January 23, 2013

"So far, few traditional farmers lining up to grow marijuana in Washington state, Colorado."

WaPo reports:
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law....

The Justice Department has not said whether it will try to block the two states from implementing their new laws, passed late last year.....

In addition, marijuana is a crop that can’t be insured, and federal drug law bars banks from knowingly serving the industry....

Both states are in the process of developing rules for a legal marijuana industry....
How can state rules possibly make the industry legal? They can only make chaos that might conceivably move Congress to change the federal law. I don't see that coming any time soon. The Justice Department might say something encouraging, but will the next President's Justice Department stick with whatever position Eric Holder embraces?

Even if you felt sure you wouldn't be prosecuted, would you want to sign up on an official list as someone who is conspicuously committing an ongoing felony? Would you switch from a legal crop and expose yourself like that? And even if some farmers would go ahead and violate the criminal law — presumably because the upside profits are high — does the inability to buy crop insurance and use banks wreck the whole idea?
Dozens of marijuana experts, who have been growing plants for medical use or in secret for illegal use, are educating state officials about the potential for the crop. Probably 95 percent of those people choose to grow their plants indoors, despite higher costs, to control light and temperature, improve quality and increase yields....
Indoor crops generally allow for up to three harvests per season, compared to just one harvest for an outdoor crop, and allow for easier security measures. 
So "traditional farmers" have an entirely separate reason for not responding to the new program. You can't be growing marijuana amber-waves-of-grain-on-the-fruited-plain style. This stuff will be grown in big warehouses, pulling in loads of electricity for intense lighting and heavily guarded with guns! guns! guns!

Oh, but here's a little old lady, "Gail Besemer, who grows flowers and vegetables near Deming, Wash., [who] has expressed interest in a producers’ license."
Besemer already has three hoop houses, which are essentially temporary greenhouses, but could see expanding her business slightly to grow marijuana for a local clientele in northwest Washington.
Slightly! Flowers! Grandma!
However, “I’m concerned about druggies invading my property — ne’er-do-wells invading my property to steal, to get free dope,” she said. “Security would be an issue.”
Where do you get off with that contempt for the consumers of the product you want to grow? Seems to me, these are your people. Don't insult them.
“My family is not particularly excited about me being interested in this. But if someone has an integrated farm, growing a number of different crops, I would think it would be a high profit plant,” she said. “Taxation and security might get in the way of profits, and it might end not being so profitable.”
Yeah, you'd better think about it, lady. There's a reason it's a high profit plant. If it weren't for all these problems, any idiot could grow his own in his house. Take away the obstacles, and it's not a business at all. Which removes half of the attraction for the government, since there won't be anything to tax if there isn't a big rules-heavy structure burdening business. This isn't a game for the little old lady with her flowers and hoop houses. But that's the screwy, sentimental anecdote The Washington Post ties to plant in our brain.


Expat(ish) said...

Here in NC we have special (especial?) laws protecting crops.

"If any person shall steal or feloniously take and carry away any maize, corn, wheat, rice or other grain, or any cotton, tobacco, potatoes, peanuts, pulse, fruit, vegetable or other product cultivated for food or market, growing, standing or remaining ungathered in any field or ground, that person is guilty of a Class H felony. "


I wonder if that would cover crops that are illegal?

Final thought: the ROC for growing dope is probably high enough that crop insurance is unimportant.


traditionalguy said...

Commerce has to have a stable legal system for its financial transactions. With Federal Law stopping that from happening, the Drugs in commerce will have to stay in the illegal system.

In the illegal system the enforcement of the commercial transactions must remain violence and murder.

NB:Lawyers and Judges is the necessary part of all commerce that happens without Mafia enforcement methods doing that job.

Obama's guys are ChiTown Mafia at heart.

Colonel Angus said...

Why drugs are illegal is beyond my ken.

Bryan C said...

"Obama's guys are ChiTown Mafia at heart."

