If pot were truly legal, high-quality joints would cost the same price as a Splenda packet

In July, Salon's Matthew Yglesias wrote an article about the price of legal marijuana, which is even more interesting now that Colorado and Washington have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

How cheaply could pot be grown with advanced farming techniques? One potential data point is Canada’s industrial hemp industry, where production costs are about $500 per acre. If the kind of mid-grade commercial weed that accounts for about 80 percent of the U.S. market could be grown that cheaply, it implies costs of about 20 cents per pound of smokable material: Enough pot to fill more than 800 modest-sized half-gram joints for less than a quarter!. Those numbers are probably optimistic, since in practice recreational marijuana is grown from more expensive transplanted clones rather than from seeds. Even so, the authors note that “production costs for crops that need to be transplanted, such as cherry tomatoes and asparagus, are generally in the range of $5,000-$20,000 per acre.” That implies costs of less than $20 per pound for high-grade sensimilla and less than $5 a pound for mid-grade stuff. Another way of looking at it, suggested by California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, is that we should expect legal pot to cost about the same amount as “other legal herbs such as tea or tobacco,” something perhaps “100 times lower than the current prevailing price of $300 per ounce—or a few cents per joint.”

This would make pot far and away the cheapest intoxicant on the market, absolutely blowing beer and liquor out of the water. Joints would be about as cheap as things that are often treated as free. Splenda packets, for example, cost 2 or 3 cents each when purchased in bulk.

I wonder how much money the liquor industry is going to contribute in their attempt to get these cannabis laws overturned?

Get High for Free


      1. I support legalization.  Period.  End of story.  If the people with the guns who control of our borders need to be placated by getting a cut, so be it.

    1. Someone forgot about reading the article.

      On the other hand, it seems that you could tax the hell out of marijuana and still leave consumers better off than they are today…

      There’s a decent sized paragraph in the article that details the effect of tax on pot.

      1. Well, you don’t want pot cheap.  You just want it cheaper than it costs to smuggle it across the border/pillage a national forest, drug gangs, etc…  The real goal on legalization is to minimize the harm, which is minimized when the cost is high but not SO high that untaxed pot-black-market exists.

        Thus the ideal tax would probably be:  If more than X tons of untaxed pot are confiscated in a year, drop the tax by 10%.  Otherwise, raise it by 10%

          1. My step dad was just telling me that is dad used to illicitly grow a bit of tobacco out back of the shed (in Canada) for personal use. It is also a plant. Could probably be grown in a tinfoil lined closted, if a person were so inclined…

          2. Your point is essentially correct, but weed grows like a weed. Tobacco OTOH is a finicky crop requiring good air quality. Ground level ozone does a number on it. 

        1. Wait…why don’t I want pot to be cheap? I think you’re looking at the wrong kind of harm-reduction, though. Police interactions are much, much more harmful on the main than pot itself. That’s kind of the issue.

          But yeah, the point of sin taxes is to regulate consumption. “You want your fun? You’re gonna have to give The Man a piece of your paycheck to get it.”

  1. When industrial hemp became legal in Canada, a farmer near my parents’ place  decided to grow it.  His fields were trampled and vandalized and his plants stolen by people who either thought they could get high from it or who planned to sell it to unsuspecting customers.  I suspect that the additional security costs associated with growing real pot would far exceed those associated with growing tobacco or asparagus. 

    1. If pot were that cheap in the first place, the economic incentive to steal it would be about the same as the economic incentive to steal tobacco or asparagus.

    2. Maybe. Maybe it would be like tobacco. I’m not aware of large security operations associated with tobacco, mostly because the legal market for it makes it uneconomical to steal the product and make your own. The money in cigarettes is tax avoidance.

      1. Partly that may be because there’s a fair degree of processing between tobacco leaves fresh off a plant, and tobacco ready to be smoked – fairly long curing with a particular temperature and humidity cycle, then chopping to the right consistency.  So, a lot of the creation of smokable tobacco happens after the crop is harvested, and requires a fair bit of industrial infrastructure.  Once it’s in a finished state, you have to start protecting it more.

        I have the impression (though I could be wrong) that you could basically pick a bud off a pot plant, bung it in a pipe, and have a pleasant smoke right then and there – the industrial processing basically consists of dividing the crop into properly weighed packages for resale.

        Basically, a pot field would be more like an orchard of cigarette trees.

        1. You just have to trim it, and hang it to dry in cool, dry, dark environment for about a week. Then it’s ready to smoke. You are right though, it doesn’t take nearly the same prep as tobacco. Trimming weed is a BITCH though. We got electric scissors just to do our few plants (legal, medicinal). And even still it’s a big pain. I know someone who went upstate to work for a grower just trimming for a week. He said they don’t even use electric scissors, all by hand. He got paid well, but he earned it. Serious hand cramps.

        2. You’d struggle to even light a bud picked straight off a plant that hadn’t been dried out first. If you did manage to light it, it wouldn’t taste at all good and in general the experience wouldn’t be nearly as nice.

          At an absolute minimum you have to dry it. 

          However you can go much further than that, as @boingboing-8da97cca7e8cf7da163106e848ee661d:disqus has pointed out trimming bud is pretty standard with anyone wanting a “high quality” product (although I’ve got no problem with smoking all the leafy bits). 

          You’ve also got a whole range of different “curing” methods which as far as I can tell are simply different/more complicated different drying methods, which can supposedly change the taste and pleasantness of the product.

    3. maybe at first… but why would anyone steal something that White Castle is giving away for free? There’s so much work involved; you’d have to harvest it, clean it, cure it, grind it, roll it. People would be more likely to steal asparagus, at least that’s ready for consumption.

