(Summit Daily News) BOULDER — Boulder County Caregivers offers 16 glass jars of marijuana with names like Skinny Pineapple and Early Pearl Maui, priced at $375 to $420 an ounce. There are marijuana capsules and snacks made with cannabis butter, such as rice crispy treats.
Russian palladium today is trading at $250 – $262 per ounce. It is the softest of the platinum group metals and is used in things like catalytic converters, cell phones, and computers. It is a fairly rare material which must be laboriously mined underground. Somehow this valuable useful rare earth metal costs less for the men and machinery to dig up, smelt, process, pack, and ship overseas than the flowers of a locally-grown bush.
I can get a wholesale ounce of Spanish Saffron today for $89.95 wholesale, which sells for a suggested $129.95 retail. Saffron is the individual threads of the saffron flower which must be hand-picked. It grows mostly in Iran and Spain and each flower produces only three threads. It takes 75,000 flowers to produce a pound. Somehow, this valuable useful rare flower costs less for the men to harvest, handpick tiny threads from each individual flower, dry and vacuum pack, and ship overseas than the flowers of a locally-grown bush.
One of the rarest and most expensive cognacs in the world is France’s Remy Martin Cognac Black Pearl Louis XIII. It is made from a 100-year-old fruit brandy and aged in a single barrel that is several centuries old. It sells for $28,000 for a 1.75l bottle, or about $464 per ounce. Somehow, this valuable rare historical luxury liquor costs just a little more for the men to ferment, bottle, and ship overseas than the flowers of a locally-grown bush.
The total is expected to rise to 15,000 by year’s end, according to the state health department, which blames the rapid increase on patient confidentiality guarantees and federal plans to stop raiding medical marijuana operations, which the U.S. government considers illegal.
“Blames” the rapid increase? Shouldn’t that be “credits” the rapid increase? Why is it that when businesses have rapid growth, that’s “growing the economy”, and when government programs have rapid growth, that’s “serving the people”, but when medical marijuana patient rolls rise, that’s “abuse of the system”?
Since December, the average patient age in Colorado has dropped from 42 to 24, raising more questions about abuses.
Yeah, because younger people don’t get glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, migraines, fibromyalgia, etc. Before the dispensaries, what point was there in registering? The older patient and the younger patient would both be growing their own or buying it on the black market. Older patients would be more likely to want to protect their possessions and family and be in better position to pay the fee to the state to be legal. If the average age is down, then it is just normalizing to where it should be without artificial barriers like being forced to buy in an illegal market.
Leigh’s waiting room could be found in a dentist’s office, save for coffee-table reading material that includes a copy of High Times and a Timothy Leary book. Spice jars feature samples of marijuana available for sale. All sales are by appointment only, and Leigh’s business collects about $10,000 in sales tax a month.
Leigh’s patients are mainly middle-aged women with multiple sclerosis and men coping with hepatitis C. One employee said he takes tincture drops to help prevent seizures. A customer, a jiujitsu coach, said he uses it to treat pain from four surgeries and regular fights.
Today Leigh, a self-described soccer and karate mom, has seven employees, offers health insurance and plans to add 401(k) benefits. She worries federal agents might raid her business, even though the Obama administration says the government will stop targeting medical marijuana operations that are in line with state law.
These are good things and don’t think that I oppose dispensaries, because I don’t. If two people want to engage in commerce and agree to ridiculous prices for an herb, I’ll support that to my dying day. What I have a problem with is that it seems that the black market prices and profits are becoming the de facto standard for what people envision from a legal marijuana market. My old weed dealer used to tell me it was the risk of prosecution that justified his outlaw untaxed profits. Now that marijuana is semi-legal in Colorado and California and the feds have backed off, those people making the profits don’t have that risk.
So, then, the high prices and profits must exist because of the risk the rest of us non-medical users and growers and sellers are taking due to marijuana prohibition. The people buying and selling with impunity are profiting from the arrests that ruin the lives of the rest of us and keep the price of a weed at luxury cognac levels.
Cheerleaders of this capitalism tell me that with more dispensaries come more competition and thus, lower prices. With 70 Colorado dispensaries and over 700 California dispensaries, how much longer before that competition factor kicks in?
Here’s my fear: prohibited marijuana supports a myriad of industries and it won’t become legal until those industries can shape legal marijuana into a system where they can continue to make money. “Locking people up” becomes “drug courts” and “mandatory rehab”. “Medical marijuana” becomes “Sativex” or some inhaler. “The guy” who has the hook-up becomes “the doctor” who makes recommendations. “The dealer” becomes “the dispensary”. Nothing changes but the names as cannabis consumers continue to be fleeced for a plant product that should cost as much as grapes or strawberries. Or at least as cheap as saffron.