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December 2010
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Billboard

Nice job by Sensible Washington — north- and south-facing billboards on I-5.

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22 comments to Billboard

  • divadab

    Thanks for the post, Pete! The billboard will be updated with the 2011 Initiative number when it is issued. The initiative is ready to file with the Secretary of State at the earliest date in January.

    We need 241 thousand signatures to put the question to the people of Washington state. Our goal: 240 (thousand) by 4-20!

    Legalize in 2011 – it’s the sensible thing to do!

  • darkcycle

    We will. Washington, step up.

  • Ben

    Kickass! So awesome to see this movement spreading across the face of the nation.

  • lelimonster

    the newest campaign from the Drug Dealers Union-
    “Not all Dealers are irresponsible- WE ID!”

  • denmark

    This is absolutely nifty.
    Really over joyed to see these billboards out there.

  • kaptinemo

    Beautifully following the old military directive of “Keep It Short and Simple”. And dares the prohibs to open their mouths to refute it. Might as well hand them a bucket of paint and a brush and point them to the corner…

  • chris

    Here in michigan everyone goes north for holidays. I want a billboard that says “marijuana is safer than alcohol. Have a safe holiday!” for drivers to pass by as they head north to their vacation.

  • pfroehlich2004

    Hey this is somewhat off-topic but is anyone aware of any peer-reviewed studies showing a link between marijuana use and academic performance?

    The prohibs routinely trot out the threat to teens’ academic performance that would supposedly result from legalization.

    I’ve done my own research and determined that the 25 highest-ranked states for education levels have higher rates of marijuana use than the bottom half. Also, that high school dropout rates have fallen steadily through periods of rising and falling marijuana use.

    However, for purposes of letter-writing it would be nice to have the backing of a published study. Anybody know of one?

  • vicky vampire

    Yes I have been aware of this info its out there pfroehlich around net seen it on blogs and a few places about academic scores years ago in the in seventies my sis had friend who used pot like it was going out of style she was at top of class made valedictorian yeah this is anecdotal evidence story I’m like mine there’s thousands similar. hey also off topic did any of you see on The Daily Dish Andrew Sullivans blog and book The Cannabis Closet First Hand Accounts Of the Marijuana Mainstream on Atlantic Monthly Web site its 5.95 from blurb pubs. I’m sure many have heard of it already.A great little book that destroys the stereotypes of cannabis users effectively and great impact X-mas gift to myself and Hubby.

  • darkcycle

    pfreolich2004, some studies have shown correlation between pot use and slightly lower GPA’s among college students, some have shown none. The problem is these are correlative studies. To find any real effect, you would have to follow a group of students through a number of years, including before and after they started using pot, and do a comparison with their non-using peers. No body’s taken that one on yet. Plus, my guess from being a teacher in college is that student’s party HABITS are probably more of an influence on grades than their choice of what to party with.

  • ET

    Don’t forget that Mary Lou Dickerson D-rep is going to file a bill this month to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for 2011

  • Flutie

    Vicky Vampire:

    yes! I bought that book (the cannabis closet). A great read and way worth the investment. Although – to be candid – not what I expected. I was expecting a more 2 dimensional endorsement of marijuana use, but what I found was far more complex – many narratives were quite negative about their marijuana experience. People’s stories about pot reflect the full range of human experience – but one truth remains constant even amidst the sadness of drug abuse; with almost no exception, everyone’s life is touched negatively by prohibition and would be helped by its demise. Like a good documentary – the story of people’s lives is much more powerful than mere rhetoric.

  • LTR

    I have to continue to question the timing. Why not wait and do it in 2012 when voter turnout could be higher? Didn’t anyone learn anything from prop 19 in California? Besides the wording of the initiative, the other issue was the voter turn out which happens to be much more favorable during a presidential election. Is there data that supports having an initiative like this in between Congressional/Presidential elections? If you win, it will be nice, but aren’t you much less likely to win by having the vote in 2011? This is about strategy, not about the goal.

    Sure if you win, fewer resources in 2012 have to go to Washington. But a single victory would be groundbreaking. I don’t understand why activists want to take a risk of another loss. You don’t want to start to accumulate a list of losses. You want to start strong.

    And the issue can wait till 2012. It’s 12 months, it’s more likely to pass, and there is less chance of backfire. I will of course hope it wins, but I’m really uncertain as to why the push 12 months early. Someone could maybe explain it to me?

