DEA launched “Operation Shattered” in Washington State last week to crack down on Washington residents manufacturing butane hash oil (BHO) at home. Eight Washingtonians were named in the federal indictment concerning open-loop, indoor extraction explosions in four cities that injured many and led to the death of the former mayor of Bellevue who broke her hip trying to escape the resulting fire from a nearby explosion. But on Monday, King County law enforcement raided the home of Debbie Brechler and Josh Mauk, the owners of Home Blown Concentrates. While the two operate their extraction business at home, they use a closed-loop system in an outdoor setting, which has not been shown to lead to explosion. Nevertheless, “home-based manufacturing of THC remains illegal under state law, even with the passage of Initiative 502,” according to Mark Lindquist, Pierce County Prosecutor. Brechler and Mauk are charged with reckless endangerment, manufacture of a controlled substance, and unlawful possession of a firearm and remain in police custody.
The Oregon Legislative Revenue Office is estimating tax revenues from legal marijuana to be just 41% of what legalization proponents predicted. A study commissioned by New Approach Oregon by the firm ECONorthwest estimated annual tax revenues of $38.5 million in the first year of its proposed marijuana legalization, but the LRO is estimating only $16 million. The Legislature’s estimate predicts fewer pot tourists than ECONorthwest does and no immediate drop in prices, concluding that two-thirds of Oregon’s tokers will stick with their black market sources, where ECONorthwest estimated only 60% would stay on the black market. LRO also estimates that regulatory costs for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission would total $7 million, bringing the net revenue down to just $9 million per year.
Lobbying by the ski industry has now forced Colorado regulators to invent new icons for designating marijuana edible potency. The state task force tasked with regulating labeling and packaging of edibles had suggested copying the signage associated with the difficulty of ski runs – green circles for “easy”, blue squares for “medium”, and black diamonds for “expert”. But Colorado Ski Country, the trade group for ski resorts, doesn’t want to be associated with marijuana in any way. They lobbied for and got added to the regulations a ban on marijuana products being labeled with “signs or symbols associated with another Colorado business or industry.” Read broadly, this could mean edibles couldn’t be distinguished by numbers of stars or “thumbs-up” (like rating movies), any numeric scale (like rating hotels), or even terms like “mild”, “medium”, and “strong” (like salsa or coffee).
Decriminalization initiatives for the November ballot in New Mexico’s two largest cities are facing opposite outcomes. Officials in Sante Fe on Friday certified about half of over 7,000 signatures submitted as valid, but the 3,569 valid signatures are well short of the 5,763 needed to make the ballot. However, City Clerk Yolanda Vigil said petitioners still had almost two more months to submit the 2,194 remaining signatures. Also, the Santa Fe City Council tonight will consider approving the initiative, which would reduce marijuana possession to a mere $25 fine. Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, activists on Monday turned in over 16,000 signatures for what they were told by the city was a goal of 11,203 valid signatures. Yesterday, City Attorney David Tourek said the city made a mistake in arithmetic and supporters actually need 14,218 valid signatures. Even with the mistake, the city clerk’s staff estimated about 57% of the signatures were valid, putting the Albuquerque effort on pace for roughly 9,000 signatures. Monday was the deadline for Albuquerque’s signatures.
Marijuana prohibition just can’t catch a break in the media these days. While the New York Times continues its excellent series of pro-legalization editorials this week, and while the Los Angeles Times has been exposing the scam of drug courts, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has been battering prohibition with pesky facts and science. In Tuesday’s column, former Pew Research and Brookings Institute data journalist Christopher Ingraham explains how “Medical marijuana opponents’ most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research.“ In it, he shows how the what-about-the-children?!? scaremongering used by Florida’s opponents of medical marijuana flies in the face of fifteen years of data showing medical marijuana laws don’t affect teenage marijuana use rates. In today’s “The federal government’s incredibly poor, misleading argument for marijuana prohibition,” Ingraham eviscerates the ONDCP’s response to the recent New York Times editorials calling for legalization. For every argument about marijuana’s effect on developing teen brains he notes “same is true for alcohol and tobacco” and that’s “a solid argument for a minimum age and moderate use.”