Cannabinomics The Marijuana Policy Tipping Point—A conversation with author Christopher Fichtner, M.D.


Christopher Fichtner is a psychiatrist and the former mental health director for the state of Illinois. In his new book, Cannabinomics: The Marijuana Policy Tipping Point, Fichtner predicts that marijuana policy is about to change radically. As Fichtner points out, three public policy trajectories converging. The medical marijuana movement is gaining momentum. People are increasingly wakening up to the fact that drug prohibition creates more public health problems than it solves. And, in the same way that the Great Depression caused people to reprioritize how we spend our public dollars, the current economic crisis has got people thinking that bringing the biggest cash crop in the US out into the open might not be such a bad idea.'s Paul Feine sat down with Dr. Fichtner to learn more about the imminent marijuana policy tipping point.

Approximately 10 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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  1. With all due respect, if the Marijuana Policy tipping point is anyting like the Global Warming tipping point, people gonna be waiting around a loooong time.

    1. Fun fact: The temperature finally climbed above 50 (you’ll note that it’s mid August) here in Seattle, and swerved carelessly into the high 70’s, and the local News has already used the words “Heat wave”.

  2. Paul, unlike Global Warming, we don’t need to write bullshit computer code, fudge facts, or hide declines to support our position. The only thing holding people back is religious morality and 70 years of (dishonest) government propaganda.

    1. This still fails to answer why Benecio Del Toro is in the sidebar, holding a bong.

      1. *sigh* 70 years of (dishonest) government propaganda.

        1. So you’re saying Benecio Del Toro sold out?

          1. They’re probably from secret surveillance taken for another propaganda campaign: Smoke Pot and You’ll Wind Up Like Benecio Del Toro!

            1. Benicio is gone. Someone got wind of our conversation.

              1. Now don’t get paranoid, Paul.

      2. To illustrate what happens when you reach the tipping point: bong water all over the rug.

    2. This.

    3. “”The only thing holding people back is religious morality and 70 years of (dishonest) government propaganda.””

      Remove those two and you’re still stuck with warriors who don’t want to surrender because it’s a war and surrendering is wrong. As long a that attitude prevails, little will change.

  3. Is that Gillespie firing up that blunt at about 3:00?

    1. It’s a joint, not a blunt, but yes. That was The Jacket ripping a hit.

      I fucking love Reason.

    2. You can also see him hanging out in front of the Reason headquarters having a smoke break at 1:52.

  4. When I remember that cannabis has been perfectly legal for most of human history, I’m optimistic about the future of legalization (at least on the grand timescale of recorded history).

    1. Throughout human history, almost everything has been perfectly legal.

      Our current state of affairs is sometimes referred to as “evolution”.

  5. distracting background music…

  6. Still kinda skittish about hanging too much on the “largest cash crop in the US” claim. With legalization, the prices will plummet, with the greater percentage of the retail cost being taxes, much as with cigarettes and alcohol today. And further, basing the numbers off of the drug warriors wildly inflated pricing/value estimates probably isn’t a great idea, either.

    True production costs, particularly for outdoor growers, are actually very modest. Without the artificial inflation due to prohibition, it’s not unrealistic to expect even ‘high grade’ pot prices to plummet, possibly to the $35-40/oz range, maybe even lower with true mass production. Hence, the strong resistance from the Humbolt Growers to Cali prop 19. They’re about to see their monetary gravy train truly go up in smoke.

    1. I would expect PRODUCTION costs to be something like $1.00 per pound, very similar to Tobacco.

      1. Somewhat more than that for an indoor/hydroponic/artificially lit setup, (some of) which is necessary to produce year round. Even using dirt, the electricity costs will send it north of a buck a pound.

        1. Well, if it were legal, it would also be available through import. Imagine Hindu Kush at $70 / ounce. ($40 in taxes, $30 for the sellers)

        2. I was talking about outdoor production. I see no reason to grow indoors if MJ is legal.

          1. Off-season?

            1. Maybe a reason. Tobacco farmers grow enough during the season to last all year, why would MJ farmers do otherwise.

              The only two real reasons I can think of to grow indoors are for the:

              1. boutique appeal – some people like to drink expensive bottled water for this reason.
              2. it is easier to keep the female plants from being fertilized (fornication is the root of all evil ;-]), hence producing higher quality MJ.

              1. If it keeps well enough in the fridge or Bell jars or whatever, they could definitely grow one crop a year.

                In addition to the boutique appeal, people in cities who want to grow their own would obviously grow indoors. I know nothing about hydroponics, but some people might also find it easier to control the variables indoors while experimenting with different nutrients & lighting to see what produces the highest quality pot.

              2. Marijuana stores very well one crop even with a small footprint should easily meet a years use. Think tomatoes that don’t spoil.


                Indoors gets you a huge electric bill, PRIVACY, (a big deal when the product is, contraband and of great interest to fence climbing kids) and control over the growing season.

