September 26, 2013

"Buying marijuana in Denver is a downright pleasant experience."

"Customers wait in a well-appointed waiting room.... When their names are called, they will follow an attendant through an atrium where they can buy t-shirts or smoking paraphernalia, and into a quaint shop where they can peruse the wares."
There, they will find a wide array of aromatic marijuana flowers in glass jars, pot-infused products — mints, beverages, or something to satisfy the sweet tooth — as well as pre-rolled joints and servings of cannabis concentrates.

Customers are rung up on a computerized point of sale system. They get a receipt — a receipt! — after paying for their marijuana. They are free to walk out to their cars, drive their marijuana home, and smoke it.

It's a remarkably clean system. It doesn't feel like a violation of Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, the federal law that governs controlled substances, even though it is. It's a safe, stable, professional environment.
How incredibly strange! Would you feel free to violate federal criminal law like that? I note the line "when their names are called." You have to give your name? Would you give a fake name? We're in a transitional phase, and it can't go on like this. Can it?

I think it's unfair, but that's me, a scrupulous law-abider. I don't like this gray zone, where something is open as if it's legal, but the feds maintain the power to crush you whenever they want. The risk-takers get their drugs, and those of us who scrupulously limit ourselves to legal substances look on and wonder.

38 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

Sure, some may feel a bit of stress or tension, but they know that the state and local police aren't going to bust them, and the feds are not all that likely. And, of course, pot is a relaxant.

I guess, some enjoy the excitement of doing something a little bit illegal, but I suspect that wears off fairly quickly.

Finally, I will admit to a small bit of blame here, having voted for this law, despite having no intention of ever availing myself of it. I think that, esp. with medical marijuana having been around for awhile, and prescriptions for it having been fairly easy to acquire, that not a lot of new people are going to start toking up, even if it is mostly legal today in two states. (And, deep down, I am fairly libertarian, and think that the War on Drugs as it involves pot has possibly caused more harm than good, given how it has ended up militarizing the police, etc).

Oso Negro said...

Caring about complying with Federal Regulations is terribly old-fashioned. You need to care about complying with the regs that the current regime cares about enforcing. Illegal immigrant? No worries. Smoker of the deadly El Ropo? No worries. User of imported rosewood in making guitars? Watch your fucking back. Now the truth will become apparent by and by, that both sides can play such a game.

eddie willers said...

"Have an A-1 day"

Ann Althouse said...

Am I allowed to travel to Colorado and smoke marijuana? Sorry, I simply don't believe it.

I don't think that's fair.

ironrailsironweights said...

Bring cash, as you can't pay for pot with credit or debit cards.

Peter

SGT Ted said...

The clinics here in Northern CA are more like an old timey General Store where they weight it out for you on the counter.

dustbunny said...

Dylan said "to Iive outside the law, you must be honest".

Matt said...

I'm going to go with the fantastic phrase from the Cafe Hayek Blog (run by GMU professor Boudreaux).

This is not illegal, it is "unlegislationful".

As he put it: Readers will note my attempt to coin here a most inelegant term, namely, “unlegislationful.” It’s my response to “unlawful.” Murder is unlawful. Theft is unlawful. Rape is unlawful. But as careful readers of this blog know, I refuse to glorify mere legislation with the name “law.” (It’s an idiosyncrasy, I admit – but it’s my idiosyncrasy, so I’m sticking with it.) So violating a mere piece of legislation – committing an act made “wrong” merely because a legislature or bureaucrat or dictator declared such an act to be wrong – is not, in my view, helpfully called “unlawful.”

http://cafehayek.com/2013/09/quotation-of-the-day-760.html

Left Bank of the Charles said...

If memory serves, you travelled to Colorado and availed yourself of its marriage laws. Was that also unfair?

Is the unfairness you see here in the Colorado law, the federal law, or the Wisconsin law?

Ann Althouse said...

"If memory serves, you travelled to Colorado and availed yourself of its marriage laws. Was that also unfair? Is the unfairness you see here in the Colorado law, the federal law, or the Wisconsin law?"

We weren't in violation of any law when we traveled to Colorado to take advantage of its libertarian laws.

Marijuana is a crime under federal law, and nothing Colorado does changes that.

Ann Althouse said...

"Bring cash, as you can't pay for pot with credit or debit cards."

Well, hell, if I were buying marijuana, which is a crime, I wouldn't create a record of it!

Of course, you pay cash.

But that underscores the fact that it is a crime.

Ann Althouse said...

@Matt

That inventiveness is silly.

There are ancient Latin terms that denote that distinction. Google malum in se and malum prohibitum.

LYNNDH said...

Just got my ballot info for this Nov election. On the ballot is a proposal to tax marijuana at 15% at point of sale. Sounds good to me.