Nah. They're the guys the Mafia wouldn't let in, because they do stupid stuff that's bad for business.

garage mahal said...

Why drugs are illegal is beyond my ken.

Especially a plant that grows naturally. We can't even grow hemp, which has over 50,000 uses. Cannabis prohibition has caused untold suffering around the world because a handful of people don't want it grown.

Mitchell the Bat said...

"[A]ny idiot could grow his own in his house."

Remember those dishwashers on wheels with the hose coupling you attached to the kitchen faucet?

And didn't washing machines and clothes dryers used to go in the basement?

Kitchen cabinetry now accommodates a microwave oven although your keurig still goes on the kitchen countertop.

Pettifogger said...

Not directly on point, but related, states pursuing their own marijuana policies and the holding that it was improper for Arizona to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws may portend the future of gun regulation. The southern, plains, and mountain states may decide that they will stand down from enforcing federal gun-control laws. What is illegal under federal law will remain so, but the feds can't hope to replicate state law-enforcement capacity.

The proposed laws threatening to arrest federal officers attempting to enforce federal laws are, at best, silly. But a state law holding certain federal policies to be against the public policy of the state and, as to those laws, telling the feds that they are on their own seems fine to me. That should include refusing to hold arrestees in local jails. The feds should build their own jails.

jr565 said...

THe whole problem with legalizing drugs is, if you legalize drugs you have to regulate drugs. Think about big pharma. If three people die on fenfen the drug gets taken off the market. Even cigarettes are subject to class action suits for the effects of using their product even though we've known that smoking is bad for you since the 50's to 60's.
so if someone bites off someones face because he tried bath salts it drives it back underground and the person who put it out gets subject to class action suits that put him out of business. But people will still want their bath salts, so that will mean there will be an underground market for it.

This is less true for pot aince the effects are milder in most cases. But I don't see how it ever becomes legal under our current structure. And even if it did, I don't see the criminal element still not acting like criminals to deal with the competition. Unless we are suggesting that big tobacco becomes Big Marijuana.
If that's the case let one person smoking Marlboro pot get lung cancer. And then see what happens.
How will the Mayor Bloombergs of the world respond to people smoking pot in public, what with all the second hand cancer causing smoke.

jr565 said...

also, if individuals are going to be growing pot in their backyards, and they are anti guns they might want to rethink their arguments since I can see a lot of interest growing for what they have growing in their back yards from people who probably don't have qualms about doing stuff we might not like in polite society to get access to that pot.

jr565 said...

We had a drink taken off the shelves that had caffeine and booze in it. Imagine if we had bath salts on the shelves?

Some drugs will NEVER be legalized. Pot may or may not be one of those drugs. But even if you said pot should be legal that doesn't necessarily apply to other drugs.

mariner said...

Colonel Angus,
Why drugs are illegal is beyond my ken.

This isn't difficult.

It's a way for government agents (police, politicians and judges) to have bigger jobs with more money, and the legal authority to snoop in other people's lives.

It scratches the itch some people have to mandate how others live their lives.

But mostly the money and power that accrues to police, politicians and judges.

Mr Evilwrench said...

There are LED based grow lights now that are much more energy efficient, enough so that the energy consumption should not draw attention.

I wonder, if perhaps the taboo of illegality is what makes marijuana such a gateway. If it were legally available and quality controlled, perhaps there would be less motivation to move on to the next thing.

It seems to me that the bath salts, like ketamine, MDMA, etc. came about as a way to skirt the illegality of the more natural drugs. Not to mention, illegality doesn't seem to be slowing anyone down from getting the stuff.

Noz pkr said...

Gateway to a faded nation. As if our culture isn't dumbed down enough.

mariner said...


You're starting with the assumption that drugs have always been illegal, and will never be made legal.

In fact drugs WERE legal until well into the 20th Century, when they were criminalized.

The War Against [Some] Drugs has turned into a war against the Constitution, as government agents seek more and more authority to interdict drug use.

It's been a far worse disaster than Prohibition.

edutcher said...

