Free Pot! (Anti-Tax Message Included)


Jacob Sullum

At yesterday's Senate hearing on marijuana legalization, anti-pot activist Kevin Sabet complained that opponents of heavy cannabis taxes in Colorado "just launched their campaign by handing out 4,000 joints publicly." He was referring to a protest organized by Denver attorney and longtime marijuana activist Rob Corry, who wants to defeat Proposition AA, a November ballot measure that would impose a 15 percent excise tax and a special 10 percent sales tax on pot sold by the state-licensed stores that are supposed to start opening early next year. To call attention to their cause, Corry and his friends gave away joints at Denver's Civic Center on Monday.

The Denver Post reports that "hundreds of people lined up" and that organizers, having brought only 600 joints, "had to furiously roll more on the hood of a parked car." According to KDVR, the Fox station in Denver, "as many as 4,000 marijuana cigarettes were passed out." Whatever the actual number, the publicity stunt was perfectly legal under Amendment 64, which allows people to share up to an ounce at a time "without remuneration," provided the recipient is at least 21. As the Post notes, one ounce "amounts to about 50 or 60 joints" (assuming half a gram per joint), and Corry et al. checked everyone's ID. Or as Corry put it on Mondsay, "It is legal to hand out marijuana to people in Colorado, and it is legal to do it without paying a penny in taxes!" It remains illegal to consume marijuana "openly and publicly" in Colorado, and according to the Post some people attracted by the giveaway did light up their joints right away, but that was not sanctioned by the organizers.

So what exactly is Sabet's beef? No doubt giving away pot offends his sensibilities, but it is explicitly permitted by Colorado law and in this context should be protected by the state constitution's free speech clause as well. Sabet's real objection, judging from his remark that people who campaigned for legalization are now campaigning against the taxes that were supposed to come with it, is to the content of Corry's message. Corry, who helped write Amendment 64, argues that heavy taxes subvert the initiative's intent, which was to tax and regulate marijuana "in a manner similar to alcohol." As I've noted, even the 15 percent excise tax envisioned by Amendment 64 is heavier than the taxes Colorado imposes on alcoholic beverages. Adding the special sales tax, which would initially be set at 10 percent but could later be raised as high as 15 percent, makes marijuana and alcohol taxes decidedly dissimilar. Corry calls that "a bait and switch," warning that heavy taxes will invite a continuing black market.

That problem looms even larger in Washington, where Initiative 502 calls for a 25 percent excise tax at each of three levels. One projection by BOTEC, the consulting group that advised the Washington State Liquor Control Board on how to regulate marijuana, puts the after-tax price of cannabis sold by state-licensed stores at $17 per gram, or $482 an ounce. By comparison, the Price of Weed website, which solicits data from pot buyers across the country, puts the current price of high-quality marijuana in Washington (presumably including marijuana sold by dispensaries, ostensibly for medical use) at $239 an ounce. If the actual price gap between the stores and the gray or black market is anything like that, concedes BOTEC CEO Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at UCLA, "that's a big problem," although he argues that some consumers will be willing to pay higher prices in exchange for convenience, "assured quality," and legal clarity. While Colorado's constitution requires separate voter approval of new taxes, Washington's does not, so the pot taxes there have already been enacted and can be changed at will by the state legislature.

Update: In response to criticism from some city council members, Denver police defended their decision not to cite people at the Civic Center on Monday for "openly and publicly" smoking pot, which is punishable by a $100 fine under state law. Deputy Chief David Quinones told The Denver Post:

We have learned from 4/20 events that if we send officers into a crowd this size or bigger, it results in less than cooperative behavior. People tend to turn on the officers. It is a petty offense, not a jailable offense. We don't want to turn this into a small riot to enforce a petty offense. So we weighed our options yesterday and opted not to take action.

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  1. What kind of a fucking prick do you have to be to become an “anti-pot activist”?

    1. Why do you hate the children?

    2. Some people are just born dipshits:

      Sabet first received notice in California when at age 15, he publicly blasted the conservative-libertarian wing of the Orange County school board for refusing to accept federal dollars for after school anti-drug programs aimed at underprivileged students.

