Medical Marijuana “Tax” in Oregon?


According to Raw Story, Oregon, which allows possession of medical marijuana, is considering government production of cannabis, along with a tax associated with its sale.

“In Oregon however, a state which already allows medical marijuana, socializing the weed is being pitched as a bipartisan cause célèbre.

Maybe socializing is the wrong word.

House Bill 3247 would direct the state to establish and operate a marijuana production facility,” reported Oregon’s KGW-TV. “The state would control potency and pharmacy distribution.”

Okay, so maybe it isn’t.

If the legislation, which is currently in committee review, becomes law, the state would take control of Oregon’s booming cannabis industry, bringing growing and sales under the public domain.”

As much as I’d like to say that I’m encouraged by this development, I’m not.  I think that pot should be legal, to be sure and medicinal marijuana should lead the pack in states that now prohibit it.  What bothers me about this is its price.

2190463-marijuana_plantations_almaty_kazakhstan-almatyPot is a freaking WEED.  Given the right conditions, high-quality pot can grow with little to no supervision.  As a cash crop, it can be improved, hybridized, certainly branded like any other competitively marketed product and sold at a price set by market demand.  But the current market price is artificially high.  Did I mention it’s a WEED?  It’s so expensive because it’s illegal.  Legalizing pot should lower its price.  After all, It’s a freaking WEED.  Growing pot isn’t like raising roses or orchids.  If we don’t kill the plants, they will grow.  While potent hybrids may require more maintenance and hence greater investment, decent “home grown” is a relatively “low impact” crop. I suppose this may be due to its status in the flora and fauna world as a WEED.

In the seventies, decent “garden variety” home grown or Mexican pot went for as low as $10-15 an ounce in the Midwest.  Pot was just as illegal then and those laboring in the supply chain flourished selling it at that price.  Double or triple that for the change in the dollar. Without palms to grease, perps to spring, weapons and other “black market” costs, one would think that pot would be much cheaper.

And as soon as we legalize it, black market crooks will supply “super pot” laced with opium or some other exotic intoxicant.  There will always be a black market. People still make moonshine but our prisons aren’t bursting with “shiners.” Heroin and cocaine have a much narrower potential demand due to their extremely addictive properties. Recreational use of either is nearly impossible.  They’re “life-style” drugs and the life-style they promote, while initially seductive to some, doesn’t take long to sour.

I’m not saying they’re innocent and should be taken lightly. I don’t feel they even belong in an essay on marijuana, because they’re completely different from pot.  I do believe that decriminalizing marijuana would significantly blunt much of its trafficking, associated violence, law enforcement, legal and corrections expense…a huge problem in border regions.

Cartels and traffickers would quickly switch to the hard stuff, whose demand, by virtue of their negatives, is more self-limiting than pot’s.  But addiction is addiction.  There will always be users, as there will always be crooks willing to take risks for easy, quick, huge rewards.  The “war on drugs” was a red herring from its misguided inception, a political calculation run amok.  It’s simply absurd.  We could see more positive results if we waged war on cockroaches.  Of course, we’d lose that one, too…we may be able to keep them out of our houses but not the house next door or down the street. And if people get murdered over cockroaches, we’ve jumped the shark as a civilization, so all bets are off.

New legitimate “super pot” hybrids, grown by major marketers with hydroponic technology is way more expensive to produce.  So is hashish, due to its increased finishing costs.  This is analogous to single malt scotch or top-shelf, 100-proof bourbon.  But for every Glenfiddich or Glenlivet there should be several Johnny Walkers, Dewar’s, Knob Hills and Maker’s Marks.

A $98 per ounce TAX on medical marijuana based on current prices, held artificially high because the brunt of supply is still illegal and demands a premium primarily for that reason is, well, “criminal”.  If government gets involved in growing it, the price should drop…by a bunch.

Perhaps medical marijuana should be developed to a standard that requires technology that may justify such a hefty price. Maybe medical research will reveal a THC delivery system superior to smoking or ingesting marijuana.

If pot’s legal, one approach could be that it’s grown and marketed like tobacco or liquor.  Since it’s not (in most adults) is far less potentially addictive and one must smoke an impractical amount in order to suffer health risks remotely comparable to tobacco use, pot’s safer than either.

Decriminalization takes the risk and hence, some of the market-related costs out of the “pipeline.”  I’d love to grow it along side my house.  I have a space that could easily accommodate 75-100 mature plants. It gets great sun, the soil’s perfect.  Pot would actually look terrific there…aesthetically, I mean.  I could plant a few sunflowers on both ends and a row of peonies in front…much more pleasant than the thorny hedge my neighbors now survey.

If we can’t grow our own, farmers, processors, transport companies, ad agencies, package suppliers, marketers and stockholders can certainly get rich as Americans kich back with a bowl or two.  Prison populations would shrink, as would court congestion and our government can even tax it .  Marijuana is a comparatively benign substance that our government has demonized for decades.  Let the propaganda stop, sanity prevail and capitalism triumph.  But as we do so, let’s also make pot affordable.  $98 an ounce TAX?  Maybe HMOs will pay it but the black market will never dry up as long as profiteers, government or otherwise, impose such economic roadblocks to pot’s accessibility.

After all, it’s just a weed.  It’s also great in zuchini bread. For all we know, it may be a decent source of fiber.  Let’s find out.School of Pot

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