Those dumb clodhoppers in Flyover Country get what the brights refuse to, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time".

Colonel Angus said...

Why drugs are illegal is beyond my ken.

Is it beyond your barbie?

(had to...)

madAsHell said...

Deming, Washington??

Dollars to donuts, this woman is already growing weed. Now, why in the world does she want to share her income with the government??

Beats me!

Levi Starks said...

It seems to me that states have some options. The DOJ has effectively told states that states cannot force the DOJ to enforce federal law in their states. And they will not ignore it if the states try and do their jobs for them.
I would suggest that states simply state that they will not provide any any assistance to the DOJ when they engage in enforcement activities that run counter to state law. And, that they will vigorously prosecute individual federal agents if said agents violate the rights of their citizenry. No more wink, wink, we'll just look the other way, because we're all just one big law enforcement family.

Richard Dolan said...

"How can state rules possibly make the industry legal?"

They can't but that hardly matters. As the states move to legalize what the feds criminalize, the feds will have two problems. The first is political, both in the normal sense and in the sense of possible jury nullification issues in states that take a different tack. And that will probably lead pragmatic US Attys to give the marijuana ban the same treatment that anti-contraceptive laws got in the 60s and anti-sodomy laws got after the 70s. Have you noticed that many US Attys harbor political ambitions?

Long before the SCOTUS formally tossed out anti-contraception and anti-sodomy laws, many states still had such laws on the books (the SCOTUS cases could never have arisen if they didn't). But there were no prosecutions and no real prospects of any. In order to get the issue to the SCOTUS took some creative lawyering to get past that problem. Similarly today, in some states, casual drug use (at least with marijuana) is so widely accepted as a social norm that prosecutorial discretion will hollow out what remains of federal criminal bans. With his choom-gang past, Obama especially has turned current federal policy into an unfunny joke. It's only a matter of time before the logical next step gets taken, as a pratical reality if not as a matter of formal repeal.

Carol said...

This is less true for pot aince the effects are milder in most cases.

Doesn't matter if a jury somewhere will buy it as proximate cause of some injury.

Anonymous said...

They should legalize domestic grown (no import) Marijuana then regulate and tax the growers out of existence.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I would think Colorado and Washington need only the acquiescence of their local U.S. Attorneys. If the U.S. Attorney won't apply for search or arrest warrants, charge cases, or bring them before the grand jury, then you have de facto legalization.

Sure, it would be foolish to lend explicitly to marijuana growing operations, but surely fools can be found in the land of Silverado Savings & Loan and Washington Mutual.

In Massachusetts we have decriminalization not full legalization. Yet Massachusetts already has a grow shop industry. http://www.gyostuff.com/

Levi Starks said...

If Obama were to retire to CO, and lived on an estate protected by secret service agents.....
Make up your own fictitious ending.

BarrySanders20 said...

This issue really bothers Althouse. States overtly challenging the supremacy of the federal law criminalizing something that ought not be criminal (in their state citizens' view) with laws that are proven failures -- the nerve!

These states don't seem to know their place. They won't submit and behave. This isn't liberty, it is lawless anarchy to show open distain for federal laws, however inane. Bother!

I want this fight to occur, particularly from blue states pushing back against a federal government that has conferred far too much power upon itself by legislating in areas that it has no business legislating, with a SCOTUS that has expanded tax and commerce powers far beyond anything imaginable, all in the service of bigger more intrusive federal government, where just about every area of life now is subject to federal criminal or regulatory penalty.

This is a test of federalism, and the states should test the limits every so often.

Sigivald said...

Even if you felt sure you wouldn't be prosecuted, would you want to sign up on an official list as someone who is conspicuously committing an ongoing felony?


But on the other hand, no matter what the Supreme Court said in Raich, there's no sane way the Commerce Clause ("commerce among the several states") can justify making growing a plant illegal, or prohibit in-state production and sale.

(There's a reason we needed an amendment to make selling liquor in-state illegal.