        1. Such an asshole he’s worked at the ONDCP under Clinton, Bush, and Obama.


      1. Young Kevin hunched over his bologna in the school cafeteria. He ground his teeth with every bite, silently, seething with anger. But at what? He couldn’t put his finger on it. Was it that girls didn’t like him? Was it that he was cut from JV basketball? Was it that his parents became louder and more passionate about abortion rights every year since he was born? All those things were true, but he wasn’t angry about them. He took everything in stride, and only cut himself occasionally as punishment when he stepped outside of his self-imposed bounds of good behavior.

        He took a sip from his carton of plain white milk and overheard the kids behind him reminiscing about their weekend. Hanging around, getting high, watching TV. How relaxing it was. How fun.

        The overhead lights brightened, slowly at first, but then they became overwhelming, until Kevin could see nothing but the bright light. He closed his eyes against the unbearable glare.

        When he opened them again it was 20 minutes later, he was on the floor and surrounded by concerned people. “Are you okay Carson?” asked Ms. Rosen, his homeroom teacher for the past two years.

        “I’m fine,” Kevin said. “Better than fine. I have a purpose now.” he looked over at the kids who had been talking about the fun they had had. Never again,, he vowed silently.

        1. It’s because he was drinking Malk, Hugh. Now with Vitamin Q.

          1. “Fat Tony! You promised me “dog” or higher!”

            1. You’re all talk, NutraSweet. You never even finished Jedi school.

        2. “Drug users are a slovenly and unclean lot… I shall become a douche.”

          The microstroke is a nice touch.

        3. Wait, did someone just post a story without any vulgarity at all? I didn’t know that was possible around here.

          1. It’s pretty implicit that someone molested him while he was unconscious.

      2. Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, a consultant, advocate and a writer. With Patrick J. Kennedy, he founded Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) in January 2013. In February of 2013, Salon Magazine referred to Kevin as “the quarterback of the new anti-drug movement.”

        “Go to Hell Gay-tors, Go to Hell…EAT SHIT!”

        1. Maybe he should be the quarterback of the UF football team. He’s probably got a bigger arm than that kid they have now.

    3. “What kind of a fucking prick do you have to be to become an “anti-pot activist”?”

      Some people are convinced that drugs are evil and must be stopped, no matter what. Prohibition does much more damage than the drugs.

  2. Yay, Alt-Text for the Cannabis stock photo!

  3. I have a nephew who just started his freshman year at the University of Rhode Island.

    This morning, my brother tells me that, within the last two weeks, my nephew has decided to major in Criminal Justice and that he wants to “explore a career in law enforcement”.

    Go ahead and laugh; upon hearing this news from me, two people in my office just burst out laughing.

    Yeah, I know its just the first two weeks of college, but still………………….

    Perhaps somebody will turn him on to Balko or William Norman Grigg or any police thread here.

    1. Dash cam captures the moment a police officer HIT a couple on a motorcycle

      Couple rear-ended by state trooper on highway
      Trooper takes no evasive action whatsoever in the moments before the crash
      One month on, both are still suffering from their injuries but say they have forgiven the trooper
      Officer may still face criminal charges for the accident…..cycle.html

      Will anything else happen?

      1. “Officer may still face criminal charges for the accident”

        “Will anything else happen?”

        What exactly should happen to him?

        1. He should be hit by a car.

          1. “He should be hit by a car.”

            Should this be the standard for everyone who is involved in an accident?

            1. Only the ones that will face no other consequences whatsoever.

            2. Only those who

              takes no evasive action whatsoever

              It was the part where he didn’t try to avoid injuring them.

              1. “Only those who

                takes no evasive action whatsoever”

                “It was the part where he didn’t try to avoid injuring them.”

                I think a lot of people will be standing in the road with him then.

                1. I’m okay with that.

                  1. “I’m okay with that.”

                    If you rear end someone, you would volunteer to stand in the road then?

              2. It was the part where he didn’t try to avoid injuring them.

                The comments speculate that he was texting. I’m thinking they’re probably right. I mean, it’s not like those who enforce the law actually feel compelled to follow it. Who’s going to enforce the law when a cop breaks it? A cop?

