Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘marijuana’

Paternalists push potent pot proscription

Posted by Richard on April 1, 2016

The folks who fought against legal marijuana in Colorado have been fighting rear-guard actions ever since they lost at the polls, pushing local bans on pot shops, ever tighter restrictions on edibles, etc. Their latest effort involves the old “today’s marijuana is much more dangerous than the stuff you boomers smoked in college” argument:

A proposed ballot initiative and an amendment to a bill in the state House would cap the THC potency of recreational cannabis and marijuana products at a percentage below most of those products’ current averages.

The initiative would limit the potency of “marijuana and marijuana products” to 15 percent or 16 percent THC.

The average potency of Colorado pot products is already higher — 17.1 percent for cannabis flower and 62.1 percent for marijuana extracts, according to a state study.

Supporters of the legislation, introduced byRepublican state Rep. Kathleen Conti, say they’re being cautious until more research has been done and protecting the brain development of adolescents. But opponents say the measures are unreasonable and could squash some of the legal cannabis industry’s most popular categories.

“All the studies that have been done on THC levels have been done on THC levels between 2 and 8 percent,” said Conti, whose district encompasses parts of Greenwood Village and Littleton. “Most of the marijuana coming in now, the flowers are being rated at a THC count of about 17 percent on average, so this is dramatically over, and we really don’t know that we’ve gotten the true feel on the health risks associated with that marijuana.”

Let’s apply the same silly argument to another popular intoxicant. The alcohol content by volume (ABV) of the average mass-produced American lager beer is between 4 and 5 percent. The ABV of beers sold in grocery stores is capped at 3.2% (yes, Colorado still clings to that silly restriction). But more and more people are turning to tastier craft beers, and those often have an ABV of 7, 8, or even 10 percent and higher. And who knows what additional risks beer drinkers are taking when they switch from Coors Light to a Double IPA or (horrors!) a barleywine ale? Especially the adolescents. We should cap beer potency at 5% ABV. It’s for the children! (Never mind that it’s already illegal for adolescents to use either alcohol or pot.)

And OMG, what about distilled spirits? Someone who’s used to quaffing a pint or three of 5% ABV beer may not realize the danger of downing a pint or three of 90 proof (45% ABV) bourbon!

Of course, this is nonsense. Except for a small minority with no self-control (many of whom live under a bridge), people imbibe and smoke until they reach a comfortable level of inebriation and then stop. If they’re drinking Coors Light (or smoking 8% THC pot), they drink (smoke) more; if they’re drinking Upslope Imperial IPA (or smoking Purple Lady), they drink (smoke) less. If they’re drinking Bulleit (or vaping a concentrate), they drink (vape) much less.

Limit the THC content of legal marijuana, and users will burn more vegetable matter to achieve the same high, which is bad for their lungs. (Or they’ll switch to black market pot; anyone see an opportunity for a Baptists-and-bootleggers alliance here?)

But then, the puritans secretly believe that pursuers of such sybaritic pleasures deserve to be punished/harmed by them. That’s why it’s illegal for brewers and distillers to add B vitamins to their products, which would significantly reduce the incidence of liver damage among heavy drinkers.

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CO state gov’t profligacy may trigger pot tax refund

Posted by Richard on March 21, 2014

Marijuana legalization is looking better and better. The Colorado legislature, salivating over the prospect of more revenue, imposed high taxes on pot sales. Partly due to that and partly due to improvement in the Colorado economy, state government has lots of money to spend and is eagerly spending it. Good news for pols and their cronies, bad news for the rest of us.

Fortunately, Colorado voters many years ago enacted a constitutional amendment called the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR). Among other things, it limits annual spending growth — unless voters approve of excess spending in a referendum vote, the excess revenue must be refunded to taxpayers. To the Denver Post, this is a troubling prospect:

Colorado voters approved the sale of legal marijuana thinking the revenues derived would go towards areas like schools or treatment for substance abuse. Instead, it’s possible that the money may be returned to them.