  • Windy

    ET, I totally oppose and WA voters should reject any “regulation” of cannabis, and all taxation of Medical cannabis. Regulation allows the lawmakers to make it impossible to implement a legalization law by making the restrictions on where and how and when it can be grown/sold/used so onerous people just give up.

    When a legislator puts forward a bill like this before a initiative signature drive (or an election) it is intended to derail the initiative process and therefore the intent of the initiative. Just look at Cali for how that bill out of the legislature worked out for their Prop19.

    • Irie.ites

      Yes, Windy, exactly. We don’t need no stinkin’ “regulation”. Get your cannabis in a cellowrap pack like Marlboros? All full ‘o GMOs, FDA-approved, radiated, sterilized, itemized, tallied-taxed-totaled, tracked, prescribed? No need for all that nonsense. Us chilluns is all growed up now, can grow our own food & medicine, git outta the way.

      “Herb? It’s a plant. A tree that grow. When you use Herb, you meditate and become someone. Alcohol just make ya drunk. But Herb make ya meditate. Yeah mon.” ~ Bob Marley

  • Bill

    Windy, if enough people keep rejecting any regulation or taxation of cannabis, guess what? It will remain illegal, and my friend, a prohibition is kind of a regulation. The worst kind. And, the cannabis industry is taxed in a way, with asset forfeitures, seizures of product, etc. My gosh, in a legal regulated environment, like we have for all other agricultural products and for alcohol and tobacco, pot could be so cheap. Who cares if the tax rate is 300% if the underlying price is a tenth of what it is now? The cost to consumers would be way less than it is today under that scenario and they’d be able to go into a nice clean shop and select from a wide variety of quality product.

    Once it is really legalized, the entire industry from production on down to sales to consumers, the removal of all the added expenses of producing and storing and transporting and distributing and retail sales of an illegal product will be gone, large scale growing with modern agricultural methods along with fierce competition will drive wholesale prices of marijuana through the floor. The government would have to tax the crap out of it to keep prices anywhere close to where they are today. So what? Even with super high taxes the average consumer will have more choices and pay less for a product produced in a regulated environment so he’ll know organized crime didn’t produce it and awful toxic chemicals weren’t used to produce it, etc.

    If you’re making piles of money growing pot in your basement and selling it, I can understand opposing taxation and regulation. You’d be out a lot of money and might have to get a real job. Fortunately, there would be plenty of those in the legal marijuana industry. If you are just a consumer and you oppose regulation and taxation, you’re just a moron. It will never be legal without regulation and taxation. That’s it. That’s the bottom line.

    And you know what else? There is not going to be a legalization initiative in any state that makes everyone who wants marijuana legalized happy. In fact, for one to pass the regulations and taxes will likely have to be excessive, or at least seemingly so. But it doesn’t really matter. Once it’s legalized in one state other states will follow suit, and probably neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada, will follow suit, as well as some other countries around the world. Eventually the feds will capitulate and they’ll allow for regulation of cannabis, and whatever laws we start with will end up being changed and tweaked anyway. It doesn’t matter really how perfect or imperfect the first laws legalizing marijuana are because they’ll end up being changed anyway. We just have to get it done.

    Most of the fight against Prop 19 in California by marijuana friendly people was buy growers and medical providers who were afraid they’d lose money. They have a good thing going, easy money for producing and selling a ridiculously overpriced product, and they don’t want legalization screwing that up for them. Things are going to change in a legal environment. Businesses will have to adapt, but they can do that. Humboldt County producers worry that the price will drop and they won’t make a living anymore. The smart ones will make a living though. They’ll get together and produce on a much larger scale and produce high quality product that they market as something special, like boutique wine producers in Napa Valley. They’ll capitalize on the Humboldt County connection.

    People, don’t worry about taxes and regulation. Don’t worry about evil corporations getting in the game either. All of that will happen, but so what? Mexican schwag that so much of America smokes will be replaced by much better quality commercial grade pot, the Bud Light of pot. But just like we still see quality craft beers, fine wines and whiskeys produced on a smaller scale, we’ll still have some really special marijuana available too. The consumer will have far more choices than he has today, and prices, even after high taxes, will in the long run probably be a good bit lower than what you’re paying today.

