High Times’ Cannabis Consumer Choice Polling

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 27, 2014

    majority_supportOur friends at High Times (and former NORML director Dr. Jon Gettman) are running an online poll asking for consumers’ choice regarding the preferred marijuana distribution that emerges post-prohibition.

    Legal Marijuana: Which Market Do You Prefer?
    As we approach the new inevitability of legalized cannabis, three models have been proposed for a national marijuana market.
    By Jon Gettman

    In the past, the goal of marijuana legalization was simple: to bring about the end of federal prohibition and allow adults to use the plant without threat of prosecution and imprisonment. But now that legalization is getting serious attention, it’s time to examine how a legal marijuana market should operate in the United States.

    Below are descriptions of the three kinds of legal markets that have emerged from various discussions on the subject. We would like to know which one you prefer.

    First, though, let’s touch on a few characteristics that all of these proposals share. In each one, the market has a minimum age for legal use, likely the same as the current age limits for alcohol and tobacco. In each of these legal markets, there will be penalties for driving while intoxicated, just as with alcohol use. You can also assume that there will be guaranteed legal access to marijuana for medical use by anyone, regardless of age, with a physician’s authorization. The last characteristic shared by all three mar- kets is that there will be no criminal penalties for the adult possession and use of marijuana.

    Proposal #1:
    Government-Run Monopoly
    Under this approach, there would be no commercial marijuana market allowed. Marijuana would be grown and processed for sale under government contracts, supervised and/or managed by a large, government-chartered nonprofit organization. Marijuana would be sold in state-run retail outlets (similar to the state-run stores that have a monopoly on liquor sales in places like Mississippi, Montana and Vermont, among others), where the sales personnel will be trained to provide accurate information about cannabis and its effects. Products like edibles and marijuana-infused liquids with fruity flavors would be banned out of a concern that they can encourage minors to try the drug. There would be no advertising or marketing allowed, and no corporate or business prof- its. Instead, the revenue earned from sales would pay for production costs and the operation of the state control organization; the rest of the profits would go to government-run treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. Regulations would be enforced by criminal sanctions and traditional law enforcement (local, state and federal police). No personal marijuana cultivation would be allowed. The price of marijuana would remain at or near current levels in order to discourage underage use.

    Proposal #2:
    Limited Commercial Market
    Under this approach, the cultivation, processing and retail sale of marijuana would be conducted by private companies operating under a limited number of licenses issued by the federal government. Advertising and marketing would be allowed, but they would be regulated similar to the provisions governing alcohol and tobacco promotion. Taxation would be used to keep prices at or near current levels in order to discourage underage use. Corporate profits would be allowed, and tax revenues would be used to fund treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. Regulations would be enforced by criminal sanctions and traditional law enforcement (local, state and federal police). No personal marijuana cultivation would be allowed.

    Proposal #3:
    Regulated Free Market
    Under this approach, entrepreneurs would have open access to any part of the marijuana market. Cultivation, processing and retail operations could be legally undertaken by anyone willing to bear the risks of investment and competition. Advertising and marketing would be allowed, but they would be regulated similar to the provisions governing alcohol and tobacco promotion. Prices would be determined by supply and demand, with taxation set at modest levels similar to current taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling. (These vary widely from state to state, but assume that under this model, the price of marijuana would be substantially lower than it is in the current market.)

    Also, home cultivation would be allowed. Licenses may be required for any sort of cultivation, but these would be for registration purposes only and subject to nominal fees based on the number of plants involved. Individuals and corporations would be allowed to make whatever profits they can through competition. Tax revenues would fund treatment, prevention, education and enforcement programs. Competition and market forces would structure the market rather than licenses or government edicts, and regulatory agencies rather than law enforcement would supervise market activity.

    A Different Approach
    There are two key issues when it comes to deciding among these proposals. First, should the price of marijuana be kept high through government intervention in order to discourage underage use as well as abuse? Second, does commercialization translate into corporate money being spent to convince teenagers to use marijuana? Many of the proposals for how a legal market should operate are based on assumptions about these two issues, which leads to recommendations that the government must, one way or another, direct and control the marijuana market.

    Obviously, the first two proposals outlined above reflect those very concerns. The third takes a different approach, in which marijuana is treated like similar psychoactive commodities, and the public relies on education, prevention and age limits to discourage underage use as well as abuse.