And that's that Congress has no legitimate power over in-state commerce.)

Kirk Parker said...

Expat(ish), in NC you have eight degrees of felony? How very complicated...

Sigivald said...

jr565 said: THe whole problem with legalizing drugs is, if you legalize drugs you have to regulate drugs

Well, no.

That "drugs" in the sense of medicines are highly regulated does not mean that "drugs" have to be.

The State loves to regulate because it gives Congress something to point at and justify itself.

It is not necessary to regulate everything, especially at any level of detail.

Michael K said...

There was an amusing movie about a little old lady who was nearing the loss of her green houses when she was convinced to grow marijuana and it all turned out happily. I think the story was set in England. Can't recall the name.

ken in sc said...

Hashish, a marijuana derivative, is not very benign. Aside from it being the origin of the word assassin, it is indirectly responsible for the development of the M1911 .45 cal. Pistol. Insurrectionists in the Philippines were so high on hashish that they were unaware of being shot and continued to fight until they bled out. This led the US Army to develop a pistol so powerful that it would not just kill but knock down the attacker so hard that he could not get back up.

How do Washington and Colorado plan to deal with hashish.

BTW, I don't care about drugs one way or another, but I do care about defending my home. I guess I will have to replace my .32 and get an M1911 .45 cal. 9MM is just a glorified .38.

ALP said...

Michael K:

"Saving Grace"

ALP said...

Ken in sc:

Got a link for that story? As a pothead who partakes of hash as well, and is well aware of how the two compare - I am not buying it. Sounds much more like one of those high dose LSD experiments - unless they were using hash made by the military in a concentration not available to the general public.

ken in sc said...

You can Google the m1911 and the history of the Philippines and the origin of the word assassin. These things are well known.

ken in sc said...

BTW, LSD was not around until the late 50s, early 60s. I am talking about the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Hashish has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.

ALP said...

I stand corrected, but that's some serious stuff, no where near what I've come across, which makes me skeptical (but I'll admit I have not traveled the world to partake in other countries). Too many times, those who do not have experience smoking weed or hash believe stories that sound like they came from "Reefer Madness".
Off to Google....

ALP said...

The term hashishiyya or hashishi as used by Muslim sources is used metaphorically in its abusive sense (i.e. "irreligious social outcasts", "low-class rabble", etc.). "The literal interpretation of this term in referring to the Nizaris (as hashish consuming intoxicated assassins) is rooted in the fantasies of medieval Westerners and their imaginative ignorance of Islam and the Ismailis."[2] These supposedly medieval fantasies were still in vogue as late as 1990 until the publication of the ground breaking book on the Ismailis by the Twelver Shia author and researcher in original documents in Arabic and Persian that had been discovered in the late 20th century concerning the Ismailis in general and the Nizari Ismailis in particular.

***************** Above from Wikipedia***********

"....rooted in the fantasies of medieval Westerners and their imaginative ignorance of Islam and the Ismailis."[2] These supposedly medieval fantasies were still in vogue as late as 1990..."

Ah, I take my last post back: sounds like an old school "Reefer Madness" - still not buying that hash drives one into a murderous rage...sounds like the military culture was responsible for that.

Anonymous said...

As a true-blue conservative/libertarian, I say go back to the old ways - send the virgins running through the marijuana fields and scrape the hashish from their skins. Although, finding the marijuana fields might be easier than finding the virgins....

Truckee Man said...

Product liability issues alone will prevent any kind of sustained drug commerce. Who wants to be sued by the family of a druggie who ruined his health using your product?

Revenant said...

Even after marijuana is legalized I don't expect many "traditional farmers" to get in on the act. The plant is incredibly easy to grow and people interested in the drug can grow it as much as they could conceivably take with minimal effort.

The reason they don't now is that doing so is a felony.

Mike said...