A Tuesday economic forecast from the state’s Legislative Council said that state spending is trending higher than previously estimated. If that holds true, under TABOR statutes, the higher spending could trigger a one-year refund on any new sources of revenue — like the taxes on marijuana.

The Post reporter, Anthony Cotton, managed to find both Democrat and Republican legislators who share the Post’s dim view of TABOR and believe there should be no limit on how much of our money the government can seize:

“The idea of having to issue a refund or going back to voters hat in hand is disappointing,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, the vice-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, which hosted the briefing.

“The more I learn about TABOR the less I like it and the more insidious I think it is to state government,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen.

Apparently, the Post couldn’t locate any legislators who disagree with this desire for unconstrained government. I know there are some — but I guess the Post doesn’t have contact information for those kinds of folks.

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Marketing genius

Posted by Richard on February 22, 2014

Here’s an example of entrepreneurship at its finest:

Looking to drum up some new business, 13-year-old Girl Scout Danielle Lei and her mom set out for a San Francisco medical marijuana clinic on Monday, armed with boxes of Tagalongs, Dulce de Leches and other cookie varieties she and other scouts sell annually.

Any patients at The Green Cross with the munchies didn’t stand a chance. In two hours on President’s Day, Danielle sold 117 boxes outside the clinic — people gobbled up all her Dulce de Leches and blazed through the Tagalongs. According to her mother, Carol, that’s 37 more boxes than what she sold during the same two-hour period outside a small Safeway the next day.

Girl-Scouts-at-TGC-3

The Green Cross was on board as soon as Carol called to ask for permission to sell cookies outside, and employees at the clinic bought plenty of cookies themselves, too.

“It’s no secret that cannabis is a powerful appetite stimulant, so we knew this would be a very beneficial endeavor for the girls,” Holli Bert, a staff member at The Green Cross, told Mashable in an email. “It’s all about location, and what better place to sell Girl Scout cookies than outside a medical cannabis collective?”

The Green Cross dispensary posted this on their Facebook page:

1236535_744046672280618_1933922103_n

The Girl Scouts organization in California apparently has no problem with selling cookies in front of pot shops. The Colorado Girl Scouts organization, on the other hand, is a lot more uptight:

The photo circulating of Colo Girl Scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies in front of a marijuana shop is a hoax.

— Girl Scouts of Colo. (@GSColo) February 12, 2014

Consistent with our policy for many years now, @GSColo doesn’t allow girls to sell cookies outside of any adult-oriented business…

— Girl Scouts of Colo. (@GSColo) February 21, 2014

 …this includes bars, strip clubs, casinos, liquor stores or marijuana dispensaries.

— Girl Scouts of Colo. (@GSColo) February 21, 2014

…We recognize these are legitimate businesses, but we don’t feel they are an appropriate place for girls to be selling cookies in Colo.

— Girl Scouts of Colo. (@GSColo) February 21, 2014

What a buzz-kill. :-;

There are, however, ways for an enterprising Girl Scout to get around this narrow-minded restriction. For instance, the Evergreen Apothecary, a popular pot shop on South Broadway a few blocks from my house, is adjacent to an insurance agency (see the street view at this Google map). It might be possible to get permission to sell cookies in front of their office. And I’m sure the Girl Scouts organization has nothing against insurance agencies. Just an idea…

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Don’t bogart that joint, Tom, pass it over to me

Posted by Richard on January 23, 2013

Tom Tancredo, vilified by the left as a far-right Neanderthal, has always been more libertarian than either he or most libertarians will admit. Last fall, he endorsed Amendment 64 (marijuana legalization, which passed in Colorado by a decisive 55-45 margin) in no uncertain terms:

Exactly 80 years ago, the people of this great state passed a ballot initiative declaring an end to the misguided big-government policy experiment that was alcohol prohibition. One year later, the federal government followed.