  2. Wouldn’t this stimulate the economy if people were spending less on pot and more on other goods/services?

      1. Isn’t this related to the broken windows fallacy? All that money people are suddenly not spending on pot (essentially, not spending on all the costs of avoiding police) could be spent on things that are more productive for the economy, like new and more clever ways to show ads to people using the internet. Or, I don’t know, cheaper ways of producing energy.

        Right now, assuming a lot of people are consuming a lot of pot at fairly high prices, all that money is going to people who don’t add a lot of long-lasting value to the economy, like people who stand around and make sure other people don’t steal their pot, and people who shoot other people who try to sell pot to the people they want to sell pot to, and people who steal other people’s pot from under the noses of the people trying to stop them from stealing the pot. That’s a big useless tax on all of us.

        Okay, sure maybe some of that spending works as a stimulus, because  those people might be unemployed otherwise. But in the longer run, that’s a lot of human capital (and capital capital) we’re spending on pot that we could theoretically be spending on other things. Surely at least some of those people in the pot business might be inventing new medicines or gizmos or who-knows-what if they weren’t so busy shooting each other and trying to avoid getting arrested.

    1. The economic benefit would probably mostly come from diverting the current expenditure on ‘services’ that are not desired by their recipients (confiscations, SWAT raids, prosecutions, imprisonments), on something else.

      Heck, throwing that money in a pit and setting it alight would be a more beneficial use of it than the current one.

  3. Agree with the tobacco point – tobacco is cheaper to grow than high-grade MJ, but we don’t see cigs for pennies.

    Remember one of the biggest laws of economics – things are not priced based on what they cost to produce, they are priced based on their perception of value. If people would be willing to pay $1 for a high-grade joint, why charge $0.02?

    And as has been brought up a few times – TAXES. ;)

    1. “If people would be willing to pay $1 for a high-grade joint, why charge $0.02?”

      Because there’s nothing to stop your competitors from wiping you out by charging 50c, then their competitors doing the same to them by charging 25c, until economic equilibrium is reached and marijuana is about as profitable per acre as any other crop.

      1. Yeah there is, you make a smaller margin at 50 cents per joint. That means capital investment is less interested in you, which means you don’t have the funds you need to enter the market. 

        Starting small with a better product and producing on a lower margin than the market leader doesn’t work most of the time, it’s a fallacy that a lot of people throw around. Most of the time, the capital barriers to entry in any given market mean that you can’t undercut the market-leader unless you can beat them on both price and margin. You have to arrive with enough capital behind you to establish your business, and that capital is going to want a (this is important) *higher* margin than your competitor, otherwise they’d just invest in them instead. Markets are a lot more complicated when you need serious capital financing. Just coming up with a better product that you can sell for less usually doesn’t work, sadly. If any geek with a good idea could get a boat-load of low-interest credit, you get off the ground by producing at a lower-margin than your competition. The reality is that no one comes along and “wipes out” the market leader by slashing prices, unless they can slash costs even more intensively. 

        The bottom line is that you compete for captial based on your projected margins. Why would an investor want to see the margins fall by 50% in a given industry just to favor your business against someone else’s? Out of sentiment for the consumer? Capital investors have an interest in keeping every industry at as high a margin as possible. Which means that anyone wanting to come in and undercut the market-leader by producing at a lower margin is going to get laughed out of the room.

        Consumer markets are not designed to maximize value for consumers, they are designed to maximize value for the capital investor. In markets where capital barriers are low enough that anyone can enter (apps and other digital services) value is extremely high and price competition is intense, but once capital financing is brought to bear, the equilibrium is pulled strongly toward the highest margin that the market will bear.

        Cigarettes cost exponentially more than tea, even without taxes. You could turn a profit selling cigarettes for $.25 per pack before taxes but no one does it, even though they could capture the entire market, because there’s no incentive to invest your money in such a low-margin activity, regardless of how much of the market that particular business could capture. It makes a lot more sense to save your money for higher margin activities. It helps to think of businesses as tools for investors to make money, rather than entities with their own sovereign goals.

        1. At the moment it seems tobacco is in tune with other commodities – otherwise everyone would move their investments to tobacco companies, and every farmer would grow nothing else.

          And there are competitors in the business already.  If a tobacco company thought its cigarette brand could more than make up its lost margin with increased volume on a given price cut, they’d do it.  Unless you’re alleging they’re violating anti-trust laws (I have no particular reason to think that they are, nor that they aren’t), then the competition should have driven the profitability of cigarette manufacturing down to roughly the same level as operating a moving company, a florist, or an ISP.

          If you really believe joints could be delivered at 2c retail and break even for the manufacturer (which I don’t for a minute, but whatever), and that the market will have at least two well-capitalized players each making 5000% profit margins, it’s inconceivable that one of them wouldn’t be willing to cut back to a mere 4500% profit and corner the market – to which its competitor could easily respond by accepting a similar cut to its margin, continuing until one or other of them figures they’ll leave their prices where they are, as any further price cuts would leave their shareholders with a worse proposition than investing in alarm clock manufacturing. And that’s going to happen much closer to the 2c mark than $1.

          One thing is for sure – any emerging legal market for pot is going to be very closely scrutinized for cartels by the feds, so price fixing seems unlikely at first.

          1. Getting into a price war is really bad for business. Generally, the market-shares recalibrate near to where they were before the war with prices at a new, lower, baseline and with everyone making less money. 