    We want to know what type of legal marijuana market you prefer. Please take part in our poll on the HIGH TIMES website.

    69 responses to “High Times’ Cannabis Consumer Choice Polling”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      I saw that seedy, twiggy stuff that outfit in Mississippi was producing for scientific research. NO GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY!

      I vote for the 3rd option.

      I do believe that as the noble weed enters the mainstream, everyone will eventually realize it’s not in the same realm as nicotine and alcohol when it comes to the damage done.

    2. Don B. says:

      I’ll go along with #3, but drop registering, licensing and charging a fee for non-commercial home growing until home beer brewing, wine making and tobacco growing are subject to the same oversight.

      Many (most?)folks will not bother to register with the state, and it will be difficult to enforce such laws.

    3. Cupishere says:

      I think legalized marijuana in the USA should follow these three principles. Any plan that strays from these concepts should be dismissed.

      1 – The absolute right for individuals over the age of 21 to grow, process, and consume marijuana – without any restrictions whatsoever – on their own property. This means no limits on how many plants they can grow, how much marijuana they can possess, or how they process it before PERSONAL consumption.

      2 -The concept that marijuana, since it less harmful and dangerous than alcohol, should never be prohibited to a greater extent. This means pot should be sold at any liqour store where high alcohol content beverages are allowed. Also, if a person is allowed to carry unlimited amounts of alcohol from location “a” to “b” that the same person should be allowed to buy or purchase a similar quantity of marijuana and transport it. For example, if someone can buy 50 cases of beer they should be allowed to buy a pound of pot.

      3 – Taxes on pot should never be more than the equivalent on beer or cigarettes, if any “sin” tax is imposed at all. And it should only be imposed once: either in manufacture, distribution, or point of sale.

    4. mexweed says:

      The issues of “regulation” and “underage use” should be addressed differently than anywhere described in the three proposals above.

      1. The “regulation” needed is of the means (and equipment) used to ingest the product: promote VAPING instead of H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide “smoking”; promote 25-mg Single Toke portions (as in a flexible-drawtube screened one-hitter) instead of the 500-mg joint; eventually also substitute cannabis and 167 other safer herbs for 6,000,000-deaths-a-year tobacco.

      If there is a tax on sales of herbal cannabis, it should be used to subsidize Sebsis*, i.e. to create manufacturing jobs in high-unemployment countries producing several billion long-stemmed one-hitters (to be used not only by the several hundred million cannabis users but by the 1.2 billion addicts worldwide currently using toxic tobacco in hot burning overdose $igarette format).

      2. Rather than simply decree “no underage use”, the safest long-term solution is to make every underage person One-Hit Literate, i.e. immune to ever wanting to splurge-puff away a 500-mg joint in minutes, as many now surreptitiously do (under prohibition, a joint is EASIER TO HIDE than a vaporizer), because the behavior adventures from a 25-mg single vape toke (minus the mind-numbing monoxide) are so much More Interesting.

      Tax revenues from herbal cannabis sales accordingly should be invested in one-hit training opportunity for everyone of all ages, along with instruction in making the equipment as mentioned above.

    5. Dave Evans says:

      What is the problem with our government??? Is it staffed by an unending line of Control Freaks? Proposals 1 and 2 are literally just stupid ideas.

      How about the government start running the FDA again, since that one of their jobs??? Right now, the FDA is being run by private companies more so than it is being run by the government.

      Either of these two really bad ideas could end up with a new Big Tobacco which laces our marijuana with poisons for profit, they will probably find some kind of addictive material to dope marijuana cigarettes with. The government will not stop them from doing this evil shit to cigarettes, why would we ever suspect the same group that allows poisoning via tobacco would not support poisoning people via marijuana?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    6. jonas m says:

      #3 Here also. I also agree with Don B. It’s only fair.

    7. mexweed says:

      * See Wikipedia: Sebsi– a Moroccan long-stemmed one-hitter– with illustration. A flexible drawtube may be substitute for a better view of the vape toke procedure

    8. don wilson says:

      i like the third less goverment is always better

    9. Phil says:

      I would definitely choose #3 for sure. It would be the most beneficial to the country by far.

    10. Barrie A says:

      #3, without a doubt! A regulated free market, just like with alcohol, will produce the best quality with price competition. No govt monopoly–ugh.