                Outdoors, pots potting soil, clones and your time, (about 3 1/2 months). In a well managed four gallon can 4 or more oz. is within reach. At $3000 an oz. $750 per plant, clones costing between $10 and $15 a 4 gallon pot $2 and enough potting soil for 2 pots about $6 a $50 investment plus about $100 for a statement of a California Physician makes you a farmer.

                The backlash will come as prices in California fall and inexpensive high quality product begins to erode prices in other states.

                The boutique value will likely rest on particular clones well grown both indoors and out.

                Resin concentrations are highest on the flowers and small leaves associated with the flowers. Marijuana continues to produce new flower buds until some are pollinated. Once pollination occurs the plant puts its energy into developing seed and production of buds ends. Sensimilla (without seeds), is the primary product available in dispensaries. Wide availibility of female stem cuttings from known cultivars has made cultivation far easier for the novice grower. This and the advances in high efficiency lighting have hugely stacked the table for a price collapse.

  7. See The drug war: When to stop digging?” at…..-drug-war/

    Jack Lohman

    1. One thing you missed, Jack, is that the drug war often makes the drugs themselves more dangerous. Opium addiction in most of 19th century England would be considered “rampant” or “epidemic” by today’s standards. Yet there was no real crime associated with it. Opium was freely available, usually in the form of laudanum, for anyone with a penny. It was viewed as a drug that helped (mostly farm) workers get through their dreary days.

      After the drug was prohibited, the milder forms such as opium and laudanum disappeared in favor of heroin, which was compact and didn’t have the distinct odor of opium, making it easier to hide. Needless to say, the chances of adulteration went up greatly, meaning that the drug became far more dangerous – even without factoring in the additional danger from its increased potency.

      Similarly, the recent stories about an immune-suppressant drug being used to cut cocaine shows what can happen with illegal drugs that aren’t subject to the forces legitimate drugs face (even excluding the FDA, market forces alone would prevent most of these events – but the DEA succeeds enough to limit competition.)

      The drug warriors, of course, not only don’t care how many drug users die, but actively hope for drug deaths to increase. They deliberately added poison to alcohol during prohibition in the belief that the deaths would scare people away from drinking, and the same mentality still pervades the same type of person.

      Also, you’ve probably already seen this, but if not check out the Portuguese experience with decriminalization.

      1. ^the major problem with most American drug (remove the word drug and the sentence is still true) policy debate is that it’s based on “speculation and fear mongering,” rather than empirical evidence”

  8. I see industrial hemp production being a great boost to the economoy because of its many versatile uses. Cotton industry in the United States is gone (china doesnt need $500k combine harvesters when a million people picking by hand still works for them) and hemp would be a great rotation cash crop. Textiles, fuel, industrial applications, etc.

    I think the idea of hemp re-legalization for the purpose of getting high will be miniscule as to its industrial apps

    1. One of the great things about this is that the buds aren’t used for any of the industrial applications. The entire plant can be used in some way or another.

      Given its fast growth, the eco-crowd might find it useful as a CO2 sink as well. Sure as hell beats cap and trade.

  9. Hemp seed has a complete array of proteins and essential fatty acids. It is naturally resistant to pests and weeds. The hemp plant makes great fiber for textiles and paper. I believe hemp was the real target of marijuana criminalization.

    1. I don’t like marijuana.

      1. Try inhaling, fool.

        I say to you and your government cronies as Moses said to pharaoh: Don’t Bogart that joint.

    2. The DuPont family played a large roll in having hemp criminalized so they could sell lots of their new wonder fiber, nylon. Is it a coincident that hemp was made illegal the same year that nylon was patented?

      Legalize it & tax the hell out of it.

      1. Or we could moderately tax it.

      2. Or we could moderately tax it.

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  11. Remove those two and you’re still stuck with warriors who don’t want to surrender because it’s a war and surrendering is wrong. As long a that attitude prevails, little will change.

  12. Thanks for the feedback, though I do disagree that drug dealers wish to kill their customers.

  13. Legalize now. We have alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, TV, and the Internet. America needs more drugs because we are not productive enough! MJ will unlock our hidden potential as a free and balanced nation and propel us into the 21st century to bury the Chinese with our newly invigorated mental and social spirit!

    Onward Mara-jawana soldiers,
    Marching as to war,
    With the cross of dope,
    Like a mighty army moves the church of me,
    . . . .

  14. This was a great read on marijuana policy. It echos some valid point I read in another article but also fails to address the counter points. Read for yourself:…..opic_ID=57

  15. This was a great read and the article made some great points on marijuana policy. I also found another interesting read on this subject a couple days ago:

  16. Didn’t Mexico decriminalize possession of small amounts of cocaine and marijuana? If so, what does that do to the ‘legalize and there will be less black-market related crime’ argument?

  17. You can export whatever you used it in, but you must manufacture it in China.

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