee on Marrowstone Island, a neighbor, faced the NIMBY crowd over just those complaints. The zoning authorities quickly dismissed their concerns because those have now been cast into the land-use code, and the license was immediately issued because he was in full compliance.

It’s taken two years for the local jurisdictions to get their acts together. But then, the role of local jurisdictions was never anticipated in the state law and noise from them came as a surprise. In both Washington and Colorado this lead to outright bans in some communities, and moratoriums in others to wait and see. After that experience, other states have codified the locals’ role in system.

It’s not a very well-kept secret that certain small banks in Washington have found a way to service the industry, enough so that the state does not have to accept cash for it’s tax payments anymore. Cash is used by the customers exclusively, though.

Taxes are, by far, the highest in the nation. Unfortunately, now is not the time to challenge the legislature to bring them more in line with the other states.

Washington does not allow any off-license growing. Those that sprout a seed and grow a plant in their kitchen garden are still subject to state felony penalties, as well as federal sanctions. At present the state Cannabis Board is taking input on the topic of home growing so they can study the issue.

Washington is doing everything to eliminate it’s small medical marijuana program. And so is every other retail-legal state except Colorado. Medical programs don’t have anywhere near the rules as retail, medical farmers and consumers can trade goods without paying the taxes that retail does, the products are identical, and they’re sold in the same place. There’s no reason to have a tax-exempt medical program at all in the state.

Nation-wide, the 29 states with some level of cannabis legalization are watching the federal administration for what it wants to do. The most rational thing is for the feds is to simply strike references to cannabis entirely and leave it to the states to figure out, which I think are doing quite nicely. The irrational thing is that the feds try to put the genie back in the bottle and become the subject of ridicule, lawsuits, political blow back, and economic damage while building an even more robust black market.

In Washington, it’s not possible to see what is ahead. In the West, California will be coming online in January, and Nevada is worth watching. There’s a lot to be learned yet….

Recuperating

The angiogram involves a small incision, then an instrument that goes through the arteries. I was completely out for the procedure, but have some x-ray photos of the problems I have in my legs. Not all can be fixed, but I’ll give it a shot in a couple of weeks for the worse parts.

I was quite sore and swollen when I got home yesterday, but that’s improving a lot while I just lie around and not use my legs much. That could be the case for as long as a week, but not likely.

A couple of years ago I was in the same hospital for five or six days and managed to find some food on the menu that wasn’t bad. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember what was good and had to take a chance this time. I didn’t win that gamble. I can sort of understand why they use industrial-grade canned stuff (cheap, most gets tossed anyway), but it’s still possible to cook it carefully.

So all is well and I will be able to get around just fine in a day or so.

Hospital tomorrow

I’ll go over to Seattle and into the hospital Thursday for an angiogram on my legs, which involves an overnight. Shouldn’t be a big deal at all.

R2AK Done

A two person row boat just finished, minutes before the deadline of the race. They weren’t really going for the speed on this one, so they are dead last.

No lives were lost, no watercraft lost. It was a successful event.

Nevada Pot Sales

Retail sales began today in Nevada, mainly Las Vegas and Reno. They hold the record for passing an initiative to opening stores collecting tax money, 7 months. Whether wise or not they did this by cutting the regulatory bullshit, skipping a lot of the issues important in other states, in the interest of generating income to the state.

We’ll see how well that strategy works. I’m always looking for what states do to contribute to the body of knowledge and experience in de-prohibition. This strategy is worth watching, but they are going to contribute even more because of their unique situation in the US. They’re expecting 2/3 of cannabis sales will be to tourists. Which means that their customer base will be the biggest in the west until California comes online.

When the previous four states began selling cannabis, the customers were somewhat experienced and the operators had some experience and knowledge in the subject. That’s not the case in Nevada: they are predicting their customers will be inexperienced and ignorant. I concur with that prediction.

Smoking pot on the streets is illegal everywhere in the west, and has a very costly fine. Smoking in your hotel room subjects you to substantial de-odorizing fees, plus a costly fine. Taking a stash back home can lead to federal trafficking charges (felony), as well as a sanction from your home state depending on where you are. Edibles are attractive to avoid a lot of this, but the risk of “over-consumption” is high with inexperienced consumers, leading to a spike in emergency room visits.

These are lessons learned from the other states. If you take those lessons, combine it with the inexperience of the customers, and the holes in the regulatory structure, I’m watching carefully how this works.

R2AK notes

I hope that Karl Kruger, the only paddle-boarder to finish the race, has an agent waiting in Ketchikan. There are endorsements, exclusive interviews, personal appearance fees, etc. Paddle-boarding is a very fast-growing pastime with millenials with leisure resources at hand. Then, there is a clip from a video very shortly after he greeted his family on the dock which will be seen forever in R2AK history. Don’t fuck it up, man.

Next to cross the line is Team Nomadica. I was sitting around over the marina just watching the activity before the start and Ryan came up to chat. His trimaran was the smallest boat in the marina; anything smaller could have been carried into the water. It’s 17 feet, and has no cabin or amenities. Like a Hobie Cat. When sailing it, you have chosen to go for a shower in the Salish Sea, water temp about 49 degrees. For 2 weeks.

