Packed Hearing on New Pot Law
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Packed Hearing on New Pot Law
Posted by CN Staff on January 25, 2013 at 06:28:31 PT
By Bob Young, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Washington State -- They came in suits and cowboy hats, with cropped gray hair and long ponytails, and they filled one room at Seattle City Hall and spilled into another, about 400 strong. Some had waited decades for an event like this. Some thought they’d never see it. They were there to express views about the state’s new legal-marijuana law enacted last fall by Initiative 502. “Wow, there’s one heckuva lot of interest in 502,” said Sharon Foster, chair of the Washington state Liquor Control Board, the agency charged with implementing the new law. The crowd had started lining up three hours before the event.
Foster told audience members if they kept their remarks to two minutes they’d get a “brownie point.” That prompted several in the crowd to giddily ask, “What kind of brownie?” Chris Marr, another liquor-board member, said, “When I was watching Cream at the Fillmore many years ago, I never envisioned this.” The second of six statewide forums on legal marijuana, this was part rally, part policy conference. Growers, breeders, sellers and advocates came out to push a variety of platforms. Some wanted the system to allow smaller growers. Others stressed the need for bigger breeding operations. Some begged to be taxed. Others said the law’s high taxes would drive customers to the black market. Kevin Oliver, executive director of Washington NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), was one of the first to speak. “Indeed the whole world is watching,” Oliver said, noting he’d been interviewed by a popular French TV show before the forum. Wearing a suit adorned with a gold pot leaf, Oliver first suggested the liquor board add “cannabis” to its name, which drew huge applause. He went on to call for both big and small growers. “Think Budweiser and microbrews,” he said. John Eskola said he represented several small medical-marijuana growers. “We need to be part of it. This is a very emotional thing for me. The war is over. We won. Don’t punish us, take our money.” Lobbyist Phil Wayt said the group he represented wants the state to follow the craft-beer model where there is no limit on the number of producers and processors. Philip Dawdy of the Washington Cannabis Association warned that taxes are too high. They are set at 25 percent of the selling price at three different junctures in the growing-to-sales process. “You have to beat the black market in price. I don’t think you can do that with the 502 tax structure,” he said. The most insightful comment, though, might have come from Sam Dodge when he told liquor-board members, “for you to figure out how to serve cannabis customers is the steepest learning curve I’ve seen.” Washington’s new law, which allows those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of pot, must be implemented by December. In theory, adults will then be able to walk into stores around the state and buy locally grown pot that is licensed, taxed and regulated by the state. Early state estimates put retail prices at about $12 a gram. And stores will sell about 187,000 pounds of weed a year, the state figures, which would suddenly give the state a new $2 billion industry. The new law calls for a seed-to-store closed marijuana market. No model exists for such a system. Inundated with questions and opinions, the board decided it needed to go to the public on the issue. And, lacking in weed expertise, the agency is soliciting help from private consultants in areas such as product standards and consumption validation. Consumption estimates are crucial for the state in determining how big the system should be, how many growers it will need, and how many plants each will need to produce. Estimating consumption is also fraught with political and legal issues, especially concerning the federal government, which bans all marijuana, and doesn’t want to see Washington’s legal pot leaking into other states. “Everything flows from consumption,” said Foster in an interview before the forum. “We don’t want to overgrow because then it may go out of state; and we don’t want to undergrow because then the black market flourishes.” In a news conference Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee said he wants a digital tracking system to insure that legal marijuana isn’t slipping into the black market. Once the liquor board has a grasp on the size of the market, it will move to questions such as the number of licensed growers. Some issues remain vexing. Now, merchants in the state’s legal medical marijuana business face one daunting obstacle: They can’t establish bank accounts because the federal government won’t insure banking with marijuana businesses. “That is a huge outstanding issue,” said agency head Pat Kohler. Foster vowed the liquor board — or liquor-and-cannabis board — will have a tightly controlled system in place as mandated by Initiative 502. “We will be the first state in the world to adopt a licensed, regulated, disciplined, distribution market, I think in world history,” Inslee said.Seattle Times staff reporter Andrew Garber contributed to this report. Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Bob Young, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: January 24, 2013Copyright: 2013 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis  Archives 
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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on January 26, 2013 at 23:07:24 PT
Like Washington Canada Plans to Nix Personal Grows
Canada: OPED: They Grow Pot Because They Have To. Don't Punish, Globe and Mail, (23 Jan 2013) discussion of possible prices.
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Comment #11 posted by gloovins on January 26, 2013 at 14:26:35 PT
99 cents per OZ or Gram?
