MMJ Could Jinx Recreational Pot Market 
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MMJ Could Jinx Recreational Pot Market 
Posted by CN Staff on May 16, 2013 at 04:47:22 PT
By Jonathan Kaminsky
Source: Reuters
Olympia, Washington -- Key officials helping to create Washington state's potentially lucrative recreational pot market say its success may hinge on preventing consumers from choosing to get high on readily available medical cannabis because of low and sometimes nonexistent taxes on it.The officials say it may be necessary to raise taxes or impose more stringent rules on medical pot to avoid undercutting the new recreational market and the tax dollars it is expected to inject into state coffers. Many "patients," they say, are in reality heavy recreational users who fake or exploit their maladies.
The idea of changing the rules for medical marijuana alarms some patients and providers of the drug as medicine.Under current state law, a range of medical professionals, including naturopaths and even some nurses can recommend marijuana for health problems ranging from cancer to persistent pain. While Washington state has no patient registry for the drug, officials in Colorado, which also has medical marijuana, have said the overwhelmingly male and relatively young demographics of their patient population line up with statistics for recreational consumers of the drug.The higher tax rate for recreational marijuana would effectively create two markets - an example of the type of obstacle officials must navigate as they work to allow sales of pot to recreational users 21 and older, something no state has done."We as a state will fail unequivocally at a well-regulated and well-taxed system if we don't treat it as one market," said state Representative Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat representing Seattle and chair of the state House Finance Committee. "I appreciate and acknowledge the sensitive position that medical marijuana patients are in, but there are ways to support them without providing a blanket exemption from all taxation."On Thursday, Washington state is set to release proposed rules on who can grow, process and sell the drug, and on how to obtain licenses.Voters in Washington state and Colorado in November became the first in the nation to approve ballot measures legalizing recreational weed. The federal government considers cannabis to be an illegal narcotic, and U.S. officials say they are studying how to respond to the moves by the two states. Washington state has allowed medical marijuana since 1998 and Colorado followed suit in 2000.Because the medical marijuana industry in Washington state exists in a legal gray area, many storefronts selling the drug pay no taxes, while the recreational-use industry faces a voter-approved mandate to tax the drug at a rate of 75 percent, in addition to standard state and local sales taxes.The state's marijuana consultant, Mark Kleiman, and other observers, including some state lawmakers in Washington and some of the other 17 states with medical marijuana, say that many people treated as patients are actually recreational users.Most pot will likely continue to be consumed by a minority of price-conscious heavy users, so their ability to buy significantly cheaper medical cannabis will make it hard for the recreational market to take hold, he said.Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that in his view one approach to solving the threat posed to the recreational market would be to raise taxes on medical marijuana."Another would be limiting medical marijuana to people who are actually sick," said Kleiman, who was appointed to his position with the state in March and has been popularly dubbed the state pot czar, a term he dislikes.Kleiman is the co-author of the book "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know" and has also written about crime policy and incarceration.No Sales Before 2014Last year, the Washington state Office of Financial Management estimated that taxes on the drug sold for recreation could generate up to $532 million in fiscal year 2015, the first full year legalized sales could occur.Marijuana legalization backers touted the potential windfall for the state, but Kleiman has cautioned that, largely because of the availability of cheaper medical pot, actual tax collection could be less than half that projection.Sales of the drug to recreational users are not expected to occur before March 2014.Brian E. Smith, spokesman for the state's Liquor Control Board, the agency tasked with overseeing the recreational pot industry, agrees that competition from medical pot will pose "a challenge" to the viability of the new system. Washington's medical marijuana industry, which has its roots in a 1998 voter-approved measure, is among the most lightly regulated in the country.There is no provision under the law allowing for the sale of medical marijuana, but dispensaries collect "donations" from authorized patients of about $10 per gram of the drug.Estimates vary for how many medical-pot storefronts exist statewide, but in Seattle alone officials estimate they have over 150 such storefronts.Some Washington state dispensaries have sought to gain legitimacy and lessen the chances of authorities shutting them down by following state Department of Revenue instructions to pay taxes. As a result, the department reports