    If there is a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot in your state, vote for the damned thing. Don’t worry about the wording of the measure so much. Don’t worry about restrictions or taxes you don’t agree with. Some legalization is better than no legalization and whatever we start with will end up being tweaked and changed later. That’s just a given. But we won’t ever legalize it, unless we legalize it. That’s a given too.

  • kaptinemo

    What Bill said (BUMP!).

  • DdC

    I agree with most of it, especially since we’re not living in Utopia. I don’t believe you can legally tax vegetables, but then you can’t Constitutionally outlaw them either. Speaking of which is why I voted for P-19. What is the worst that can happen if it passed? Tax and Regulate us back to buying from growers? I’ve never used the buyers clubs for that reason. I can get better or as good,cheaper. But for the conservatives and seniors without connections I think they provide a public service. If we lived in a Democracy I’d probably feel no regulation is kosher since no public dangers are involved outside of prohibition. But alas it fascism lite, sugar coated for your viewing pleasure. I think we’ve been down so god damned long it all looks like up to me….

  • Bill

    DdC, vegetables are taxed, unless you are growing them for personal consumption. If they’re sold at the store, you pay sales taxes on them.

    Personally, I think that if marijuana was legalized most people would buy it at the store. Look at California. Look at what a huge business medical marijuana has become. They sell super pricey pot to people with medical marijuana cards who could legally grow they’re. If so many people will pay $15 or $20 a gram or more when they could grow it at home without fear of arrest for a tiny fraction of that, then even more would buy it from the store if it was cheaper. That’s where the tax money comes in.

    Marijuana sells for hundreds to thousands of dollars a pound wholesale, depending on what people buy and where they buy it. Tobacco wholesales for somewhere around $3 a pound in large bulk purchases and still far less than a hundred a pound in smaller transactions, before taxes and often even after taxes if you’re paying less than $50 a carton. Pot is harder to produce than tobacco. It has to be picked at just the right time, dried and cured just right. The buds need to be trimmed. But still, the only reason it costs thousands a pound or even hundreds a pound is that it’s illegal.

    I would not be surprised to see the wholesale price in large bulk purchases of mass produced commercial grade marijuana to drop below $10 a pound in a legal environment. If it was more than $50 a pound after a few years in a legal environment when the kinks are worked out in a legal industry I would be very surprised. It can be purchased for that much or less in Mexico now in large bulk transactions and Mexicans can’t even grow corn as cheap as us even without subsidies because we have such an efficient agricultural in industry in the U.S. Really fancy stuff grown on a much smaller scale would cost more, but still not thousands a pound. In a legal environment marijuana will cost a fraction of what it costs today wholesale and the only way the actual cost to consumers will be anywhere close to where it is today is if there are super high taxes and excises on marijuana, which we will see.

    There will be an effort to keep prices high with taxes and excises so that use doesn’t go way up, just like we see with cigarettes. And of course there will be an effort to generate as much tax revenue as possible from marijuana sales. This really isn’t such a big deal though as long as they don’t tax it so much that it costs consumers more than it does today. Then the black market would still be huge and almost as much a problem as it is today. The trick will be keeping after tax prices fairly high but not so high that it encourages a big black market. That shouldn’t be so hard to do because clandestine producers can’t come anywhere close to competing on production costs with large scale legal producers, and people are going to want to buy legal product from a nice clean store where they have lots of choices and packages with labels probably listing things like potency and whatever additives there may be, guarantees that a product is produced organically if people wish to pay a premium for that, guarantees that highly toxic pesticides/fungicides/mold inhibitors and so on weren’t used, etc. Most people would rather purchase their product through legal channels rather than from the street where it may be coming from scary organized crime types up the line. Black market product would have to sell at a substantial discount for anyone to want to buy it and unless we go too crazy with taxes there just won’t be enough potential profits in black market pot for it to be much of a problem.

    Pot will be taxed. The taxes will be high. That will be a compromise that has to be made to get it legalized. Wholesale costs will drop through the floor, especially after a few years when competition forces the industry to become very efficient. There will be a lot of room for taxes, ridiculously high taxes even, before the prices you pay will be as high as what you pay today.

    Regulation is a fact of life too. We regulate everything. We regulate production and sales of vegetables, and it’s actually not such a bad thing that we have regulations on food products because these regulations save lives and keep a lot of people from getting sick. We regulate the heck out of intoxicants too. We regulate alcohol and tobacco, both to have “safer” products and keep minors from using them, minimize harms to society, etc. Of course we’re going to have similar regulations on marijuana. It’s really not that big of a deal and some of these regulations will actually do some good, maybe. Regardless, we’re going to have regulations whether we like it or not so we might as well get used to that idea.