A 1 oz bag of dried oregano at the 99 cent store is 99 cents. And I am presuming they make money off this, so, how is cannabis any different in terms of plant matter? It's more in demand, more taxed? Guess so but if they can sell 1 oz of oregano like this and make $, I think they can with cannabis. I think it will be like a six pack of beer or bottle of wine, an ounce of top-shelf herb. You can go to Trader Joe's here and get a 6-pack of Old Timers ale for like $3.49 plus sales tax or specialty beer for approx. $9/6-pk. Or a 2 buck chuck bottle of wine or a $20 bottle of. $12/gram is insane and I think it would only be this much to simply gouge the consumer & fatten the sellers bank acct. Will it be THAT taxed under the Wash law? Dunno. Now, you can also get a gram of shake here and certain lower grade medical cannabis strains for $5/gram in L.A. Heck, you can get $40 half oz's now of ok med cannabis - that's $2.85/gram. Now, if you bring the corporations/mass growers in, they will be able to get this down to PENNIES per gram for even the best strains in the world. This is true. I wonder how long before this happens? Will it be 99 cents per OUNCE or GRAM approximately? This is the question I believe. Hmmm, I like these sort of questions, I do. My mind says hope for 99 cents an ounce but my intellect says no way, it's gonna be AT LEAST 99 cents per gram. However, this sort of very real, very democratic dialogue has been a long time coming, that's for sure. I sure am glad sanity/progress finally is winning in at least Washington & Colorado. Indeed.
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on January 26, 2013 at 10:06:39 PT
There's tax
and then there's government robbing the people.
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on January 26, 2013 at 09:32:42 PT
this state
I don't see a problem with a wholesale excise tax - if that's the only one.In this state we tax alcohol once - an excise tax on wholesalers. The govt. tried to start charging sales tax at the retail level a few years ago. Activists were able to get a referendum on to repeal the new sales tax and voters approved it.And if there is an excise tax on cannabis, it should be reasonable, 5-10%, like sales tax on everything else.All these media stories talk about cannabis like this state program is the only source.  Reality is that thousands of small-to-large scale growers have been operating in Washington for decades, and will continue to operate. Taxes MUST be set low enough to convert the black market to legal. This law is like adding a new mafia organization to compete with the existing ones.And with a 100% tax, the underground's business is ensured for years. We must remove cannabis as a law-enforcement industry.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on January 26, 2013 at 05:59:30 PT
I know when we were in the video business the movies weren't taxed that we had to buy. Tax was charged when a person in our store bought or rented a movie. The grower (wholesaler) shouldn't have to pay any tax just the retailer.
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Comment #7 posted by Relfving on January 25, 2013 at 21:00:44 PT:
Price Will Be Too Because of too Much Tax
There should be only one tax and not three. It should be taxed like regular sales tax but at a higher rate only when it is bought at the dealers desk by the consumer.
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Comment #6 posted by Canis420 on January 25, 2013 at 19:57:58 PT:
I agree. But it is taxed 3 times before the consumer gets his hands on it. Taxed when the grower sells it to the broker, taxed when the broker sells it to the distributer, and taxed again when it is sold to the consumer. They are keeping supply limited so that there is not enough to go to other non-legal states. I think this is gonna back fire on them.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 25, 2013 at 19:04:47 PT
I don't understand why the price would be that high. It doesn't cost much to produce marijuana particularly if it can be grown outside. That's a heck of a profit. It will keep a black market going unless the price drops.
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Comment #4 posted by Canis420 on January 25, 2013 at 18:20:14 PT:
$12 a gram
It says the retail price is 12 bucks a g so must be after tax...too much
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 25, 2013 at 17:59:00 PT
Is that taxed on top of the very high price of $12 a gram?
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Comment #2 posted by Canis420 on January 25, 2013 at 15:32:42 PT:
$12 a gram
I believe the black market can undercut the $12.00 a gram price mentioned in this article. This is way to freakin high especially if they allow huge commercial grows. If I lived there I would not pay this much. I would clandestinely grow my own in a closet. How the hell can they enforce against a small personal grow that is kept quiet? They can't.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 25, 2013 at 07:07:21 PT
There's also a lot of interest in hemp
Letter to the Editor:Colorado Officials Should Take a Serious Look At Hemp FarmingIn rural Western Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Blueprint economic development plan did not succeed, and unemployment, underemployment and foreclosures continue. With the passage of Amendment 64, which allows for the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp, our state representatives can introduce emergency legislation that will allow for hemp to be test planted this spring.Rural Western Colorado desperately needs economic development and livable wage jobs, and industrial hemp offers vast potentials towards that end.Therefore, I implore our state elected officials to introduce emergency legislation that will allow Colorado counties and local governments to fund hemp test plantings research and allow for the private sector in a public/private partnership with local governments to begin hemp test plantings this spring.We need the jobs. Please do not tarry.Carl McWilliams, SiltThis letter was published in the Jan. 25 edition.
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