            More importantly though, is that a low-margin, high volume business is a dog on the capital market. So if it makes it harder to raise funds and the best case scenario is that you gain some market-share but you’re making less profit and you’re stock is flat. It requires no collusion for everyone to arrive at the same conclusion that this style of competition is not a winner.

            It’s much, much more profitable to compete on “value-added” (which is a fabulously ironic term). This is like a price war that goes up instead of down, where the competitors all add things at trivial cost that justifies charging more a given product. It’s a truly brilliant method of competition, it guarantees that after the market-share recalibrates from price changes, profits across the board are higher! 

            This is a gross oversimplification but think of competing on price and competing on value as opposite ends of the spectrum. If you’re competing on price and you don’t have a serious cost advantage over your competitors, you’re going to take a bath and the capital markets will punish you for making the industry less profitable to invest in. No one wants that, so no one does it. Competing on “value” on the other hand, is better for everyone and there are plenty of incentives to engage in this behavior. 

            Again, it’s really important to understand that public companies aren’t sovereign entities, they’re all owned by the same capital market which has the same interest, i.e. higher margins, not lower. The investors in each company aren’t separate teams all rooting for their individual company’s success, most are invested in other companies in the same industry, so, if a board looked like they wanted to get into a price war, the capital market has an incentive to punish them hard enough to avoid it. This is completely legal.

          2. Why wouldn’t it work like fruits and vegetables?
            Gas prices go up; grocery prices go up.
            Gas prices go down; grocery prices stay the same.
            Repeat semi-annually.

          3. @Antinous_Moderator:disqus 
            It’s important to distinguish between marijuana the agricultural commodity and the finished retail good. Finished tobacco (chocolate, soda, etc…) retail prices are much more stable than other retail grocery prices in spite of having the same constraints on their agricultural commodity inputs. 

            But yes, to answer your question, retail grocers take full advantage of fuel fluctuation to gauge their competitors positions via incremental price changes. With a long historical record of these kinds of changes, you can easily establish a relationship with your competitors without ever actually having a conversation. As an industry you might see over time a spreading realization that undercutting each other on prices hurts everyone, so you start to move your prices into line with your competitors and focus on competing for customers by having fancier looking storefronts and display tables. They’ve established a successful market-segmentation where you have to drive prices way up to actually drive customers all the way across the gap to the wholesale grocery stores that they don’t want to admit having to shop at. 

            Ultimately though, this is really just a starker example of the signalling that happens via incremental price changes in all industries. You can have a bit of an indirect conversation with your competitors via incremental price changes without actually colluding to keep prices high. Where you can move to lower the elasticity of demand in response to price changes (i.e. introducing “premiumness” and creating widely separated market segments) the more you can prosper as an industry.

            Tax schemes, regulatory structures, import duties, etc… are part of the equation, but I would argue that there’s something fundamentally different at play. I would argue that there’s a different value proposition for the consumer in the markets for tobacco, soda, etc… 

            There’s a difference between the way soda and bulk rice have been traditionally marketed to consumers and this affects how much of a premium consumers are willing to pay for a premium brand, even though the product might not really be distinguishable from a generic alternative.

            You can see the tectonic shift toward this kind of marketing and consumption. In Whole Foods, you’re seeing extremely sophisticated packaging for basic staples and that is leaking downstream. The more an industry can shift the value proposition toward the presence/absence of some quality that doesn’t really bear on production costs, the more profitable they will be and the more of a buffer they’ll have against the kinds of winds that buffet commodities.

            Competitors across all industries are realizing that it makes sense to keep prices widely segmented and to move tightly within each segment, so that they can compete instead on low-cost intangibles.

            I would actually expect to see more widely separated segmentation in say, the smartphone market, with each segment tightening itself up. This should happen as competitors get settled in and rack up more historical data about features and pricing. At least until the next major disruption.

        2. How’s this. You grow and sell Apple weed at 50c a joint. And I’ll sell PC weed for 25c a joint?

          That’s basically the argument I think the two of you are having.

          Just remember, it’s a nearly bottomless market. There’s not a shortage of customers.

      2. That’s classic economic theory – but most businesses don’t actually behave that way. Why are text messages still so expensive? Gasoline prices? There are many examples – almost never does the textbook “competition will drop prices” game actually work, and when it does, it usually causes price crashes that end up resetting the market or driving companies out of business.

    2. Even with the high tax rate in a place like NYC, a single cigarette costs ~ $.50 (about 10 bucks a pack, 20 cigarettes in a pack), in places with lower or nonexistent taxes it definitely prices out at a quarter or less. That’s inline with the article’s claims and could certainly mean pennies. Rolling my own costs me ~ $.14 per cigarette and I could easily push that far lower by seeking cheaper bulk tobacco or using low grade pipe tobacco. 

      That being said cigarettes aren’t likely a a good comparison here. A cigarette smoker isn’t buying on a per use basis. A cigarette smoker doesn’t just buy a single cigarette when they feel like it, they’re smoking much higher numbers on a habitual basis. I go through an ounce and a quarter of tobacco in 3-4 days, compare that to pot and you’re talking about some insanely heavy use. That creates an incentive toward keeping even high quality product very, very cheap. Cigars and pipe tobacco might be a better comparison point. There are certainly brands of both out there that are as cheap as (if not cheaper than) cigarettes, but the market is largely driven by expensive luxury brands. Quality cigars in particular can range from a few dollars a piece to hundreds, are typically bought on a per use basis, and are seldom used in a habitual basis. The processing aspect would be more similar to pot as well. With most cigars and pipe tobacco its basically harvest, cure, roll/package. Much of it done by hand in all but the lowest quality products. 