He should make it in tonight. The wind is coming directly out of Ketchikan towards him, so he’s tacking all the way. Fun.

An SUP in R2AK

A competent Stand Up Paddle Boarder is, after 2 weeks of wind and tides and sleeping on the beach, is about to cross the end-line in Ketchikan. He could do it this evening, but he might knock it off until morning before going in. He’s been very disciplined in sticking with his plan for a day’s work and a night’s rest, which no doubt played a role in making it.

Given the low winds for the bulk of the race, he had an advantage, and leads a half-dozen sail boats much bigger than he.

This is a major feat in the SUP world. Geez, it’s a feat no matter which world of reality you are in.

Go to tracker.r2ak.com and zoom in on Team Heart of Gold to see his progress…

3 Hours

My cardio doctor wanted an ultrasound of my leg arteries, figured it would take about an hour. I went into his office for one on my head and neck a couple of weeks ago. This time I asked if I could get the same thing done on the peninsula, and he filled out a referral to an outfit in Sequim. I was happy. We said our goodbyes and he ran off like the busy big-city heart surgeon he is.

Before I got out the door he caught me and said that I could have it done immediately here in the office. A bell went off in my head, something told me not to do it. (Maybe because I wasn’t suitably prepared to show my private parts to that nice young lady that would do the job).

The referral worked great. In fact, they had an “office” at Jefferson County Hospital, just minutes from me. Except the appointment would be for an hour and a half. When I checked in (nice place just remodeled and expanded last year) they said it would be two hours.

It took three hours.

The tech took it upon himself to “sound” my abdomen, a tricky thing when tracing arteries. I can see when there is serious trouble, and I spotted it quickly. So it’s good he went there.

So I have now an almost totally complete scan of my arteries from my big toes to my eyelids, including a complete mapping of my heart which I believe is in 3D after a very weird radioactive thing I went through.

It all says the same thing. From toes to head my arteries are 50-75% blocked by plaque build-up. No obstructions, though.

Now I get to talk to my cardio about what to patch up first. I’d like to get my legs working right again, but he may suggest saving a vital organ. Looking forward to that discussion…

Pot in the West

Washington did manage to pass a few minor laws concerning the cannabis industry, but that’s been it. It’s system is working well, though.

Oregon’s participation in this experiment was opening up the industry to nearly all comers, and watching out for rules that slow down business development. That seems to have worked quite nicely, as the number of licensed businesses grew much more quickly than in Washington. They screwed up by having the Health Authority involved in the regulation, but that is being fixed. I remain skeptical how their regulatory system is going to deal with the fact that 80% of their crop output was exported out of state. It won’t.

Colorado is trying to clean up after a large export operation was uncovered, which in part operated nicely within some of the rules, giving them a little cover.

Alaska is moving along just fine, in their own way.

Nevada is trying to get retail sales going in about 2 weeks. The liquor distributors cried foul and might have gummed up the works a bit. They want a cut of the action, and apparently have the laws on their side. Personally, there’s something about Nevada, marijuana, and liquor distributors that gives me pause about the wisdom of the whole idea. It sounds like a bad combination.

Meanwhile, California is happening. The Assembly combined the medical marijuana laws (just passed a year ago) with the retail side. This should get rid of the medical side entirely, with just a few remnants left. I’ve mentioned the onerous rules CA are imposing, but they are really trying to make it as easy as possible. And they are contributing a lot to the state of the art. For instance, questions of the location or activities engaged by a licensed business are left to the locals. They will be contributing a lot to other states when they write new laws.

Of course, California supplies 67% of the nation with pot. Licensed entities will not be allowed to export pot out of state. That would be completely illegal. So, if all marijuana growers and sellers in California took out licenses, most of the US would find itself completely out of marijuana. The reality is that most California growers will remain unlicensed and continue exporting into the illegal states at much higher profits without the hassle of laws and regulations. With risk, of course, but they’ve been dealing with that for 50 years.

Washington’s first retail store opened just about 3 years ago. Special sales will be on then, I’m sure.

Traffic jam in Chimacum

Highway 20 is undergoing urgent repair of a culvert and is closed between Port Townsend and 101. While everyone was warned about the closure, the signed detour route goes through downtown Chimacum. So all PT traffic goes through Chimacum.

But no one warned that Chimacum is a four-way stop, and it’s impossible to move that many vehicles through the intersection.

School is out and the PT tourist season goes into high gear now. Then, the many trucks going into and out of the paper plant are on one road rather than splitting them.

This afternoon 4 flaggers (they actually looked like desk-bound highway project managers) were installed. But, since the detour involves a left turn, only one lane can go at once. It’s a mess, but it’s working better than nothing.

I saw no city or county employees at this disaster site: It’s a State project, on State roads, so it’s their problem.

While I had my way of making do for the week the work will take, I didn’t foresee the 4-way in Chimacum, which backs things up to block me from one of those alternate routes. So I might be trapped in here for a while….