Washington State Office of Financial Management has finally released
its much anticipated report on the marijuana "legalization" initiative,
I-502. (See link to the report at the end of this article)
it claims that the state could see a financial windfall in the billions
from the taxation and regulation of cannabis, it also warns of some
very serious consequences and the possibility of zero revenue.
and the other activists that joined the lawsuit demanding a new report
that included all the risks, including possible results from federal
That report came out on Friday, August 10.
When I asked him about it, he responded with the following:
will either bring in $0 or $2,000,000,000. Do you really need a degree
to come up with numbers like this or just Vanna White spinning a big
wheel with random numbers on it?"
report is more embarassing than the last," Sarich said. "The revenue
assumptions are based on the state stores owning 100 percent of the
market for marijuana in Washington. This would never happen regardless
of any of the state regulations, pricing, or criminal penalties."
York is losing millions of dollars in tax money on cigarettes because
of the black market that's developed there because the state raised the
tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1," Sarich said. "What have we NOT
learned about the relationship between over-taxation and the development
of black markets?
"Is the OFM totally
unfamiliar with this basic economic principle?" Sarich asked. "Why would
they ever assume that the state stores would control 100 percent of the
market? Boeing doesn't own 100 percent of the airplane market here in
It's hard to argue with his logic.
reading over 502's language and this report, I do not like it. 502
threatens patients by subjecting us to DUID charges that have no defense
in court based on a 5-nanogram limit in the blood.
all know regular cannabis smokers and patients, especially the ones
that use the concentrated oils, will test well over that because of
their tolerance levels, yet will show no signs of impairment while
I-502 also threatens to close down our medical collective gardens section under RCW 59.61a of state law.
weakest and most ill among us in the medical community are most at risk
because of their dependence on the collective gardening
They are too ill to grow their own and don't need the added burden of being raided or robbed, like I was.
replaced the dispensary
model in 2011 because of Governor
Christine Gregoire's veto of the tax and regulate sections in a medical
medical marijuana bill signed into law.
not all collectives have acted like most dispensaries
. Some cities have
allowed for different interpretations and collect tax revenue.
Some have been collective gatherings that don't charge each other money.
follow state and local laws and both styles have given cannabis free to
an increasingly large number of patients too sick and poor to pay for
That practice will likely end under a TAX/REGULATE system and will have to come though unlicensed and unregulated gardens.
Sponsors and other supporters claims 502 to be legalization, but careful reading of it shows it is decriminalization. The OFM report agrees with this point.
I-502 will not help you on possession charges if you have black market cannabis.
Currently in Washington State, the age group that is arrested for possession more than any other is 15-19 year olds.
does not protect this age group from the harm of arrest and
incarceration. It actually makes it harder on them by prioritizing the
law against them, including zero tolerance for DUIDs.
fiscal impact report states quite correctly that the enforcement
sections will come into effect way before the TAX/REGULATE parts, which
is years off, if ever.
TAX/REGULATE sections of 502 have a good chance of being challenged and
thrown out, but the enforcement side stays in effect.
tax/regulate scheme will not work at eliminating black market sales
because the prices relied on to give you these numbers are based on a
$12 per gram average price to the end consumer.
black market can produce it cheaper and at a higher quality than what
would likely come from a state run system where the grower only makes $3
At the price, the grower will be
forced to grow outdoors to keep costs where he might make a profit.
That's after $1200 for licesning fees the first year, $1000 per year
thereafter, plus random product testing fees, garden/farm equipment
costs, payroll AND a 25 percent tax on the sale to the processor.
Oh yeah, plus the courts just ruled that cannabis growers can't deduct expenses on their taxes.
the OFM report, the state makes a clear waning that the feds might
allow the TAX/REGULATE scheme to go through in order to let people
self-incriminate because getting a license to grow, process or sell can
be used as evidence against you in federal court.
if you don't end up with Federal charges against you, chances are good
you'll end up in a situation like the local Wenatchee clubs last month
and most famously, Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA where they go
after assets and buildings.
stating these opinions on public forums has resulted in people stating
that I am not in favor of legalization. They could not be further from
the truth. If every person had the right to grow their own plants, then
cops and robbers won't give a damn about mine.
502 had solid patient protections, left out the per se "zero tolerance"
DUID section and harder penalties on our young adults and allowed for
personal grows, I would be voting yes.
legalization will require removing/rescheduling it from the state
controlled substances list and let people grow their own for all uses of
the cannabis plant, not just medical and recreational. Industrial hemp
production needs to begin yesterday!
not address either of these key issues on the cannabis plant. The
federal changes will come, but that does not prevent it from happening
in our state first.
For those that say, "Yeah, but this legalizes now, we'll work the problems later..."
Well, we passed medical cannabis laws in 1998 in our state and we still don't have arrest protection for patients 14 years later, in 2012.
governor vetoed the TAX/REGULATE sections of the last medical cannabis
law because of federal laws. Both candidates for governor will not
support 502 for the very same reasons.
think the sponsors of 502 are cannabis user friendly, then I ask you to
take a look at these words from one of the key spokespersons, John
McKay, former United States attorney in Seattle...
should give serious consideration to heavy regulation and taxation of
the marijuana industry (an industry that is very real and dangerously
underground). We should limit pot's content of the active ingredient THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol), regulate its sale to adults who are dumb enough
to want it and maintain criminal penalties for sales, possession or use
by minors, drivers and boaters.
law-enforcement colleagues know well from chasing bootleggers and
mobsters, this new regulatory and criminal approach will still require
many years of intensive investigation and enforcement before organized
criminal elements are driven from the vast marijuana market. DEA and its
law-enforcement partners must therefore remain well equipped and
staffed to accomplish this task: to protect our families from truly
dangerous drugs and to drive drug cartels, gangs and dope dealers from
I was at a meeting where Alison Holcomb, the initiative's main author,
told a group in Seattle that it will not be legal to share your
Not even passing a joint around with
friends out of your one "legal" ounce is allowed under 502. You could
still have your door busted down and your dog shot in a botched raid
caused by nosey neighbors who smell pot and calls the cops. A husband
and wife can still have their kids taken away and could still face
charges of collective possession of having two ounces in the house.
all a matter of legal interpretation and the courts will figure it all
out in the end when innocent people are dragged into it. If you are rich
enough to afford the best lawyers, you might be able to come out with a
win and set a good precedent that protects all Washington citizens from
unjust cannabis laws. Maybe you will have a jury that understands the concept of "jury nullification".
Does that sound like less enforcement?
Does that sound like legalization to you?
Read the initiative and the OFM report and tell me what you think.
No matter which way you stand on this issue, please check out and sign the Cannabis Child Protection Act of 2012
designed to protect children from the effects of the cannabis economy
and get marijuana OUT of our schools! It's a much safer plan that will
eliminate most of the federal threats and other negative aspects of 502
if passed, but it will need your signature before November!