  4. That $300/oz. has a bunch of non-production related expenses built into it. Not all of those would go away if in a legalized environment. The risk premium would drop, but transportation would still be necessary, and there would be different costs involved in commercial packaging, advertising, distribution etc. It would certainly be much, much less than the $300/oz. figure, but those expenses aren’t all imposed by the law.

    1. The production expenses for pot are similar to the production expenses for oregano, and cheaper than for tobacco (which is nasty to work with.)   You can get an ounce of the good organic stuff at Whole Foods or a pound of cheap leaf at Walmart, and either way it’s about $5.  So, yeah, pretty much all of the expenses are imposed by the law.

      As far as commercial packaging goes, my father used to have a pound can of pipeweed around the house, though he bought cigarettes pre-rolled when he was smoking them.  It can go either way.

  5. I’ll be interested to see what the actual price ends up being after the sorts of regulatory bits and pieces applied to ethanol beverages are put in place…

    According to http://web.archive.org/web/20070815063506/http://www.usda.gov/oce/EthanolSugarFeasibilityReport3.pdf , with other sources showing roughly similar numbers, ethanol is pretty cheap. Feedstock and processing costs of between 1 and 4 bucks a gallon. Let’s double that, to account for some additional processing to scrub any methanol and maybe filter it enough to make it halfway drinkable.

    So, 1 gallon (basically 3.8 liters, in round numbers) of ethanol would run 2-8 dollars, depending on feedstock. 3.8 liters of ethanol would (roughly ABV vs. ABM is annoying) produce 9.5 liters of 80-proof dubiously drinkable vodka, for a price of between 20 and 85 cents a liter.

    In my cursory searching, a liter of bottom-barrel vodka actually runs 8-10 bucks. Some mixture of processing, middlemen, and taxation/regulatory structuring is clearly introducing a significant delta.

    Now, this certainly doesn’t change the fact that legal weed will be far cheaper than black-market stuff, and definitely much more competitive with other intoxicants, depending on consumer tastes; but if the ‘legalize it and treat it like alchohol’ position is taken at its word, it definitely won’t have a cost directly inferrable from bulk agricultural commodities pricing.

    1.  The vast majority of the cost of cheap liquor in the US at least is taxes. Far more taxes are collected on distilled spirits than on beer or wine.

      Trust me – once the marketers have their way with pot, you’ll see the same ‘premium’ brands that you do with booze.

    1. But the vast majority of weed in Amsterdam was not grown legally. It is still illegal to grow marijuana in any significant quantity in the Netherlands, so all the legal weed you smoke in Amsterdam was actually grown illegally elsewhere.

      So the prices you see in Amsterdam still reflect the illegal status of growing and smuggling it, so it’s completely different than actual completely legal pot would be.

      1. But the vast majority of weed in Amsterdam was not grown legally.

        Also, climate.  The US could easily support vast, year-round weed farms.

        1. Sure, but the Netherlands would have no trouble growing all they wanted if it were legal.  The reasons they import stuff from Afghanistan or the Moroccan mountains are that the terrain makes it easy to hide from cops, the corruption means you don’t have to hide from local cops, and the climate and terrain in Afghanistan make it harder to grow other cash crops.

        2.  Hawaii could easily supply the demand of better pot than most people have ever had a chance to try.  Three harvests per year outdoors of Puna Buds or Maui Wowie. 

    2. Typical San Francisco area dispensary prices advertised in the newspaper run from about $5-15/gram for few-gram quantities, $5-8/gram for ounces, all of that for buds as opposed to leaves, hash, etc. 

  6. It will be interesting to see the intersection of U.S. decriminalization and intellectual property. On the one hand, a lot of strains are cloned, and someone could make a mint by patenting a popular strain they’ve been cultivating clandestinely for decades. On the other hand – isn’t that kind of what Monsanto does? This may actually wind up being one instance where the big established name has to play a little catch up.

    Monsanto, undoubtedly, has its hands in the cookie jars of hemp and medical strains. But unlike home-growers, who could cultivate for whatever they pleased – taste, high, whatever – Monsanto probably had to work under more puritanical ‘this is medicine’ or ‘this is rope’ auspices. 

    And remember, people are going to be far greater connoisseurs when it comes to pot.  We don’t speak of the ‘terroir’ of Monsanto’s soy lecithin in animal feed. This is going to be much more akin to grape cultivation for wine, I think. Maybe it even needs a sui generis IP regime, like a Denominacion de Origen.

    A little bit on a tangent from the article, maybe, but I could definitely see how, even in the absence of criminal penalties, there might be plenty of things – like intellectual property monopolies – that might artificially drive the price above the cost of a pack of Splenda. And I can get wine for ‘next to nothing’ like Splenda if I buy it in bulk and in cardboard boxes. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is GOING to buy it that way, or that everyone will be drunk all the time. Great article. Still not sure if pot will win ‘cheapest high’ even in the absence of artificial factors. That would have to be ‘love’. Or, I don’t know, dextromorphan or something.

    1. As far as IP goes you can’t really patent (the sort of IP involved here) a plant unless you’re talking a GMO variety you’ve developed. Varieties developed via conventional cross breeding are not and never have been subject to patent or copyright. 

      1. Thank you.  Would things like autoflowering cannabis, for example, qualify as a GMO, though?

        And remember there’s the – possibly defunct – trademark angle.  Just the quickest thing I could find on it:


        And are PBRs, for example, outside the umbrella of ‘intellectual property’? I’m half defending the idea that my lay simplification was ok, but half willing to admit I might just not know enough.