  • DdC

    Oh Bill… tsk tsk tsk

    The trick will be keeping after tax prices fairly high but not so high that it encourages a big black market.

    Thats the kicker and why I buy the same pot from growers. I do like the Ganja candy they sell, but not the cost. Also this only works on a Federal level. If states can still prohibit growing then they become the target. If a grower can export $300 an ounce or sell it legally for $50 I don’t think overly principled growers are abundant. Sure I would prefer going to the store and paying a reasonable price for a quality assured product. Even if it was taxed. But so far since 1996 I haven’t seen it very much. Buyers clubs are still more pricey even with less risk most of the time. Street prices have dropped some and attitudes aren’t as hostile as when I was getting patients pot in the early 90’s. But its not yet in a legitimate status by any means. Just taxing Cali Ganja will leave conservatives and seniors without connections a resource, at top dollar. Maybe deterring exporting. But not giving options to those of us with connections. As long as the Feds are involved, risk is involved and therefore higher prices. Most of the individual busts are statewide so until the abolition of the Nixon lie CSA including cannabis, the states with initiatives will be safer. Not necessarily cheaper or taxed. But a huge stigma removed if state enforcement follows state law and not have renegades like San DEAgo.

    DdC, vegetables are taxed, unless you are growing them for personal consumption. If they’re sold at the store, you pay sales taxes on them.

    They have to be humanized to tax it, nothing of nature. Not even canned goods, if they’re staples. Maybe you should reference things from now on. I’m looking at a grocery bill dude, No taxes except on hot items and non food items. Even tobacco isn’t taxed on the farmers. Or does tobacco do the harm. Only after they turn it into cigarettes, packaged and plummeted with chemical poisons is it taxable. That would suck if they adulterated Ganja just to get tax. Nothing processed in restaurants or fast fuds qualifies for exemption. Staples aren’t taxed, nor should Ganja or Hemp be. At least on the farmers. Personal use would qualify as an exemption also. If it was sold in stores then the only taxes would be income from the employees, not sales tax. But like I said, since when have corporate governments ever worried about rules? I’m sure it can be lobbied as a sin tax even though its not an intoxicant or man made like booze. Just reality, and like I also said… as long as the potency and price is equivalent to the more expensive buyers clubs I’ll stick with the streets.

    Putting it into plastic baggies and weighed etc might be enough to get a sin tax? Not canned beans or flax seeds but hey its cannabis. Just forget the rules, its Ganja and they have a way of legislating around reality. Meat isn’t taxed and I’d wager its more unhealthy than Ganja. Yet its only pseudo regulated if at all, just check out a factory farm. Ganja is much safer. No meat regulations once you buy it, not for kids.. Yet it can kill kids if they touch it and put their fingers into their mouths. So NO regulations is best. If you don’t want your kid toking. Supervise them better. Truth will end the Ganjawar and that act getting to Congress is like smuggling bibles into China dressed like a nun. Until then, like prop 215. Its cover for those getting shot at. Here’s a few examples.

    No tax on meat, yet. The Meat Tax
    “sin tax” to ones already “placed on tobacco, alcohol, and gasoline for their costly effect on the environment and public health,”

    SALES AND USE TAX REGULATIONS

    (a) IN GENERAL. Tax does not apply to sales of food products for human consumption except as provided in Regulations 1503, 1574, and 1603. (Grocers, in particular, should note that tax applies to sales of “hot prepared food products” as provided in Regulation 1603(e).)

    Goods exempted from General Sales Tax
    Automatic wheeled chairs, its spare parts and its separate components, and other artificial human organs listening system for the deaf, and other system equipments or limbs worne or borne or transplanted in human body to compensate for any mayhem or deformation or unfitness or handicapping Exempt

    Proposed Fruit and Vegetable Tax Threatens Healthy Food Culture, Say Critics
    Yes, We Do Have Bananas! Israelis have traditionally eaten large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, but critics say that a proposed tax, designed to close a budget gap, could cause consumers to cut back, particularly among the poor.