Almost Ali said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't marijuana incredibly easy to grow?

Clayton Hennesey said...

Oso Negro has it right, and let's remember that as long as federal anti-pot laws are on the books the same preemption that sanctions sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants can bust Coloradans whenever it chooses.

Assuming of course that Obama doesn't reign forever and a subsequent administration decides it wants to play hardball with someone or ones using prosecutorial discretion, or indiscretion, for that matter.

Bruce Hayden said...

It is apparently legal to travel to CO under CO law to buy and smoke small quantities of pot. However, apparently you can only buy half as much bs residents can. There were Equal Protection and Privileges and Immunities questions about this disparate treatment, but the stated goal is to cut down on pot tourism and travelers taking it back home, and at least some think that should survive increased scrutiny.

Randy said...

The thing that is illegal here is the Federal law. The constitution gives the Feds no power to regulate something that is grown and consumed in Colorado. Yes I know the Supreme Court decided in an Alice in Wonderland decision that growing and consuming wheat on a single farm is interstate commerce but that doesn't make it any more so than if the Court decided the moon was made of green cheese. So while the Fed law is "legal" in the sense that the Supreme Court said it was it is still a nothing more than the taking via sophistry of powers which Feds were not granted by the constitution.

SOJO said...

Medical marijuana has been legal a long time in CA. They go back and forth on federal legality depending on how much money they need - and by they I mean the local law enforcement level who get to keep and auction proceeds. Or that is how it appears. I'm not an expert.

I would never doctor shop and get a Rx because I resented having to fudge as an adult and also I was never that terribly into weed. However, I did appreciate that the dispensary was like a weed Starbucks with marketed brands and cookies, etc. That is/was all good.

Now that I can qualify full on, I don't know. I suppose I will get a script because I cannot freaking sleep on these steroids and its driving me nuts. Take a few days of sleep a week away and you'd do anything to. I also can no longer drink wine because I don't want to tax my liver more than it already is.

(Note: i have now googled and smoking weed is bad for your liver. Shit. Is there anything NOT bad for your liver that will allow me to sleep? Melatonin (lovely and works but not supposed to take it much as it counteracts steroids), Ambien (awful), Benedryl(yeech), Trazodone (meh) have all been shot down for one reason or another. Oh wait. More googling. Kaiser permanente did the study. It is fine if it is organic, legal, pure and doesn't hurt your liver. It is bad if it is illegal, coated in various stuff you can't trace. Okay, fine. I could find organic. Maybe this will get me down there.)



David said...

"It doesn't feel like a violation . . . "

Usually doesn't, until they come after you.

The Godfather said...

I don't see any reason why the federal government should have the power to criminalize the use of MJ in a state that permits it. That ought to be purely a matter of state police power; there's no legitimate federal interest.

Still, the way the article describes it is not appealing. If you want to smoke weed, you or a friend should have a contact who's a merchant seaman, and he's just in from Turkey, and somebody meets him on the waterfront, and brings the stuff back to somebody's pad, and you light the incense sticks and put Sergeant Pepper on the record player and somebody brings some munchies . . . . Where was I? Oh gosh, where did those days go?

Teej said...

LYNNDH said...

Just got my ballot info for this Nov election. On the ballot is a proposal to tax marijuana at 15% at point of sale. Sounds good to me.


I would have to disagree. I have no intent or desire to smoke pot. I voted for this because I wanted to end the jailing of otherwise law abiding folks who do smoke pot and to take the money away from the drug cartels. Understand that this tax is in addition to the regular sales tax (7.62% in Denver). By making the tax this high you are encouraging to continuance of the black market, which to my mind defeats the whole purpose of legalization. The incremental revenue from the normal sales tax should be more than sufficient to fund the needed regulatory structure. Here once again the politicians are just demonstrating their greed.

John said...

This is why you need to read Atlas Shrugged. I think you may have mentioned this earlier but here is the full quote:

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of lawbreakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

Floyd Ferris to Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged.

This is what the govts (fed, state, local) are doing with these "three felonies a day" that we are always committing without even realizing it.

They can come and arrest you any time you piss them off enough Ann. Or anyone else. We try to obey the law but it is not possible to be 100% in compliance.

Piss them off and they will find something to bust you on.

John Henry

SGT Ted said...

Am I allowed to travel to Colorado and smoke marijuana? Sorry, I simply don't believe it.

I don't think that's fair.


People in dry counties go to wet counties to buy booze. Seems fair.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

What Randy said.

The federal government does not, never did, and never can have an infinite supply of legitimacy. It all comes back to that pesky consent-of-the-governed thing, and I for one--though sad at the immediate loss of legitimacy, and worried somewhat about the immediate fallout, think that long-term this is all very much in our favor.