Legalization in the Western (California, Colorado, Washington, Alaska) sense -- and yes I'm conflating legal with medicinal for purposes of getting this message across -- means the best way for a user to obtain marijuana is through a co-op or to grow your own. Co-ops carry the liabilities of being law enforcement targets and mighty attractive to thieves. So, although the grow-at-home expenses are high, in the long run that may prove the best method unless and until cooperative grow operations are secure from legal and illegal seizure. For now, California has a rather easy-to-use system whereby many "retail medicinal distribution" points are in effect growing operations with a fortified storefront. Customers sign up to "join the co-op" and must present their doctor recommendation each time they show up for supplies, and it works well.
Prices are about half of "street pricing" for some very good weed. However, there are a wide range of quality and cost selections that would be difficult for the home grower to replicate. Economies of scale, you know!

jr565 said...

Sigivald wrote:
That "drugs" in the sense of medicines are highly regulated does not mean that "drugs" have to be.

The State loves to regulate because it gives Congress something to point at and justify itself.

It is not necessary to regulate everything, especially at any level of detail.

dude they regulate the paint used in kids toys. They regulate food grown. Do you think they somehow wouldn't regulate heroin?
And by the way, heroin may have been used medicinally at some point in the past, but is not anymore. Probably because of the nasty side effects. But if you're saying its not going to regulated like a drug you're essentially arguing that a drug dealer, and not a doctor prescribing medication to solve a medical problem should have the ability to make someone a slave to a drug so powerful they need another equally powerful drug to take in its place do they don't die simply because of profit.
If you sell heroin to a customer and that person dies using you product, you will be held liable. Not only that, what is to stop a drug dealer from using atuff like rat poison or solvents to make their drugs? Would they not be held liable for putting poison in their products?

Are you not aware of how selling products works in this country?

jr565 said...

Do you think, by the way that govt SHOULD regulate lead paint in toys?

Revenant said...

The more relevant question is "what WILL they regulate".

The government can't pay for itself. When push comes to shove, will voters worry more about funding the Department of Regulating Everything Ever, or Grandma's hip replacement?

ampersand said...

When marijuana becomes legal, the BATF becomes the Bureau of Alchohol,Tobacco,Firearms and Cannabis. God help us then as those mudder fockers will shoot your wife, your dog and you in legal cold blood.

As far as the lawsuits , will the first on be on account of smoked caused cancer or munchie caused obesity?

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce said...

Random observations about this topic (and no, I'm not stoned!):

Growing marijuana is easy - it's a weed! But growing *good* marijuana is difficult, and takes a great deal of specialized knowledge and a lot of work. It's not like these farmers can just throw some seeds in the ground and cash in.

That said, when you do know what you are doing, you can get quite a yield from a small number of plants. A friend of mine is a (legal, at least in CA) grower, and he makes a full time living by growing about 40 plants and selling the harvest to Medical Marijuana dispensaries. In case you don't know, 40 plants is small - they would fit in half an average sized bedroom. (Despite whatever stereotypes one may have about growers, he also works his butt off doing it, takes it *very* seriously, and is often reading scientific books on botany and agricultural techniques that I can't even follow. He smokes occasionally but is far from being a "stoner").

If traditional farmers do choose to grow marijuana, why sign up and advertise that fact? Just start growing it.

I think that if made legal, there are strong limits to how much it can be taxed and regulated. Why? Because there is such a strong, established black market in marijuana, that if "government" marijuana is taxed too much, or made a hassle in any way, folks will still just buy the way they always have, and leave the government out of it.

In my experience, there are vanishingly few people who want to use marijuana, but don't do so only because it is illegal. (Most) folks either have no interest in it, or already use it.

In Northern California where I live, marijuana is de facto legal already, even without a medical marijuana card. *Anyone* can easily get *any* amount of marijuana. A policeman seeing marijuana will generally walk away, unless he has some other reason he wants to give you a hard time.

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Robert Bergman said...

If we all start growing ourself, for medical purposes, they cannot stop it anymore. We are on a mission to help everyone grow for medical use
, to promote te cause of legalisation

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