      2. Wikipedia:
        Plant breeders’ rights (PBR), also known as plant variety rights (PVR), are rights granted to the breeder of a new variety of plant that give the breeder exclusive control over the propagating material (including seed, cuttings, divisions, tissue culture) and harvested material (cut flowers, fruit, foliage) of a new variety for a number of years.

    2. As far as I can tell DXM is pretty expensive in my neck of the woods. I have no idea how much raw DXM costs, but over the counter store brand robotussin costs around $10 a bottle and has so much guafestein (sp?) that anybody trying to get high on it would likely have a stroke.

      1. I’m sorry to derail us – that was meant to be a joke. You were correct. I was referring to Robitussin.  Robitussin manifests a drunk/stoned-like high very early in dosage.  A double adult dose (subjectively) inebriates more than  a 1.5 oz shot of ethanol.

        But you are VERY VERY correct to advise against using it as a hallucinogen (with concomitant doses) because of ‘adulterants’ like guafinesin. I simply meant to suggest that even before whatever trip plateau, it’s a cheap intoxicant. If you care to TRIP, there are far safer ways than Robitussin. Pure DXM being among them. I shouldn’t joke about tussin, sorry.

        1. Acetaminophen is a much more dangerous additive in typical cough syrups; you could trash your kidneys and liver and die very unpleasantly if you overdose on that.  Guafenisin won’t kill you, but in large quantities it will definitely get your attention.  (Sorry, you’re catching me while I’m recovering from a really bad cold, and going through the DXM and Guafenisin in distinctly non-psychedelic doses, and just a double dose of the expectorant is really annoying.)

        2. I’ve never seen someone pass around the ‘tussin at a party. Maybe once at a slumber party when i was 12.

          I’m not certain about the basis/point of your comparison. Are you talking about which drugs drug abusers will use?

          1. No. It was a joke. ‘Cheapest high’. I said ‘love’. Then I said tussin, to make fun of myself and the corny ‘love’ idea. Tussin is anecdotally cheap, and yes, the kind of drug someone with a drug problem might stoop to, so I thought it was a funny drug to contrast with ‘love’. I realize now that the whole crunk ‘purple drank’ phenomenon makes tussin a mixed metaphor, and I should have said something like Sterno instead. I have no friggin clue the going rate for dxm, nor is it even remotely relevant. Frog dissected and dead… 

  7. I have no doubt that the alcohol companies are doing everything they can to prevent marijuana legalization, but the funny thing is, they probably aren’t going to suffer too big a hit. Alcohol’s pretty embedded in American culture.

    1. It’s also highly addictive for many. Where as pot can only tenuously be said to be ‘psychologically addictive’. Another reason the liquor barons and big pharma don’t like weed.

      1.  I hate to break it to you, but big pharma doesn’t see a threat from weed.  Maybe they did a century ago.  But now days they couldn’t care less.

        1. That’s funny, one of the best uses for Marijuana is the treatment of depression and anxiety. Tell me that big pharma aren’t a little worried about how much business will drop off when people stop taking zoloft or xanax and start self-medicating with something they can grow on their own. And that’s just one use case. There are literally hundreds more.

          Here’s a fun one, Viagra. When people are too stoned to give a shit about their limp dicks, sales will go down like a… well you get the idea.

          1. For sure, different strokes for different folks. Weed would also be contraindicated for asthmatics. But it’s at least an alternative for those that can derive benefit from it.

          2.  CastanhasDoPara, hemp flowers are a bronchial dilator and used to be the most prescribed medicine for asthma. 
            Coffee is a bronchial dilator too. 
            I have no idea if I would still have asthma. 

          3.  @Ipo, Okay, duly noted.  This is what happens when I don’t do my due diligence. One more thing I didn’t know pot could do. Seems quite counter-intuitive but a little google-fu and this seems to be legit. Thanks.

          4. Big pharma doesn’t seem to be too troubled by kava kava or St. John’s wort either, both of which can be effective in some cases where expensive pharmaceuticals are often used.

            Maybe not a large swath of the current users of modern psychopharmaceuticals could be better helped with them, but if everyone who could somehow magically discovered this fact, it would undoubtedly cost the pharma companies some money.  But that’s unlikely to happen in any kind of hurry.

      2. Tenuously? I’m sorry, but this rubbish argument that marijuana isn’t addictive needs to be put to bed. It’s less addictive than alcohol, and the withdrawal process isn’t as hard. It’s still addictive. Anyone that smokes heavily for a few weeks/months then decides to stop cold turkey will struggle for a few days. Difficulty sleeping, irritable, agitated, etc. In short, it is addictive, but less so than many other substances, and the withdrawal symptoms are not as severe.

        I’ve certainly been there a number of times, and I’ve seen a whole of lot of people go through exactly the same thing. 

        Here’s a good Time article on the matter:

          1. No, it isn’t. It’s my own personal experience and things I’ve observed. The article I’ve linked to is fair and balanced and from an author who covers this sort of topic quite a lot. See below.

          2. @boingboing-580eafb56868c6d0047b3e1fb4c11a6c:disqus Firstly, anecdote is evidence, its simply not very reliable data. That is why early studies into topics not understood very well will interview various subjects to create a thesis before other studies will do larger trials.
            Secondly, the article I’ve linked to also includes expert statements and refers to other data.

            Propaganda implies that I’m trying to mislead people. I’m not, I’ll tell anyone that I don’t think pot should be illegal, that I don’t think its a particularly problematic drug, but that like all drugs it does cause some problems amongst some users and that it does have some (minor) addictive qualities.

        1. Oh, then it must just be me, and every other user I know… then again my usual state is sleepless, irritable and agitated. I become less so when I have some pot. In any case I guess we’re at odds on that particular application of anecdote.