You want the Fed Gov to be able to ban intrastate trade in certain pharmaceuticals and the personal consumption of the same? Pass a F'n constitutional amendment, then!!!

jimbino said...

Seems the way the early Christians started. Sort of illegal, then they took over Rome, and now they're forcing their prayers on us.

Smilin' Jack said...

Would you feel free to violate federal criminal law like that?

Certainly not! Federal law (after vetting by our infallible Supreme Court, of course) is sacred. Just like you, I would have had Dred Scott shackled and sent back to his master tout suite! Damn those Frederick Douglass enablers!

That said, sounds like Denver still has a long way to go to catch up with Amsterdam. (But hey, maybe we could invade Holland and put all the Dutch in jail! Think how many prison jobs that would create! All in the name of justice, of course!)

averagejoe said...

AA, you seem a little tense, even using four letter expletives and exclamation points. You know, using Medical Marijuana alleviates stress and tension, I'm told...

Jeff said...

What Randy said. If the Constitution gives the federal government the power to outlaw pot, then why was the 18th Amendment necessary? Clearly, what changed between then and the 1970 enactment of the Controlled Substances Act was not the Constitution, but the Supreme Court's interpretation of it. If the Court can make changes this big to what is considered constitutional without any actual amendment, it is simply legislating from the bench.

Matthew Sablan said...

It can and it will; there are a variety of things that are illegal per the books, but people do everyday. For example, using bicycles like cars and then pretending to be a pedestrian to illegally cross. Inconsistent enforcement of laws allow the state power it should not have.

Think about things as blatant as tax law. Look at the various rich/powerful people who break those laws and regulations in ways the IRS would cream the poor/unfavorite people.

You think I'm exaggerating? Look at the Tea Party groups the IRS group stymied compared to, say, Corzine or Turbo Tax Tim Geinther.

LarsPorsena said...

Soma for our brave new world.

Rocketeer said...

That inventiveness is silly.

There are ancient Latin terms that denote that distinction. Google malum in se and malum prohibitum.


Have I ever metioned how I hate the word "foodie?" Why have gourmands insist on creating new, "cutesy" word where a perfectly good word already exists? It's infantile.

Peter said...

" Yes I know the Supreme Court decided in an Alice in Wonderland decision that growing and consuming wheat on a single farm is interstate commerce but that doesn't make it any more so than if the Court decided the moon was made of green cheese."

A court can say a child has three parents- the mother, the father, and the husband. Biology may say otherwise, but courts rule.

As for the "interstate commerce" part, a motel operator can be federally prosecuted for discrimination even if that motel is locally owned, not part of a chain, and does business in only one state. The legal justification seems to be that racial discrimination was once so pervasive that it did, in fact, impair interstate commerce.

Federal anti-discrimination law produced a good result even if its constitutional basis seems questionable. And courts are all about producing the desired results (no matter how tortured the interpretation). Aren't they?

Big Mike said...

Comes across as the 1920's speakeasy updated to the 21st century. Probably includes the under-the-table payoffs to the authorities, too.

mikee said...

I have been told that my actions consisted of likely violations of federal law in many places by many people: in an accountant's office, a national laboratory, a judge's chambers, beside a bucolic wetland, and many other locales both elegant or businesslike, and less so.

Violating federal law is so damn easy these days one can do so almost anywhere, without the least intention of doing so.

Knowing you are violating federal laws and doing so intentionally are quite a different thing than doing so as you go about your daily life or engage in any business, anywhere.

mikee said...

I have been told that my actions consisted of likely violations of federal law in many places by many people: in an accountant's office, a national laboratory, a judge's chambers, beside a bucolic wetland, and many other locales both elegant or businesslike, and less so.

Violating federal law is so damn easy these days one can do so almost anywhere, without the least intention of doing so.

Knowing you are violating federal laws and doing so intentionally are quite a different thing than doing so as you go about your daily life or engage in any business, anywhere.

Kirk Parker said...

Peter,

"The legal justification seems to be that racial discrimination was once so pervasive that it did, in fact, impair interstate commerce."

But even that is not a legitimate use of the Commerce Clause power--the text doesn't say "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes and things which might be construed to affect the same"

Jim said...

Don't think about working for many Federal jobs for about 3 years. To get a TS clearance, they will ask about illegal drug use. They don't think that it's legal.

ken in sc said...

During the Carter administration, I was in the Air Force. Our budget was cut to the point that we could not afford to follow all aircraft maintenance regulations, called Tech Orders. MAC HQ sent out a message saying in effect, “Don't worry about it, we won't write you up for it.” Thus ignoring the purpose of the Tech Orders in the first place—safety and efficiency.

I think this is what the Obama administration is telling states like Colorado. “Don't worry about it, we won't arrest you for it—until we do.” If it is not worth enforcing, it's not worth having on the books.