The Greening in the West

In an Associated Press-CNBC poll, released in April 2010, only 33 percent of those questioned favored legalization of marijuana while 55 percent opposed it. People under 30 were the only age group favoring legalization, with 54 percent and opposition increased with age, topping out at 73 percent of those 65 and older.

Opposition was also greater among women and those in rural and suburban areas, 60 percent supported the idea and 74 percent believed the drug had a real medical benefit for some people. Two-thirds of Democrats favored medical marijuana as do a slim majority of Republicans, 53 percent.

What a difference four-years can make.

Nearly two years after voter’s legalized recreational pot for adults over 21, Washington State’s first licensed cannabis shops opened for business. The pot being sold at four stores in Seattle, Bellingham, Prosser and Spokane was regulated, tested for impurities, heavily taxed and in short supply.

Washington is the second state to allow marijuana sales without a doctor’s note. The state’s Liquor Control Board began working right away to develop rules governing just about every aspect of the industry, from what fertilizers can be used to how extracts are produced.

But the board has been overwhelmed — nearly 7,000 people applied to grow, process or sell pot, and those licenses are being reviewed by the board’s 18 investigators. Fewer than 100 growers have been approved, and only a dozen were ready to harvest in time for the market’s launch.

Much of the marijuana being sold Tuesday cost at least twice the $10 to $12 per gram offered by the state’s unregulated medical dispensaries.

And long before opening, the stores had to survive an in-state lottery for the 300 retail licenses being issued. Then they had to buy product from growers.

Meanwhile, the slow roll-out is limiting the state’s tax receipts. Washington says it may take in $586 million over the next four years, which is just a fraction of the $1.9 billion state officials estimated before the vote.

Colorado now has 206 stores licensed by the state for recreational sales. It has another 493 stores licensed for medical-marijuana sales.

The Colorado State Highway Patrol has started to keep track of marijuana-specific DUI citations. Month to month, pot-DUI’s make up about 10-to-15 percent of all citations with over 350 people cited in Denver alone this year.

The state has also collected more than $11 million in marijuana taxes.

And speaking of Colorado, while enjoying a night out in Denver on Tuesday with Colorado Governor John Hinkenlooper, President Barack Obama was approached by a man who asked him if he wanted to smoke some of marijuana.

“You want to hit this?” Matt Ashton asked while Obama was making his way through the crowd at a Denver bar. The president laughed, and while he didn’t say no, he didn’t indulge.

Meanwhile medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley, California could soon be required to give away some of their stash — to the poor. The city council approved the ordinance Monday.

The requirement is buried in a 20-page ordinance to amend the Berkeley Municipal Code. A new chapter in the code includes the section “Medical Cannabis for Low-Income Members,” requiring the town’s four medical marijuana dispensaries to provide “at least 2 percent (by weight) of the annual amount of Medical Cannabis” they sell to “very low-income Members who are Berkeley residents,” at no cost.

“Very low-income” is defined by the city council as less than $32,000 per year for an individual and less than $46,000 for a family of four. Not only that, it has to be the same high-quality marijuana given to regular paying customers.

The city council will also consider an ordinance to ban e-cigarette use in public spaces, despite the fact that e-cigarettes are a highly successful smoking cessation tool.

The story isn’t that poor people are getting their pot on the cheap – it’s about a government body telling a private business to give away what they sell for nothing.

This is what tyranny looks like.


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