          “Is Marijuana Addictive? It Depends How You Define Addiction” Says everything it needs to right in the title.

          From the linked article:
          “Estimates vary, but compared with tobacco, which hooks about 20% to 30% of smokers, marijuana is much less addictive, coming in at 9% to 10%. In contrast, 23% to 25% of heroin users get addicted, along with 15% of alcohol users and 15% to 20% of those who use cocaine.”

          Even if I were to take this at face value, which I don’t, Marijuana is by far less ‘addictive’ than all other substances listed here. It also happens to be far less destructive to those that are ‘addicted’.

          I’ve known people that started with the crack or meth and things go down hill very quickly(sell the house, sell the car, sell yourself). About 95% of pot heads I know are decent hard working people who would easily give up the dope before they sold off everything to go smoke pot in a seedy boarded-over row-house and have sex with strangers for one more hit. In other words the term crack-whore exists for a reason, the reason there is not an equivalent ‘pot-whore’ is because they don’t exist as far as I’ve ever heard. This model does allow 5% for what I call burn-outs. Thing with burn-outs is that they usually started life a little dim in the first place and the pot really isn’t helping anything. But that’s just a product of being poor, undereducated, untalented and finding out that one thing you are good at is getting high and in most cases it doesn’t really matter how they get high just that they do. So I can’t really place all of these burn-out issues squarely at the feet of pot either.

          Suffice it to say that I have seen very little evidence that pot is addictive at all, physically or psychologically. I might, with reservations, entertain the idea that it could be psychologically addictive but my extensive research on the matter would tell me that I was entertaining a tenuous hypothesis at best.

          One last thing. I’m not sure exactly of Time’s interests in the matter but as they are part of the old-media establishment who has as motive profit and siding with government/business I can see how they might be a little biased. At least they were ambivalent with the title. But I mentioned that already.

          1. The article is written by an ex-herion addict who happens to write a lot about issues relating to addiction and neuroscience. Now perhaps the fact that she’s off the junk and decided to clean up her act might mean she’s spreading bullshit and propaganda in order to warn other people off drugs, but I’ve found that every article I’ve read by her is pretty much fair and for the most part accurate.

            Everything that you’ve said about other drugs being more addictive, well I agree and I said the same thing in my original post. 

            About 95% of pot heads I know are decent hard working people who would easily give up the dope before they sold off everything to go smoke pot in a seedy boarded-over row-house and have sex with strangers for one more hit.

            Because you can’t be addicted to something unless you’re hocking your stuff and screwing random people? 

            Google ‘marijuana withdrawal  symptoms’ and read some stories from people that have just quit on various forums. Scattered throughout the “man you don’t know what you’re talking about, try coming off herion, pussy” comments the same sorts of symptoms are listed time and time again, all over the world, from people that are either going through the experience at the time or they’ve been through it before. 

            i only had like 20 hours of sleep during that past 4 days… you can do the math… 
            last night was no different…. i spent 2 hours tossing around trying to fall asleep… i got so sick of it and i decided to pull out my bottle of red wine…. had a glass… and i passed out… doing that again tonight… 
            well… i know that alcohol does reduce the quality of sleep… as of this morning i was feeling like c**p… but trust me… it’s better than no sleep at all.

            I’ve been suffering from anxiety, depression, dp/dr, insomnia; I’m an emotional wreck.

            Personally I went through a few days of serious hardship including lack of sleep, lack of appetite, Anxiety and a general lack of interest in anything, worst of all music.

            I was a serious bong addict for a few years and every time I ran out of weed it was the same crap. Deciding I needed to quit and actually get control of my life wasn’t a walk in the park either. I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as a hardcore herion addict and I didn’t feel the need to sell my body for a hit, but it still was a struggle.

          2. Yes, the selling yourself for drugs thing is the extreme of addicted behaviour. I was illustrating that you never hear stories, though I’m sure it does happen, about pot ruining people’s lives. Or really substantially affecting one’s livelihood, aside from getting fired after a random drug test.* And by that I mean the average user. Sorry for the exaggeration. Cigarettes would be a good counter, certainly addictive and users don’t usually throw it all away for one more cig.

            Now out of the twenty or so people I know that use, have used or are random but experienced users. Only one of them ever had a ‘problem’ with pot. This person also happened to be using/abusing other substances too. Just one out of twenty and it’s dubious to say that it was solely pot that affected this person’s life to the point of entering rehab.

            However, I can understand that it is different for other people. I can especially understand when your preferred method of use is the bong. Which I would have to put in the 5% of users that have a problem with the weed category. I also might wonder if perhaps weed was not the only problem in that scenario. In any case I am glad for the illumination you have provided into your struggle. I didn’t mean at all to say that people can’t have a problem with pot (hell some people have a problem with sports drinks).

            What I did wish to convey was that most people don’t show any sort of withdrawal symptoms I have ever seen or heard of and if they do it must not be significant enough to mention. Again from an admittedly small sample of actual users but it works with the numbers you have too. 5% to 9-10%. I guess really I’m claiming that your source could be a little high on her pot numbers which would indicate that pot is even less of a threat than she seems to think it is. In any case sorry for the long reply, it’s a good debate.

            *That’s a good question. Legal pot v. random drug tests.

          3. Can you describe the physiological changes to neurochemistry that are caused by long term chronic use of marijuana? Where it affects the pleasure/reward centers of the brain more than say, a girlfriend does, and more than alcohol, amphetamines, or opiates do?

