Pot in Washington

According to KOMO TV, the last known medical cannabis cooperative in the state was raided and shut down. Which means Washington is the first state to go completely retail without pretense of medical use.

Contrast this with around 19 states currently debating medical use laws, which even if passed are doomed to be obsolete in a couple of years. Oregon should be “medical-free” this year, and California has already set the time-bombs into law that eliminate the system there. Colorado, though, hangs in there and keeps two regulatory systems in parallel. I can buy the argument that they are letting the market decide, but most states want to avoid duplication of effort and the cost involved with this test. But if the taxpayers are OK with it, let it run. It’s a great experiment.

I’ll be talking more about cannabis. Legislatures are winding up and will be passing new laws, and I’ll be moving through California to see the impact of the new system just 6 weeks after it was implemented.

Things in Deming

Jim and Bobbie stopped by yesterday on their way to Phoenix from New Orleans. Haven’t seen them in three years, so that was good. Unfortunately their black tank broke on their way out of NO, which makes an RV pretty useless. So they’re motelling it until they get home.

Two years ago I replaced two of my RV tires here in Deming, and tried another brand/size that was very highly recommended by the tire place here. Those have been the best tires I’ve ever had, so tomorrow I’ll replace the other two. I’m hoping this puts an end to my tire and axle problems I’ve had forever.

Today I had Indian food for lunch. A new restaurant opened in the old Deming Truck Stop location, which makes a great stop for the Indian truck drivers. The food was very good, but the buffet was rather small. Indian is a nice change down here.

Still planning on heading out on Friday, for Yuma.

Deming, NM

It had been raining the last couple of days, but I had a little break to get to Deming. Then the water really came down once I got parked.

It was a good time in Benson. The group was smaller than expected, but then after ten years, a lot of folk don’t travel much anymore. It was great seeing friends again.

I’ll be in Deming for a week.

Benson, AZ

I landed at an rv park to meet up with several people I’ve known since being on the road. We’ll be here until the end of the week. Should be fun!

More pot in Oregon

The US Attorney for Oregon called a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the overproduction of legal marijuana in Oregon. It’s guessed that Oregon produces three times what it consumes legally, presumably the excess is sent to other states, which is a violation of federal trafficking laws.

He said “Make no mistake. We are going to do something about it but that requires an effort to do this together.” He recognizes that he can’t do anything without the support of the states and local governments. A typical Federal raid on an Oregon business would be politically distasteful, completely unsupported by local law enforcement, a huge target for millions of lawyers, and impossible to get past a jury.

So, the Fed’s hands are kinda small here. To solve the “problem” one must go to the states. How the states might respond:

A license to grow marijuana is issued by the state, about 1000 farms each in OR and WA. Both have no limits on the number of farmers. (Oregon has registered 25,000 medical grows in addition) They could rescind the licenses of half of the farmers, who will go back to the old (tried-and-true) illegal way of doing things.

The states could reduce the permitted canopy. If you are licensed for 10,000 square feet, you can only grow 5,000. Fine, but expect (these are clever guys) the yield-per-square-foot to rise by hundreds of percent in 3 years.

They can PAY farmers to not grow cannabis. Putting the taxpayer on the line for paying more for pot than they can get it at the neighborhood store. Think milk or sugar.

The states can go after the scofflaws. A large portion of the tax revenue from cannabis is earmarked for law enforcement. They can easily get federal help here, but you’d have local police enforcing local laws.

But, we’re not even close to talking about California…

Out of Yuma

I got my mail today, so off I go tomorrow to Tucson, with a stop in Gila Bend. The weather is excellent, and the citrus is abundant.

Then, off to Benson AZ for a get-together with old friends. Since Benson is sorta close to New Mexico, it’s off to Deming for a green chili cheeseburger or two. And no doubt a dust storm or two.

I’ll leave Deming and head to the Northwest, so it’s back in Yuma in a month or so.

Pot in Oregon

Oregon recently conducted “decoy” operations on some pot shops to verify compliance with the over-21 sales law, with really bad results. State-wide the compliance rate was around 80%, but in Portland it was only 47%. Recent results of the same test in Washington were around 97%. Oregon’s results can be regarded as a complete breakdown, by everyone involved.