collecting $1.2 million from 52 providers of the drug in fiscal year 2012, mostly in the form of sales taxes.But because of the gray zone in the law that medical marijuana occupies, Department of Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said some dispensaries were not paying taxes on the advice of their lawyers.State lawmakers are considering legislation to direct the Liquor Control Board to recommend ways to create a single marijuana market with defined tax rates for medical pot.State Representative Chris Hurst, a Democrat, calls the state's medical cannabis industry "a sham" that he predicts will not long survive once recreational-use stores open. He anticipates that federal or state authorities will crack down on unlicensed dispensaries."All you have to do is make examples of five or six people and the entire industry collapses almost immediately," Hurst said. "You have to have something to replace it, and that's what the recreational market is."Such talk horrifies many medical marijuana providers."Legalization (of recreational use marijuana) will be exactly what we were afraid of," said Steve Sarich, a medical marijuana entrepreneur who helped lead the campaign against the November ballot initiative. Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Prudence CrowtherSource: Reuters (Wire)Author:  Jonathan KaminskyPublished: May 15, 2013Copyright: 2013 Thomson ReutersCannabisNews  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #9 posted by mexweed on May 17, 2013 at 13:16:39 PT:
Medical for the Sick; Nutritional for Prevention
"limiting medical marijuana to people who are actually sick"-- note how that avoids acknowledging NUTRITIONAL cannabis for PREVENTING sickness, which could mean for almost anyone, and as a personal duty rises above "recreational". Prevention Example: if early-life access to cannabis turned out to be an effective way to PREVENT youngsters getting addicted to H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide nicotine $igarettes, a CDC-estimated $193-billion per year could be saved to the US economy on $igarette-$moking-related medical costs and productivity losses.
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Comment #8 posted by Sam Adams on May 16, 2013 at 11:33:06 PT
Just look at our language - everybody knows what "beer gut" is....every heard of a "ganja gut"? "weed waist"?Cannabis is zero-calorie, unlike alcohol which is loaded with calories, it's almost like drinking gasoline in that regard, plenty for your body to burn or store as fat
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Comment #7 posted by runruff on May 16, 2013 at 11:01:07 PT
I believe this is true.
I am thinner and healthier at 66 than former Drug Czar William Bennett was at 46. I brag you not!I'm better looking too!I have been a regular pot smoker since I was 17 but I never gambled and left alcohol alone at an early age. 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 16, 2013 at 09:50:09 PT
Comment 3
It is painful, Sam.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on May 16, 2013 at 09:47:44 PT
When Justice makes itself visible to them.
When Justice advances on them, prohibitionists will plead ignorance.They didn't know. But what about all these positive studies and the "anecdotal" evidence?Are you looking to someone else to tell you what to think about all this? Are you dismissing all these studies and experiences without any serious consideration? Ignoring them? Choosing ignorance? On purpose? Why?Are you laughing at these studies? Like a fool?Are you looking to someone you think is a lot smarter than you are to tell you to end the persecution and end prohibition? Waiting? While some people suffer terribly. Unjustly.Do you have any respect for justice? When will you be able to tell the difference between what is right and what is wrong? Can you tell the difference between smart and stupid?How about black and white?
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on May 16, 2013 at 09:33:19 PT
I believe this is true.
Regular Marijuana Users May Be Skinnier, Have Better Blood Sugar Control: Study's a terrible evil to punish people for using this plant.You so called "Leaders", "Representatives", law enforcement, and other prohibitionists in high places. You who are causing so much grief to those who wish to use cannabis, I'd like to ask you something. Where is justice?Prohibitionists. Someday justice is going to catch up with you. The sooner the better. 
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on May 16, 2013 at 09:04:29 PT
this is not legalization
so painful to watch this unfold, with 100% tax how can they possibly shut down the black market?
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on May 16, 2013 at 07:23:18 PT
If it ain't broke don't fix it!
Public trough feeders...Dey haff der vays. 
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on May 16, 2013 at 07:08:53 PT
Is Mr. Mark Kleiman playing doctor?
""Another would be limiting medical marijuana to people who are actually sick," said Kleiman"But, you are not a medical doctor, then why would you, Mr. Kleiman even come up with a suggestion like this. Does this not show that you are a liar and a quack?Very clever to let somone like Kleiman implement the will of the voters if you don't want medicinal or legal marijuana!
Pot Farm
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