This November, the voters of Colorado have the opportunity to repeat history.

I am endorsing Amendment 64 not despite my conservative beliefs, but because of them.

Throughout my career in public policy and in public office, I have fought to reform or eliminate wasteful and ineffective government programs. There is no government program or policy I can think of that has failed in such a unique way as marijuana prohibition.

Our nation is spending tens of billions of dollars annually in an attempt to prohibit adults from using a substance objectively less harmful than alcohol.

Yet marijuana is still widely available in our society. We are not preventing its use; we are merely ensuring that all of the profits from the sale of marijuana (outside the medical marijuana system) flow to the criminal underground.

Marijuana prohibition is perhaps the oldest and most persistent nanny-state law we have in the U.S. We simply cannot afford a government that tries to save people from themselves. It is not the role of government to try to correct bad behavior, as long as those behaviors are not directly causing physical harm to others.

To be clear, I do not consider marijuana use a good thing for society. I have never used marijuana personally and do not encourage others to indulge. But as the son of a violent alcoholic, I know enough to appreciate that it is irrational to have laws in place that allow the use of alcohol, yet punish adults who choose to use a less harmful and less dangerous substance.

It was an important and influential endorsement, and it no doubt helped Amendment 64 pass in some of the most conservative areas of the state, like El Paso county (Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family).

Now that it’s passed, Tancredo is apparently going to take yet another daring step:

In a promotional video for a new documentary on the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, Congressman Tom Tancredo went even further than just speaking out in favor of marijuana legalization — he agrees to smoke marijuana with the film’s creator, comedian Adam Hartle.

Near the end of the 10-minute trailer for the documentary (at 9:21), Hartle asks Tancredo, “True or false, when Amendment 64 passes and marijuana is legal, the next time I’m out in Colorado, we’re going to smoke a joint together.”

To which a wide-eyed Tancredo responds simply: “Deal.”

Hey, Tom, remember me? You spoke at several Libertarian Party events when I was Denver LP chair and state LP board member. We had some nice conversations. I’d really like to join you and Adam Hartle for this upcoming event. I suspect it would be the highlight of my year to be able to say, “I smoked a joint with Tom Tancredo.” What do you say? 🙂

UPDATE: Tom, if you’re nervous about your first pot experience (understandable), I highly recommend that you read the 1969 classic A Child’s Garden of Grass and/or listen to the 1971 album version of that book. Especially the latter. And use either headphones or a good audio system, not the cheap-ass speakers that came with your PC. 🙂

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Will wonders never cease? Good bipartisanship!

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2012

Unlike the media talking heads and beltway pundits, I’m not a fan of bipartisanship. Usually, when members of the Stupid Party and the Evil Party join forces, the result is something that’s both stupid and evil. But in Colorado today, we have an example of bipartisanship worth cheering:

DENVER — Congresswoman Diana DeGette Friday formally introduced legislation in Congress aimed at resolving the uncertainty around states legalizing marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level.

DeGette, a Denver Democrat, joined with Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman and other Republicans to introduce the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act”, which would exempt states where lawmakers or voters have legalized marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies the drug as a controlled substance.

Three cheers for DeGette, Coffman, and the colleagues who are joining them.

The passage of Amendment 64 is bringing the unlikeliest people together in support of the Tenth Amendment and is adding a whole new aspect to the concept of nullification.

BTW, I’m pretty certain that this is the first time I’ve ever said anything nice about DeGette, who’s my representative. I once observed that “she’s accomplished the difficult task of making me look back fondly at Pat Schroeder’s time in office.”

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Good news: Amendment 64 passes

Posted by Richard on November 6, 2012

Amidst the bad news for libertarians in Colorado tonight (Obama victory, Democrats retake state house) there was one big piece of good news. Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol, passed with 53% of the vote.

