Benjamin A. Gochberg
Valley Voices

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March 9, 2014
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Vail Daily column: Green rush

A few years ago, I found myself sitting at a bar with a private courier. I didn’t know his name then and don’t care to today. You could call him a drug runner, a money launderer or a criminal, if you were ill informed.

I prefer courier. Everything he did was entirely legal, although at the time seemed to be on the fringe of legality.

There are a few men like him in every community, although I’ve never used the services provided. Totally by chance, we caught ourselves talking economics. At the time, a niche market had developed in the courier business to handle cash transfers for dispensaries. Banks were not banking the dispensaries, and as a result, there was a unique need for cash protection and negotiation. He could charge a premium for his movements in the gray markets.

Now, with recreational marijuana legal for consumption, I thought it might be a good idea to make sure we all knew the facts.

Economic Impacts

A recent study by two economists of the University of Colorado has shown some of the potential economic impacts of the legalization of pot.

First of all, one of the chief concerns regarding cannabis consumption was that it might complement, rather than replace, more harmful substances.

Economists Daniel Rees and D. Mark Anderson found, however, that the leafy greens actually lower the use of alcohol and cigarettes, as well as other drugs.

Medically speaking, the population has some significant potential gains by ditching the drink for the hash. Although alcohol is often consumed publicly and can therefore have a more drastic effect on impaired driving rates, enactment of legalization of pot has also coincided with a decreased percentage of impaired driving fatalities.

The possible conclusion: Legalization of marijuana leads to reduced rates of impaired driving and reduced rates of alcohol consumption.

The laws regarding weed purchase and possession are also worth noting. In Colorado, you can now legally possess up to 1 ounce of the stuff at any given time if you don’t have a medical marijuana card. The card gives you a limit of 2 ounces.

I don’t know how high an ounce of weed can get you, but I would anticipate it would do the job for a week or so if you have a job or other adult activities to attend to. You may purchase, as a state resident, up to 1 ounce per visit. If you happen to be from outside our fair state’s borders, we can only sell you a quarter ounce at a time.

If you would prefer to cultivate your own plants, you can actually grow up to 12 plants per residence. Keep in mind, only three can be flowering at any given time. I recommend checking with your neighbors first, though, especially if that neighbor happens to be me. I’m not much of a fan of the greenhouse smell.

Now, please keep in mind that I’m not advocating the use or non-use of this drug — just giving you the facts.

We Must Be Careful

What I will weigh in on is this: We must be incredibly careful regarding the casual use and proliferation of the drug in the community, especially among minors.

While marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, the private sale of marijuana is still clearly illegal, as is transporting the substance across state lines or using the substance if you are under 21. Honor the law. It’s not worth your future or your still developing frontal lobe.

With the legal purchase option, we should also see a much-anticipated drop in marijuana prices. As private citizens are faced with jail time for purchasing pot illegally at $40 an eighth, or legal purchase at $50 an eighth, the population will choose to purchase legally. Given time, this will eliminate the black and gray markets for weed, and retail prices will continue to drop as volumes increase.

In the meantime, if you are a habitual pot user and are concerned about the affordability of your recreation of choice, then I recommend putting your talents to good use.

The industry needs experts, and at licensing costs of only around $40,000 in Colorado, maybe it’s time you take part in the green rush.

Benjamin A. Gochberg is an Avon resident.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 9, 2014 06:42PM Published Mar 10, 2014 06:31PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.