A well-run cannabis store has 2 or 3 ID checks built into every transaction: a security guard checking at the door to prevent entry of minors, like a night-club, and another check by the cashier. Properly done both events are recorded on video. All customers are carded regardless of their obvious age. It’s a pain in the ass, but the risks of not complying are loss of business license, and perhaps federal raids, leading to a shut-down of an entire state’s program.

Almost everyone involved in this industry from growers to processors to sellers to customers to regulators accept this annoyance as necessary as the programs grow up from infancy. We can do the fine-tuning later when things settle down.

Carding everyone is a pain, but actually selling pot to a minor is really stupid. To have a failure rate of 50% is unfathomable. Now, to be fair here, the decoy operations are usually targeting stores for which suspicious activity has been brought to the attention of the regulatory agency, but regulators also routinely announce the operations to licensees ahead of time, making failures even worse.

Oregon’s laws are quite remarkable in the light hand put on the industry to encourage growth and capturing as many operations as possible into the licensing program. They have no limits on the number of licenses, and entry costs into the industry are the lowest anywhere. And taxes are about as low as you’ll see anywhere. Contrast with California.

Customers have some power here. I encountered a few stores in Oregon that didn’t card me, never in Nevada or Washington (unless I’m on a first-name basis with the store). I encountered one store in Oregon that couldn’t print receipts, didn’t enter the sale into the mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system, and didn’t have the paper to print the required warnings, test results, and provenance information. I stopped the transaction and left. I should have asked to see their license.

Customers, you have plenty of law-abiding stores with high-quality products to choose from, don’t give the jerks your money. And if you’re willing to write a quick note, let the regulators and the lawmakers know you expect them to do their jobs.

Yuma again

I;m back in Yuma for several days. A group of people I know pulled in behind me, so that’ll be something to do. Very warm here.

Local preemption of WA pot laws

When CO, WA, and OR passed their initiatives to legalize marijuana use, possession, growing, and sales, there weren’t any mentions of the powers granted to local jurisdictions. Very quickly some locales passed bans or moratoriums on the facilities, and some ignored the issue. The states have been trying to align this unanticipated behavior ever since.

WA lawmakers take the approach that their state laws override the locals, which is kinda ironic because they feel the federal laws can be overridden by the state. There are a few bills in the works now that address this sticky problem.

When the state allocated licenses to retailers and growers they assumed that all the licensed entities would go into business, and generate tax revenues. If the licensee were stopped by local authorities, it would mean a reduction in those anticipated tax revenues. I sometimes refer to pot shops as “tax collection offices”, since almost half their receipts goes to the state.

The most powerful individuals in the legislature are firmly committed to fixing this, preferably by limiting the locals from an override.

California saw what was happening and adjusted the licensing process so that no state license could be issued unless the local jurisdiction had already approved and licensed the firm applying for a license. This had the happy result that the state itself was disconnected from local squabbles over the presence of “the devil’s lettuce” operations. A frequent complaint is that a state-licensed store is sited near a day-care center, which is not one of the limits in WA. Personally, I just don’t see how a four-year-old is going to be influenced by seeing a pot store near their day-care, and licensees aren’t so dumb as to sell anything to them. Some people complain about having a pot store across from a bus stop their kids use. California lawmakers and regulators get a pass on these types of complaints.

I like the CA approach, but fixing this in WA is fairly complex because of the way the laws are written. There really isn’t any possibility of the state losing it’s revenue as sales have been much, much, higher than originally planned; it’s no biggie if some ag town in eastern Washington prohibits pot stores. And if the state ceded control to the locals it would substantially reduce the hassles and workload in Olympia. There are several bills in WA attempting to fix this, but the power is trying to keep state control.

Busy in Q

The tent show opens tomorrow, and the place is busy. It’s never “full” as there is a near-infinite amount of desert out here, but the roads get clogged. And the truckers get grumpy at their fuel-stop exit. Luckily, in about 8 days a large number of folks pack up and go.

Steve and Sandy are parked here, and I hear others will be coming.

The weather is changing, with Saturday being good kite-flying. And then a bit cooler for a while.