Unfortunately for those of us who could use a “pickup” in the wake of the depressing election results, state criminal penalties for pot possession won’t go away for a couple of months (of course, the federal penalties remain, and the Obama administration has enforced them more aggressively than the Bush administration did). And the first recreational-use pot stores won’t appear until 2014 (for some reason, the existing medicinal marijuana stores won’t be allowed to sell pot for non-medicinal use, which makes no sense to me).

Still, it’s an historic step forward. Now there will be a huge Tenth Amendment issue to be resolved. The Obama administration is already saying that the federal law classifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug supersedes state law (but it’s not just a state statute, remember, it’s now a part of the state constitution). I expect lots of legal battles to come. This would be a good time to support the Tenth Amendment Center.

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New Amendment 64 ad

Posted by Richard on October 19, 2012

On the Channel 7 10pm local news tonight, I saw the latest ad by the Colorado Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, featuring retired Denver cop Tony Ryan. Excellent! Here it is:


[YouTube link]

I know Tony Ryan. He’s one of the most honorable, brave, and decent people I know. I’ve never asked, but I’m willing to bet he’s never smoked pot in his life. And he no longer lives in Colorado. He’s doing this not because there’s any personal benefit, but because it’s the right thing to do. I’m absolutely outraged that Roger Sherman, campaign director of the anti-64 organization, smeared Tony as a “pro-pot rent-a-cop.”

Tony was one of the cops who responded to the Columbine shooting. I was present in the audience the first time he publicly talked about that day. I saw the emotions on his face as he recounted what happened. I trembled and teared up hearing him tell it.

I don’t know who Roger Sherman is, but to me he is vermin for attempting to denigrate a 36-year veteran of the Denver PD with a record of heroism and exemplary community service for political purposes.

If you can spare a few bucks (or a few hundred bucks), make a donation to the Colorado Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol to help keep Tony’s ad on the air. Do it right now. The window for buying air time between now and Nov. 6 is rapidly closing.

BTW, I’ve also heard an excellent radio ad in favor of Amendment 64 by former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo. I can’t find it online, but there’s a YouTube video of him endorsing it at a press conference. And the 700 Club’s Pat Robertson, an evangelical leader of the Christian right, is also “absolutely” in favor of Amendment 64.

If you have any friends in Colorado, especially conservative, “Christian right,” or moderate/muddled/independent friends, share this information with them and urge them to vote for Amendment 64.

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Can legalizing pot save lives?

Posted by Richard on June 25, 2011

Instapundit linked to an article arguing that legalizing pot could save thousands of lives. I've got to run and can't check it out right now, but the first thing that occurs to me is that it would bring the death rate among pot growers and distributors down to about the rate among liquor distillers and distributors.

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Best songs about pot

Posted by Richard on February 3, 2011

Brainz recently posted the "Ten Best Songs About Pot." I think those 20-somethings missed badly. Any list of best pot songs that doesn't include "Panama Red" by the New Riders of the Purple Sage is just not credible. Here, judge for yourself — compare this to the entries on their list:


[YouTube link]

That ought to be in the top 3, IMHO.

And, from the same band, there's "Henry" (check out the awesome pedal steel guitar by Buddy Cage):

 Here's another glaring omission from their list: John Prine's "Illegal Smile":


[YouTube link]

If that doesn't make you sing along, there's something wrong with you.

I could continue, with Arlo Guthrie, Neil Young, Commander Cody, etc. But I'll stop now and ask: What are your favorite pot songs? 

UPDATE: Jeez, I almost forgot the New Riders' "Lonesome L.A. Cowboy." I'm sure I'm not the only member of my generation who, more than once, belted this one out at the top of our lungs. Awesome pedal steel. Enjoy!


[YouTube video ]

And I should note that NRPS founder John "Marmaduke" Dawson passed away in 2009. Such a shame.

