Five states are deciding whether to legalize marijuana for adults this election. But there are some pot smokers in those states who are voting against these measures. They feel like medical/decrim is good enough. They complain it’s not True Legalization™ since there will still be some marijuana crimes. They predict taxes and regulations that ultimately raise prices and increase arrests. They insist that better legalization is just around the corner in the next election cycle.
Based on the results of legalization in four states already, what can we tell those tokers about the future of marijuana in their state under legalization? What will convince them to vote in their own best interest and support marijuana legalization on the ballot in California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine? Here are three compelling reasons for pot smokers to vote yes on legalization:
Cheaper Marijuana Prices than Medical or Decrim
Oregon’s BDS Analytics just released their report on the first six months of legal marijuana sales in Oregon. They report retail marijuana prices averaging $9.33 per gram (about $265 per ounce), with a 25 percent tax included.
Washington’s BOTEC Analysis tracks the retail marijuana market there and finds the average retail price of marijuana to be close to the $9 per gram mark (about $255 per ounce), with a 37 percent tax included. That has declined over the past year from about $12 per gram as Washington’s market corrected supply issues.
In Colorado, BDS Analytics reports average retail marijuana prices as low as $6.67 per gram ($189 oz) in April, with 4/20 specials as low as $5.77 per gram ($164 oz). That’s down from $8.86 per gram when legal sales in Colorado began.
For comparison’s sake:
- California’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, Harborside Health Center in Oakland, has marijuana listed at $14 – $17 per gram ($397 – $483 oz).
- Arizona’s Phoenix Relief Center has prices of $10 – $12 per gram ($280 – $341 oz).
- Nevada’s Essence Cannabis Dispensary offers marijuana at $15 – $18 per gram ($426 – $511 oz).
- Dispensaries in Massachusetts and Maine don’t list their prices, but the latest reports on PriceofWeed.com claim street prices between $260 and $339 an ounce.
Retired K-9’s and fewer probable cause excuses = fewer busts for remaining crimes
You cannot un-train a dog from alerting to the smell of marijuana. Once marijuana was legalized, police in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Alaska had to retire their pot-sniffing K-9s. A dog cannot detect the difference between a legal gram of marijuana and an illegal pound of marijuana, so their alert to the smell of pot doesn’t indicate a crime is being committed.
Even if the dog is trained to alert on cocaine, meth, and heroin, it’s useless to cops, because a savvy drug dealer could just keep a gram of legal marijuana stowed with his illegal drug stash. If the dog alerts on the drugs, the dealer’s defense attorney will get that evidence dismissed because the dog can’t indicate whether it sniffed illegal drugs or legal marijuana.
Legalization also removes from the police their favorite method of bypassing your protections against unreasonable search and seizure – the claim that they can smell marijuana. When pot is illegal, any evidence of it by sight or smell is a reason for a cop to begin the investigation into your potential criminal behavior. Medical marijuana and decriminalization do not change that*.
With the elimination of most probable cause based on weed evidence, charges for the remaining marijuana crimes in the legal states plummet, such as possessing too much marijuana, growing too many plants, trafficking and selling without a license, etc. In Colorado, charges for all marijuana crimes dropped 80 percent. In Washington, they dropped 63 percent (presumably because they have no home grow and grow evidence is still probable cause).
With legalization comes a flood of new businesses that need employees with a background in cannabis. From the grows to the processors to the testers to the retailers, there will be hundreds or thousands of new jobs from employers who are unlikely to require pre-employment urine screening.
There are also even more jobs to be found in the ancillary industries that spring up to service the plant-touching parts of the industry, from packaging to tourism to software to media. These employers also will be more likely to offer non-drug-tested jobs.
Even the employers who are currently drug testing potential workers will begin to feel the incentive to drop drug testing as they keep losing the best talent to the marijuana industry and can’t find any workers who’ll pass their intrusive whiz quiz.
It should be a no-brainer for a pot smoker to vote “YES” on marijuana legalization. But for those lacking a brain, perhaps cheaper weed, retired drug dogs, and better jobs will convince them.
* Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court ruled recently that their decriminalization pre-empts the “I smell pot” excuse by cops, but only for “unburnt marijuana”.