Power Lunch–Marijuana Debate


Thoughtful questions answered, for the most part, intelligently.  Thumbs Up from this reviewer.

What does anyone know about the decriminalization of marijuana in Alaska?  This was brought up by anti marijuana debater, Former DEA head, Asa Hutchinson.  If legalization (in effect) didn’t work once, why? I’d like to know more.

According to one questioner, 10 billion dollars were spent fighting marijuana last year.  Where did those numbers come from?  Anyone know?

The same speaker is saying that it costs $400 to produce a pound of pot.  Is that true?  I think indoor is costing more than that.



  • What didn’t work in Alaska? Legalizing marijuana?
    Not so.
    In 1975, Alaska removed all penalties for possession of one ounce or less. Sales of one ounce is only a misdemeanor. The Alaska Supreme Court decision – “Ravin V State” – set the standard which is still observed today despite anti-marijuana attempts by some lawmakers. For example, a 2006 anti-cannabis piece of legislation was passed but still remains inoperative today.
    In other words, Alaska is still pot-friendly when compared to a lot of other states.
    I hope this helps.

  • Thank goodness that ten billion went to stopping that evil marijuana stuff instead of to something insignificant like, oh, I dunno, education? Battered women and children shelters? Healthcare for the disenfranchised? Renewable energy sources? Body armor for some of the kids getting shot up overseas? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  • I would like to see an end to its prohibition, but there are questions persists in my thinking: if it were legalized and taxed, would people be able to grow their own at home without being taxed or would they have to pay for an agricultural permit? How would taxation be implemented?

  • sorry, I meant there are questions that persist in my thinking:

  • Alaska is well known for personal freedoms. One of the personal freedoms taken very seriously in Alaska is the right to privacy. Dave mentioned Ravin v. Alaska which set the bar at 25 plants and 1 ounce which incur no criminal penalty. This is “legal” in the same way that 5 plants and 30 grams incur no criminal penalty in the Netherlands. Strictly speaking, Alaska never legalized cannabis.

    Governor Palin would love to criminalize marijuana by circumventing the right to privacy. So far, nothing has really happened. The cops won’t arrest people for having a few grams in their pocket. Border patrol will normally confiscate a few grams and write a ticket (unless you look Middle Eastern). It does depends how far into Alaska you are. A driving force for tolerance is tourism and touristy areas seem to be more open about selling bud.

    The bottom line is nobody ever went to Alaska just to get weed unless they had taken a severe detour on the way to British Columbia.

  • Dave and Mr. Nice, Hutchinson referenced the Alaska decriminalization not working. I’m guessing that is the 2006 bill that “passed but still remains inoperative today.” I’ve heard about but not had time to track down the Portugal decriminalization which is supposedly working well. I think that includes harder drugs such as Cocaine.

    Max, How about we use that 10 billion a year to pay off some of the national debt, shelter the homeless, and provide healthcare. I could get really angry if I let myself. I would like to see where the numbers come from though.

    Carol, There is a provision in the new AB390 (which has been tabled til after Jan 2010) that would allow people to grow their own but I have a call in to Ammiano’s office to try and parse out the meaning. (I originally thought that one could only grow 10 plants period which would be good for Humboldt but now I think one can grow up to 10 plants for personal use without paying taxes. Hopefully, I’ll hear from Ammiano soon.)

    Here is the relevant section

    It is unlawful for a person not licensed pursuant to Chapter 14.5 (commencing with Section 25400) of Division 9 of the Business and Professions Code to cultivate marijuana, except in compliance with the following requirements:

    (a) Marijuana may be cultivated only by persons 21 years of age or older.

    (b) Marijuana may be cultivated only in a location in the home or yard in which the marijuana is not visible from any public place. For purposes of this paragraph, “public place” does not include air space, or any place from which a viewer would violate the cultivator’s legitimate expectation of privacy.

    (c) Each person 21 years of age or older may have in cultivation no more than 10 mature plants at any given time.

    (d) A licensed nursery may cultivate seedlings for sale to persons 21 years of age or older, but shall destroy any seedling if it has not been purchased by a consumer before it reaches maturity.

    (e) Aside from the sale of seedlings by a licensed nursery, marijuana cultivated pursuant to this section may not be sold.

    (f) The presence of persons younger than 21 years of age in a household does not affect the lawfulness of the cultivation of marijuana under this division.

  • Hi Max, good to see you!

  • I appreciate all your effort and research, Kym. Thank you! Keep up the good blogging!


  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/hemp-bill-introduced-in-c_n_182880.html tells us: “A bipartisan group of agitating members of Congress introduced legislation Thursday to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp.”

  • I’ll be interested to see where this bill goes.

  • The ‘chronic(le) had an update on Ammiano’s bill (link here) and another good (link here) one on the status of legalizing. What stuck out was the news that 40+% of ‘mericans have tried the stuff.

  • OMR, Thanks. That first link especially is a good one. I was just sitting down to interview Mecke from Ammiano’s office and that helped.

  • “The data show that, judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalization framework has been a resounding success. Within this success lie self-evident lessons that should guide drug policy debates around the world.” http://cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10080

  • I’ve just touched on the Portugese decriminalization. I want to know more. I also heard this morning that Mexico was thinking of decriminalizing small amounts. We better hope we’re in the fore front of legalization because otherwise this county is going to be hurt financially anyway.

  • here (http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=5302) is a short report, and link to an mp3 i would love to download from a March 17th The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana policy forum.

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