Feds Worry That Legal Pot Will Be Too Cheap and Too Expensive

Since the Obama administration has not responded in any substantive way to the impending legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, we must look elsewhere for clues to its thinking. Judging from an October 2010 "fact sheet" about marijuana legalization prepared by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), thinking may be too charitable a description. The ONDCP warns that "legalization would lower price, thereby increasing use." As if that's a bad thing. A rational calculus would count greater consumer satisfaction and savings from lower prices as benefits of legalization.

In any event, by the end of the fact sheet the ONDCP has stopped worrying that "legalization would cause the price of marijuana to plummet" and started worrying that the price would be too high—so high that Mexican cartels, operating under the same legal and practical constraints they face now, could beat it. The ONDCP says "legalization would do little, if anything, to curb drug violence." One reason: "Under the most commonly proposed legalization regime—one that imposes high taxes on marijuana—violent drug cartels would simply undercut legal prices to keep their market share." So according to the federal government, the price of pot will plummet following legalization while remaining above the black-market level. Pot will be dangerously cheap yet dangerously expensive at the same time. So the Obama administration admits that marijuana legalization can do miracles.

[Thanks to Allen St. Pierre for the tip.]

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  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    "the price of pot will plummet following legalization while remaining above the black-market level."

    This is utter, complete, and total bullshit. If you can throw some seeds out the back porch, and wait til Fall, you will have the former equivalent of thousands of dollars of high-grade weed. If there's a cartel that starts paying people to take their pot, I'll retract what I just said.

  • Almanian.||

    a cartel that starts paying people to take their pot

    This is the federal government's role - and they will dispense it with extreme prejudice.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    All the federal government is doing is creating an artificial price subsidy for the cartels by putting up legal barriers to entry. They are, in effect, paying the cartels to stay in business.

  • Almanian.||

    New around here - here, let me see if this helps...

    /sarc

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Thanks that helped.

  • jway||

    Yeah, paying the cartels with taxpayers' money. :(
    It's so weird - we pay to make our kids LESS safe. Why?

  • Brett L||

    Tough to keep all the balls in the air all of a sudden.

  • C. Anacreon||

    If it does end up too expensive, I'm sure that government programs will be able to supply Dope Stamps to those unable to purchase on their own.

  • R C Dean||

    Under the most commonly proposed legalization regime—one that imposes high taxes on marijuana—violent drug cartels would simply undercut legal prices to keep their market share.

    They're this close to admitting that the violence is a direct result of the black market created by their precious WOD, and that it would go away under a reasonable legalization regime.

    Too bad we'll never see them asked "So, if a state imposes high taxes on pot, any continued cartel activity and violence would be attributable to the taxes?" and "If I understand you, the violence associated with the drug trade is because it is a black market. Doesn't this mean that drug prohibition, which creates the black market, is responsible for the violence?"

  • jway||

    Secretary of State Clinton has already directly stated that when she said that "the killings, beheadings and bombings in Mexico are due to 'our insatiable demand for illegal drugs'".

  • ||

    They kind of also skate around the conclusion that legalization will cut into the profits of violent drug cartels, because they will have to lower prices, thus leading to fewer people participating in said violent cartels.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Yeah, that's some self-fulfilling question begging. "Prices will be high, because we will keep them high. Therefore prices will be high and easily undercut."

  • Caleb Turberville||

    And the award for Most Punchable Face of the Year goes to....

  • Almanian.||

    I'm still after that R. Vans dude from the UN. What a speedbag he is.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    He's a UN stooge. Can't blame him for how he looks; none of those guys have ever walked outside and had to deal with the real world.

  • ||

    Speedbag...

    You slay me!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Since the Obama administration has not responded in any substantive way to the impending legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington...

    What changes if they do respond? Are we saying the ambiguity will be gone if Obama promises his administration will respect those states' decisions? If I lived in Colorado or Washington and was so inclined, I still don't think I would openly partake unless I was ready to replace my front door and dog.

  • R C Dean||

    Are we saying the ambiguity will be gone if Obama promises his administration will respect those states' decisions?

    That's pretty much what they said about medpot, before going on a rampage closing dispensaries.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    You know, if they are so concerned about marijuana becoming cheaper, the government could jump in and subsidize it. That might work?

  • Almanian.||

    I was thinking the same thing...

    Almanian.| 11.21.12 @ 2:35PM |#

    a cartel that starts paying people to take their pot

    This is the federal government's role - and they will dispense it with extreme prejudice.

  • waaminn||

    Are politicians jsut naturally dumb? I often wonder!

    www.Anon-Max.tk

  • ||

    Anonobot, you seem to have an awfully hard time with the word "just".

  • ||

    I'm off to the movies.

    WOLVERINES!

  • rts||

    Dear Lord, why?

  • Brett L||

    Did you lose a bet?

  • ||

    You guys didn't like the original Red Dawn? I imagine you don't care for pizza, puppies or Santa Claus either?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    The prohibitionists are starting to get scared. They will soon start to push back hard against demon weed. Evidence the study released yesterday that implies that DUI marijuana is even worse than DUI alcohol.

    "Nearly half had marijuana. That was the drug. And sometimes it was marijuana plus other drugs, or marijuana plus alcohol," said Chris Cochran, Office of Traffic Safety.

    They are going to double down on blaming weed for all of society's problems. Federal enforcement to ensue.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    My god, a DUI for alcohol also had mj in his blood. I'm going to faint.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Remember this as the reason to always go for the breath test. Blood or urine will show anything in your system, even if it is not fresh. MJ can show up from a month ago -- but they will still charge you as being under its influence. The breath test is only for the presence of alcohol in the blood.

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    You'd think that legal pot would make things easier for the Feds to go after the cartels because domestic producers would be ever more inclined to rat out their importing competitors, thus reducing competition. Also, if you legalize it and tax it to the same level as cigarettes, I imagine it would have a similar black market clearing price and I haven't heard of the deadly cigarette cartels beheading small villages in Virginia?

  • NeonCat||

    It happens, but it's hushed up. You think all those little towns in SW VA are empty because the coal mining (and other economic activity) went away? Why do you think they have that "Virginia is for Lovers" ad campaign? Giant coverup. You drive into a town and it's empty, poke around and find the pile of bodies, with a single Winston snuffed out on the mayor's forehead, right between his staring eyes, and you'd know, those RJR goons have done it again.

    I left. I left and I never looked back, and if you know what's good for you you won't try to find the truth. Just read the warnings about dying from smoking on a pack of cigarettes and try not to think about how violent that dying can be.

  • Chris Mallory||

    The deadly cigarette cartels are run by the government. Don't get pulled over in Illinois with more than 2 cartons of out of state cigs in your car.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    DEA: THREAT or MENACE?

  • jway||

    The price of pot *will* plummet but that doesn't mean that use will increase.

    Illegal producers take a risk of getting caught and require extra compensation for taking this risk. As legal producers don't take this risk they therefore don't need this extra remuneration and will be able to undercut the drug dealer's prices - even after taxation.

    Lower prices, better quality and LEGAL will make customers ditch their drug dealers in droves - thus eliminating their profits and driving them out of the market. *This* will significantly hinder the ability of teenagers to access marijuana at all.

    So drug dealers will be gone and teenagers won't be smoking nearly as much. And the government has a problem with this, why?

  • LarryA||

    People will be having fun. Can't have that. Might start thinking they have a right to pursue happiness or something.

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