                1. Twisted fact – in New York state, a Police Cruiser is not a “Motor Vehicle” for the purposes of the law.

                2. “The comments speculate that he was texting.”

                  My first thought was he was drinking. But texting my be true. Hopefully they will check.

                3. The comments speculate that he was texting.

                  He was probably running their license plates. I’ve seen cops look down and reach to the side while tailgating me before. It’s pretty obvious that they’re typing something into their computer on the dash, so it’s reasonable to assume they’re running my plate for no fucking reason. And I was almost rear ended by one once when the traffic ahead of me stopped.

                  1. Which is why we should have these:


                    Much safer.

        2. What exactly should happen to him?

          Whatever would happen to a normal citizen who ran over a couple people on a motorcycle and put them into the hospital with permanent injuries.

          Then there is the question of if he was texting or not. They should pull his phone records to see, just as they would for a normal citizen, and add that to the charges just like they would for a normal citizen.

          Will any of those things happen? I doubt it.

          1. “Then there is the question of if he was texting or not. They should pull his phone records to see, just as they would for a normal citizen, and add that to the charges just like they would for a normal citizen.

            Will any of those things happen? I doubt it.”

            Was there a question as to whether he was texting or not? I would hope they would pull his records because after watching the video I can’t figure out how he didn’t see them. I don’t know about Ohio; how strict are they with their troopers getting into accidents?

            1. How strict is any department these days? From what I’ve seen, not very.

  4. (assuming half a gram per joint),

    I knew you would the kind of guy that rolls pinner joints.

    1. The guy who has to foot the bill for thousands of joints.

      1. *Sorry, I read your comment wrong.

  5. puts the after-tax price of cannabis sold by state-licensed stores at $17 per gram, or $482 an ounce

    Well that’s simply self-defeating. Few will buy at double the black market price. Eventually, the lure of the tax revenue that’s being lost due to lack of sales will cause this to shift.

    1. What is the black market price?

        1. The way the sentence is built, I thought that was the Medical Price, not black market.

          1. In places with relatively permissive medical laws, I don’t think the prices differ too much. It’s the same people growing for both markets for the most part.

            1. Last year I got an ounce of medical from someone who was growing it for a dispensary. Paid $240. Shit lasted me for over six months. Then again I’m a stingy fuck who doesn’t share it with anyone in part because nobody I know knows that I smoke. But still. Six months.

              1. Does it stay fresh (good) for that long?

                1. In a tightly sealed mason jar it can stay relatively fresh for a long time, assuming it was dried properly.

                  1. The more you know

                    1. I’ve had success with dividing it into portions and vacuum packing it, but the mason jar works as well. Do not store it in the freezer.

                    2. Why not in the freezer? If vacuum sealed, it shouldn’t matter as long as you let it warm up before opening it. And the cold will slow the breakdown of useful chemicals if you want to store it for any length of time.

                    3. I’ve tried freezing legal herbs and the delicate cellular structure was totally destroyed. Turned it into mush. Wouldn’t want to try it with illegal herbs.

                    4. The cell walls burst and the THC spoils once you take it out.

              2. six months. wow. I go through an oz in a month.

    2. In Amsterdam a gram is between 10-15 euros and people pay that. It’s probably cheaper if you by more and of course it can be more expensive too.

  6. Sabet’s real objection, judging from his remark that people who campaigned for legalization are now campaigning against the taxes that were supposed to come with it, is to the content of Corry’s message.

    What a fucking moron. Rallying against over-taxation is as American as rallying against over-taxation.

  7. A 1/4 should cost, max, about $40.00.

  8. puts the current price of high-quality marijuana in Washington (presumably including marijuana sold by dispensaries, ostensibly for medical use) at $239 an ounce

    That’s exactly right, at least in my experience. The good stuff I buy is $80/quarter. Why would I ever go to a licensed store to pay double? These people are fucking retards. If I could get high-quality black market gin and avoid the 20.5% state tax, you bet your ass I would do that too.

    1. At that point, wouldn’t it be gray market gin?

  9. Corry, who helped write Amendment 64, argues that heavy taxes subvert the initiative’s intent, which was to tax and regulate marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol.”