          4. @boingboing-580eafb56868c6d0047b3e1fb4c11a6c:disqus No, I can’t I’m no expert on that sort of thing, but I can type into Google Scholar ‘Marijuana dependence’.

            Perhaps this article will help inform you

            Also, once again, I never said that pot is more addictive than any other substance! I will never claim its more addictive than alcohol, or opiates. Stop the god damn straw-man arguments.

          5. Not sure how much of a thing it is Stateside, but here in Oz it’s pretty standard practice to mix weed with tobacco.

            Which tends to make it more addictive than tobacco alone…

          6.  Interesting. I wonder where you all picked up that method.

            I think they do that a bit in the Caribbean too.

          7. Just accepting that it’s addictive doesn’t mean it’s much to worry about.  A few days’ irritability sounds about like me going off coffee – I’m definitely addicted to it.  We don’t get worked up about the addictiveness of caffeine, because (a) the life of an addict is essentially indistinguishable from that of a non-addict, and (b) white people like coffee (unlike khat, whose effects are practically the same, but since it’s popular mostly among black and middle-eastern people, it’s a scary illegal drug in most of Europe and North America).

            So, in the absence of prohibition, how does the life of a pot addict compare to that of a coffee addict?

          8. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. And to be clear, I’m not saying that pot can’t be addictive. Just that from the direct evidence I have it’s at worst no more worrisome than cigarettes or coffee both of which are known to be addictive, physically. And at best not addictive at all for the vast majority of users with a small minority who may abuse it to the point of self-harm. Though in the absence of pot, I suspect that these few problem people would find other ways to get their fix. Some people are just predisposed to habitual harmful short-sighted behaviour.

          9. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s not worth worrying about as the addictive effects of marijuana are mild and only hit a small percentage of users.

            Prohibition still causes far more problems than it solves. 

            As for your last question, I’d say the only reason that pot addicts might struggle more than coffee addicts is the intoxicating effects, especially if they’re the sorts of addicts that smoke a lot of it. However the same is equally true of alcohol, and the consequences of alcohol addiction are far more damaging, but still less damaging than the effects of alcohol prohibition.

          10. “”Is Marijuana Addictive? It Depends How You Define Addiction”
            be against this broadening of categories, as its like are used by conservative rhetoric to oppress

          11. See I’m more in the, lets put all the facts on the table and look at them objectively camp. People jumping up and down claiming that pot has no addictive qualities or negative effects only adds fodder to prohibition supporters that can then turn around and point to the substantial scientific evidence claiming otherwise.

        2. I dunno.  I was an avid pot smoker for years, almost every day.  Then I moved to a new city and basically forgot to go looking for any for a few months.  That is not addiction.

          Giving up cigarettes was brutal and took me several tries.  Giving up pot happened by accident and I didn’t even mean to.  A very different experience.

          I guess I never really ‘gave up’ or ‘quit’ pot, I just haven’t bothered with it in 15 years.  I could smoke it again sometime I suppose.  No way is it addictive in the same way.

          1. I smoked cigarettes for about 3 months after meeting my wife. She smoked, I wanted to hang out with her all the time so I took it up. I was probably smoking about 10 cigarettes a day. Then I decided one day I’d had enough, I handed my pouch to a friend told him to finish it and the next day it didn’t even cross my mind to have one*.

            I guess cigarettes aren’t addictive.. except that this anecdote only shows one thing, not everyone that smokes gets addicted to cigarettes, just like not everyone gets addicted to pot and not everyone gets addicted to drinking. However all three cause addiction in some people

            *Interestingly enough my sister has remained a party smoker for about 20 years without ever taking it up as an every day habit, perhaps there is some genetic component.

    2. Plus add in that the intoxication effects of alcohol and marijuana are different so people smoke pot and drink for different reasons. Alcohol sales in the Netherlands and other places where pot has been legalized/decriminalized haven’t seen a drop in alcohol sales as well. 

    3. Yeah there seems to be a disregard for the myriad of social aspects involved here. I highly doubt people with suddenly decided they don’t like going to bars just because a widely available intoxicant is suddenly legal. Likewise people wont start ordering a bong to have with dinner instead of a glass of wine. Seems the assumption is people are just interested in getting intoxicated in the cheapest fashion possible. 

      1.  I stopped going to bars when my state decrimilaized weed. it’s anecdote, but it speaks to your high doubt that I exist.

  8. If there were really only one overall price for pot, the price would settle about midway between the cost of production and the willingness to pay, i.e. the consumer and producer surplus would be equal – and the price would be a lot higher than that for tea. But this is a market that would be just begging for segmentation and product differentiation (it’s already here… ditchweed and BC bud don’t carry the same price tag, though I can’t tell you the price ratio off the top of my head). Coffee is another good example of such a market; you can buy mediocre ground coffee in bulk and make yourself coffee for about $0.10 per cup, or you can pay $4 or more for coffee with extras at Starbucks. Quite a spread.

    1. Ooooh. Coffee is a terrific analogy.  The gamut from actual shit coffee all the way up to ultra-luxury ferret shit coffee (Kopi Luwak at $700/kg).  Just because it CAN be cheap doesn’t mean it will be.

      And how apropos that you put Splenda in it. 

    2.  The meta-data is what makes tea and coffee more expensive. The more fanciful story I can tell you, the more you’ll pay. Which is sorta funny because most of the tea you drink is from multiple farms and mixed (single farm teas lack some robustness).

      Anyhow the point is marijuana has strains too right. And stories. So the same stuff would probably happen.

  9. >I wonder how much money the liquor industry is going to contribute in their attempt to get these cannabis laws overturned?