  • Bill

    Food may not be taxed in California, but it is most everywhere else. In my state we have state and local sales taxes, and they apply to food you buy at the grocery store as well. The sales tax here is nearly 10% and you’ll see sales taxes on food in most states.

    Sales taxes on pot shouldn’t start out really high, especially when just one state legalizes. If California legalizes pot, really not much will change. It will be like medical marijuana without the medical marijuana card. Production will still be rather small scale like it is now because people will still have to worry about federal prosecution. Really, not much changes, and it won’t be the ideal circumstances for eliminating or mostly eliminating the black market. What I was talking about in my post above was the scenario where the feds allow for legalization, where it’s a legal industry like any other, where you don’t have commercial growers trying to stay below a hundred plants or anything crazy like that. Commercial growers will be growing thousands and thousands of plants or more across many acres, kind of like corn fields. The big marijuana grows today are tiny compared to what we see with other crops like corn or soybeans or tobacco, and so on. It’s large scale growing out in the open or in row after row after row of greenhouses that will bring production costs of marijuana way, that and of course the removal of all the risks involved in producing and distributing an illegal product.

    Mexican marijuana i dirt cheap in Mexico. They smuggle it across the border in various different ways, but there is always considerable expense involved. A truck driver might have a couple of tons stashed in his load and he might get $40,00 or $50,000 just to drive across the border with it. It’s a big risk. Most loads get through, but some get popped and the driver often goes to prison. Then they’ll pay to get that weed to a stash house. They’ll pay people to guard it. They’ll pay people to transport it across the country, often in trunks of cars two or three hundred pounds at a time, and the driver will make several thousand bucks to transport that load. Most loads will get through, but some will get popped. Our government seizes well over 2,000 tons of marijuana every year. They seize several tons on the highway going through in my town every year. I know, because I have handled several thousand pounds worth of marijuana cases as an attorney, and most of that weight was in these drug mule cases.

    That pot may cost $50 a pound in Mexico, but it’s $600 for a single pound by the time it reaches my town and there isn’t a huge profit margin in it because of all the expenses involved in getting it here. They make their money doing a huge volume business. That pot will double in price probably by the time it makes it to the East Coast, but it will have cost a lot more to get it there and the farther a load has to go the greater the chance that it gets popped. The farther it has to go, the more of their product they’ll lose.

    What if it was like any other agricultural crop though, grown in huge fields like corn fields, with as much mechanization as possible and relatively cheap labor costs because they wouldn’t have to pay the premium they have to pay people to risk producing an illegal product? It would go from the farm to a distributor and then be shipped to retailers, and not in trunk loads of a couple of hundred pounds for several thousand a load, but in big trucks like the Budweiser trucks you see carrying twenty or thirty tons or how ever much those trucks can carry. It would go straight from the distributor to the retailer, changing hands far fewer times than it does now before it reaches the end consumer. Profit margins would be much lower than they are even for Mexican brick, but profits would still be high because it would be a high volume business for those in it.

    Marijuana will be legalized and will eventually look like and work the same as other legal industries, like agricultural industries and the alcohol industry. At first though, when just one state legalizes, it will be more like medical marijuana without the medical marijuana cards. If the feds crack down, as they might do when we don’t have a president like Obama, at least it will be legal to possess it under state law in states that legalize it, and hopefully it will be legal to grow a little. Under that scenario the black market would still be going strong, and we’d still see a pretty big black market if it runs just like medical marijuana dispensaries and coops today and gets hit with high taxes because those guys with their small scale production and the risks they take with their businesses still being illegal under federal law just can’t really produce a cheap product like we’d see in an environment where production and sales were legal under federal law too.

    Would a hundred bucks an ounce tax as was proposed in Prop 19 be too much? I don’t know. It depends on what the feds let people get away with. Really high taxes will not be possible until we have truly legal production and distribution driving prices way down.

    Whatever we start with will change though, and if one state legalizes others will follow suit and the feds will eventually have to give in. real legalization is coming. It’s only a matter time. That time will be shortened considerably once we get it legalized in a state. That would really get the debate going.

  • ET

    Look I understand what all of you are trying to debate. Yes I agree cannabis and hemp should be taxed and regulated. It cannot be taxed so high though to cause a black market of growers in which we already have. But I guess as long as it is legal people will pay a moderate price. We have to get it there before we can debate it. So lets try to work together to get it legalized to keep it out of the black market and out of real criminals and evil doers whom sell it to 6th graders.