    I know we’re supposed to take baby steps, and promising to regulate it like alcohol helps to placate the hand wringers, but this whole thing pisses me off. Alcohol is absurdly regulated. Any regulatory scheme the state legislature comes up with is going to be painfully awful. They have no right, and no reason, to regulate it AT ALL. Fuck them.

    Damn, I feel pissy today.

  10. FTA:
    “The free marijuana joints handout is the worst type of political stunt for the campaign,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, sponsor of the legislation. “We are over here feverishly working on public safety and robust regulations to prevent marijuana from getting into the hands of the wrong people.”

    Do politicians have a cliche training class? Its like the old Bull Durham deal: “Okay, Meat, listen up, we’re going to work on your fearmongering skills. Write this down: ‘public safety’, ‘prevent [demonized thing] from falling into the wrong hands’, ‘robust (or commonsense) regulations’.”

    1. Well, yeah. It’s called “politics”. These people aren’t rocket scientists. Politics discourages intelligence (other than a certain low cunning–thank you Tywin Lannister), it discourages competency, and it discourages honesty, because anyone who exhibits those traits is going to get screwed as they won’t be rewarded for them. And unintelligent, incompetent people are going to ape the phrases and fearmongering that they’ve seen before because it worked.

      1. They are ill-made, spiteful little creatures, aren’t they?

        1. Well, of course. Look at Waxman and tell me he didn’t go into politics to get back at…everyone who isn’t a horrific bestial mole man with nostrils that can drive you insane if you gaze into them too long. I have a suspicion that Waxman’s nostrils are a gateway to the Dead Plateau and the Sleeper in the Pyramid.

          1. Hey, that’s my representative you’re talking about!

            Unless you plan on eating his heart and stealing his mole-powers I suggest you shut your damn mouth (lest he sense the vibrations of your thoughts and come for you).

            True story: the entire district was dropped into his sinkhole, mole-man lair right before the election. The lamestream media has been working a cover up ever since.

      2. Yes, but dumber than the average baseball player is like… How do they manage to ape higher brain function?

      3. Politics is all about manipulating people.


    1. It is here:

          1. Your name befits you, UnCivilServant.

            1. I figured I shouldn’t try to misrepresent myself. That usually ends badly.

          2. Wow, BrettL’ed and SF’ed. You really do suck, UCS.

  12. I was at the store the other day and DARE representatives were outside begging for money to sponsor DARE programs. Now with more anti-bullying message.

    It warmed the cockles of the lump of obsidian that passes for my heart to see the once great DARE hat in hand begging like a hobo.

    1. What, no scathing commentary to the delused bastard about how they’ve been doing more harm than good?

    2. Did you say “fuck off, prohibitionist” to them? I would have.

      1. I keep it polite with the people agitating outside Fresh & Easy. The massive union thugs who were there to intimidate the middle class white women when the store first opened were actually reasonably pleasant people as long as you didn’t make direct eye contact.

        The DARE guy had an Edward James Olmos level of hard-lived look to him. I didn’t feel the need to be shanked.

        1. It’s shank or be shanked, jesse.

          1. Whatever, Epi, not even you would mouth off to someone with Edward James Olmos face.

        2. “Fresh & Easy” sounds like a kit for a self-installed bidet system.

    3. I’m hoping McGruff has to turn tricks in alleys.

  13. OT: conservative assault on Rand Paul at AmSpec:…..answer-for

    Pull quote: “[Alex] Jones is to Senator Paul what the Reverend Wright was to Barack Obama”

    Fortunately most of the responses rip the author.

    1. Is the artwork at a persistent URL? I’d like to send people to http://sphotos-b-lga.xx.fbcdn……/s720x720/


      1234487_720144144669443_242361841_n.png so I don’t have to steal it to share it. Kudos. But I can’t make out your signature. Do you also do artwork for other people?

  14. damm, those prices are nuts. Here in BC, Canada I can get the highest quality for C$200 an oz. (less if buying in larger quantities such as $700 for a QP or if buying smaller quantities $30 an eighth (3.5g)

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