    Never mind them, I seem to remember a story, probably from this site, where the biggest opponents to legalizing cannabis was… cannabis dealers, who didn’t want Big Tobacco taking their business.

    1. Yep. Once it’s legal and regulated, the industry players that advance are the ones who can leverage high-scale production, to cut costs per unit — which is to say, those that can afford to most cryptically bribe the industry regulators, most plausibly.

  10. Ya’ll go ahead work on the price breakdown per legal joint thing there.  I’m gonna scope out my garden for the best spot to place my ‘six pot plants for personal use’.  I’m sure no one in this HOA neighborhood will mind if I grow some buds…what with it being legal and all.  (that’s sarcasm)

  11. Marijuana is fairly easy to personally grow. If legal I would imagine that soon garden supply stores would offer a dozen cloned varieties of stater plants just like my local store offers 4 types of raspberries.

    Stick them in your yard if you don’t mind seeds or pesky kids stealing them. On the other hand home supply stores would start selling high intensity LED grow systems for small indoor cultivation.

    If legal I don’t see how regulations will keep home grown from depressing the market price.

    Homemade beer and wine is legal however it is fairly complicated to make and requires a fair investment in time and learning how to do it. Growing marijuana is about as difficult as growing tomatoes or flowers.

    1. Not to mention that they are pretty plants. I don’t imbibe but, I do have a section of my garden devoted to wormwood (used for absinthe), poppies, datura, and flowering tobacco, because they look good, and I can.

    2. To be fair, ‘distilling’ consists of letting fruit rot, then deciding those nasty juices around it are edible. Hence the drunk-bear-in-suburb-falls-onto-trampoline-from-tree trope.  Distilling, at its most basic, is composting, not gardening.  Much like shrooms, I guess?

      1.  You’re thinking of fermentation, not distillation when you talk about “letting fruit rot.”
        Distillation is a process to further concentrate and purify what fermentation has produced from that rotting fruit.
        Wine and beer are fermented; brandy and whisky and other “hard” spirits are created by taking the products of fermentation that extra step through distillation.

    3. You can get a wide assortment of LED grow lights on Amazon and Ebay today for pretty reasonable prices.  I have some lower wattage lights for starting pepper plants in February.  I have no experience growing weed, but it seems reasonable that it wouldn’t be much harder to grow in the backyard than cilantro.  

    4. My dad was a narcotics cop for a couple decades and he always said that the most difficult thing about legalizing marijuana would be all the tax revenue that would never materialize because of home growers, but I tend to disagree.

      Producing smokable tobacco isn’t much harder than smokable marijuana, but no one does it because it’s way less convenient than buying it already dried and rolled. 
      I think that after a time, most people will come to the same decision for weed as they have for tobacco, that a small amount of convenience is worth an insane markup. We lean this way with most consumer goods that could be produced easily at home.

  12. In Washington, we’ll be taxing 25% on the transfer form producer to processor, 25% on processor-to-retailer, and just under 30% (including the regular sales tax of about 9.8%) on retail sale.  I’m convinced there is plenty of room for profit at each step with retail price in the range of the $200-280 an ounce of quality dried flowers demands now on the black market in Washington.  Cost projections for the voter’s guide estimated $84/oz for the producer.

  13. It’s more like Coke weed (hah!) and Pepsi weed. The margins in the soda pop industry are so astronomically high (hah!), because they’ve figured out how to compete on added “value”, rather than price. Other generic sodas charge significantly less, but it doesn’t matter because those two players have changed the way consumers view the value proposition for that product.

    As soon as kids at school learn to recognize and laugh at other kids for smoking generic weed, it’ll be an epic win for investors in the marijuana industry.

    1.  That’s a damn good point. A lot of consumerism is driven by this sort of mechanism. I must have the best shit because I’m better than all these other chumps.

      It’s like the saddle blanket story. Gent walks into a traders shop and asks for the most expensive blanket in the whole store. Clerk shows him the premium, blah blah blah, thing, best gawddang saddle blanket in the whole county. Gent scoffs and asks for the better one, the one they keep behind the counters. Clerk goes to the back room, grabs the el cheapo everyman saddle blanket and proceeds back to the counter. He shows it to the Gent and explains it’s ‘superiour’ quality. And he explains its price, twice that of the super-premium garbage he just looked at. “Sold!” Bellows the Gent and metes out the required silver. He takes up his cheap-ass everyman saddle blanket and strides out of the shop like a boss. Why? Because he feels like he has the best, and despite the clerks attempts to keep him from it he won out and also finagled the best deal for the best blanket. Too bad he’s still a schmuck. But the problem is that he will never know it because he is an idiot with money. Trust me, I have seen this play out in real life many times. People, especially youth, are idiots for fashion, style and what’s ‘hot’. It’s all bullshit, but sometimes there’s good money in bullshit.

      1. A lot of people are optimistic that open-source consumer review networks (think wiki-reviews for all consumer goods) will be the death lifestyle marketing. 

        I would think that maintaining independence from producers and accessing information that people want to know and can’t get from traditional reviews (component suppliers’ labor standards, for instance) will be a serious challenge. 

        Plus, it’s a lot less sexy to be showing off your new product with a webpage screenshot of 4.9 stars coloring your thoughts than those marketing images of sexy people in sexy locations being really damned sexy.

      2. It’s the Bake Sale Effect. Price the brownies at 50 cents, nobody buys. Price them at $5, they suddenly become deluxe and there’s a line out the door.

  14. The alcohol industry should just capitalize on the low cost and advertise smoking while drinking, if Splenda is free with coffee then a joint should be free with my beer. 

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