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Colorado governor’s race gets interesting — and I switch candidates

Posted by Richard on October 23, 2010

I caught the tail end of a live debate among Colorado's top three gubernatorial candidates on KDVR tonight. For those of you not in Colorado (or not paying attention), the candidates are:

  • Dan Maes, a political neophyte with lots of baggage. He's a conservative Republican.
  • John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver. He's a liberal Democrat who talks about "social justice."
  • Tom Tancredo, former Republican Congressman. He's the American Constitution Party candidate, and generally described as very conservative (a "right-wing extremist" according to his critics). 

When asked about marijuana, two of those candidates trotted out all the tired old anti-marijuana myths and scare stories and took a hard-line pro-drug-war stance. The other one forcefully argued that marijuana prohibition was a failure and unequivocally supported legalization. Can you guess which candidates embraced the "reefer madness" rhetoric and which was the enlightened, reasonable, and tolerant one? 

Yep, it was the "right-wing extremist" Tancredo who supported a sane approach to pot. Maes and Hickenlooper both sounded like every lame ONDCP ad you've ever seen.

A few months ago, when it became clear that Maes was a deeply flawed candidate and Tancredo jumped into the race, everyone — absolutely everyone — assumed that the race was over, and that Hickenlooper would cruise to an easy victory.

Surprise! The latest independent poll shows a statistical tie: Hickenlooper 44%, Tancredo 43%, Maes 9%. (If Maes gets less than 10% in the election, the GOP becomes a minor party under Colorado law.)

And that poll was taken before Michael Sandoval unearthed a Hickenlooper quote that's gotten a lot of negative attention. The mayor, responding to a question about why the Matthew Shepard Foundation was locating in Colorado instead of Wyoming, said (emphasis added): 

I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.

According to Kelly Maher, the mayor's campaign suffers from an enthusiasm gap (and Hickenlooper himself has lamented his small crowds), while Tancredo events are "wall-to-wall packed" and full of "political energy." Tancredo seems to be surging and may peak at just the right time. If so, he could make history — a Tancredo victory would be perhaps the most stunning event in a year full of surprising political events.

If Tancredo falls short, people can point to Maes as the "spoiler," and for a change we can accuse the die-hard Republicans who voted for him of "wasting their vote" and "helping the Democrat win" — accusations they've hurled at Libertarians in the past. Oh, the delicious irony…

Me? I'd planned to vote for Libertarian Jaimes Brown, but with the race this tight, I've changed my mind. I'm going to support Tancredo. I know him somewhat — he used to speak at Denver LP meetings back when I was active in the party, and we bumped into each other at other liberty-related activities from time to time. I think he's sincere, principled, articulate, and funny. Not at all the angry right-wing ogre some people paint him as. And he definitely has a libertarian streak.

I'm inclined to agree with Rossputin, who explained why he, who wouldn't support McCain, is supporting Tancredo:

First, I believe Tancredo is much more principled than John McCain. I believe he’s a real conservative and, more importantly for me, I believe he has a libertarian streak in there somewhere.  While I’ve said repeatedly that I have a big problem with Tanc’s views on immigration, especially legal immigration, I’m hard pressed to find validity in the argument of some that I should not vote for Tancredo for an office which will have precisely zero impact on legal immigration policy, but which has huge impact on how the state of Colorado will spend its money and tax its citizens.

Second, I was OK not supporting McCain and knowing that was effectively a vote for Obama because my belief was that people need to learn what “Progressivism” really is, who “Progressives” really are – namely dictatorial haters of liberty who think that everyone but them is stupid – in order to finally rebel against it.  It was the “boiling the frog” story; McCain and Obama would both keep us on the path to big government, it’s just that Obama would drive the road so fast that it would scare the passengers whereas McCain would make our ride to our own economic death much more pleasant for the average American and therefore much more likely to be completed.

But Americans have learned that lesson (at least for a little while) and I don’t need a leftist Governor of Colorado to add an extra helping of watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside) to the shit sandwich that is our federal government.  There is no important additional valuable lesson to be learned by electing Hickenlooper.  There is only pain and damage for the state.

Tancredo for Governor. Let's make history! 

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