Dormancy

So, this blog went into hiatus again two months after I got it back in gear, due to a combination of offline stress with absence of reliable internet. If I get back to a position where I’m able to write again, I will get at least a month’s lead on the work before I actually start publishing.

See you anon.

Fish of the Day is Banker’s Bass

High Times

A portrait of the President as a young man.

So this is a really big one:

The Obama administration will soon announce regulations to make it easier for banks to do business with legal marijuana sellers, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.

“You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system,” Holder said during an appearance at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. “There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash—substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective.”

I linked two pieces yesterday discussing the arrant hypocrisy of allowing every major international bank to launder billions in cartel money while also permitting every bank in Colorado to turn away legal, legitimate, cannabis businesses. Well, the effects of legalisation are already being felt; the sheer turn-over of the first two weeks has forced Holder to move much more quickly on the banking issue than anyone saw coming.

“We’re in the process now of working with our colleagues at the Treasury Department to come up with regulations that will deal with this issue,” Holder said. He added that the new rules were likely to emerge “very soon” and were not intended to amount to a blessing of marijuana by the federal government. “It is an attempt to deal with a reality that exists in these states,” he said.

My emphasis. This is why legalisation from below is such a good idea in a Madisonian democracy.

Hat tipped to the good folks of /r/timetolegalize once again: Good catch!

Roll up! Roll up! (part 2)

The ‘dogs not barking’ news for this week is that they’re rolling up, smoking bowls and having a high old time in the Rockies, and yet the zombie apocalypse has not yet arrived. In addition to President Obama’s recent foray into rational commentary in the New Yorker, there’ve been a whole bunch of other developments.

Note that Britain remains staunchly unaffected by this wave of rational policy-making. Shocker.

That’s a lot of rolling balls.

H/t to PolicyMic, who found this map and then had a look around the events it documents. Well worth a read.

1. State by State by Nation
This week brought news that Bill Gates supported legalisation in Washington State in 2012, and continues to support the process. We’ve got legislative agendas making the news in a whole bunch of places: Indiana, Maryland, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Oh, and Finland. A note of caution is that none of these are laws yet; but several of them may well become so. As I suggested last post, President Obama seems to be quite happy to let We, The People force him into doing the right thing; and I think it’s good political strategy. I suspect that at the point where there are more states with medical marijuana than without, we might see some actual machinery get into gear in the halls of power. It’s worth noting also that we only need a couple more states for that to happen.

Continue reading ‘Roll up! Roll up! (part 2)’

Roll Up, Roll Up! (part 1)

It’s been a week or so since I’ve had the keyboard time to work on the blog, and a great deal has been happening. So it’s time for an analysis of the headline news, followed in a second post by an epic link-dump.

Obama Cares?

This is a smart guy, even when I disagree with him.

Mr. President

President Obama may not be the liberal I and many others hoped he was, but I am increasingly convinced that he’s a very smart guy, and sneaky enough to impress Thomas Cromwell. Given the unprecedented (literally, by the numbers) obstructionism he’s faced on the Hill, the fact that he’s got anything done at all in the last five years is impressive. Everyone’s been watching him like a hawk throughout his second term to see what signals he’d send about federal response to Colorado and Washington passing ballot-legalisation measures for cannabis. Until after the Colorado regulation regime went into effect on 1st January, he said very little and most of not overwhelmingly positive, allowing the Beltway Bandits to fulminate on behalf of the Executive Branch. Then recently he said something very different:

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
    - Interview by David Remnick of the New Yorker

Continue reading ‘Roll Up, Roll Up! (part 1)’

More Smoked Salmond: “Scottish Independence for the Common Man”

Chris Naden:

Good analysis of the Independence question here from Politicoid.

Originally posted on politicoid:

Scottish-independence-Yes-campaign-to-be-launched

I’m finally getting around to the subject of Scottish Independence. I was really a bit lost on how to start this; I mean, it seems like there’s just so bastard much to consider, right? Currency, the EU, welfare… For what seems now to have been a shockingly long period of time, I couldn’t even understand the question. Identifying as I do with the term ‘British’ as much as I do ‘Scottish’, it seemed, well, just unnecessary.

View original 1,385 more words

Perverse Incentives IV: Economies of Forced Labour

[ US & Them I - Us & Them II - Us & Them III - Us & Them IV ]

No other society in human history has ever imprisoned so many of its own citizens for the purpose of crime control.
                Marc Mauer, The Race to Incarcerate

cannabis-handcuffsThe US state of California imprisons more people than the Federal Bureau of Prisons. That state alone incarcerates more citizens than France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined. The United States as a whole imprisons nearly two million people. The US locks up, proportionately and absolutely, more of its citizens than Soviet Russia under Stalin. Estimates vary, but a likely figure is that half of those prisoners are non-violent marijuana users, and that’s why California locks up so many people. The primary enforcement regime for pot possession busts is administrated via state and local policing.

Eric Schlosser was writing about this at the Atlantic as early as 1998:

The prison boom in the United States is a recent phenomenon. Throughout the first three quarters of this century the nation’s incarceration rate remained relatively stable, at about 110 prison inmates for every 100,000 people. In the mid-1970s the rate began to climb, doubling in the 1980s and then again in the 1990s. The rate is now 445 per 100,000; among adult men it is about 1,100 per 100,000. During the past two decades roughly a thousand new prisons and jails have been built in the United States.

In other words, that explosion in incarceration tracks precisely with the increasingly punitive history of US drug prohibition. Continue reading ‘Perverse Incentives IV: Economies of Forced Labour’

Perverse Incentives III: Alcohol, Tobacco and FUD

[ US & Them I - Us & Them II - Us & Them III - Us & Them IV ]

This is not, in fact, an essay about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; they fit neatly into the Beltway enforcement establishment I described two posts back. This is a post about the two of those things which do not provide evening news headlines for ATF bosses to make political hay out of. Representing industrial drug-merchants like Phillip Morris and AB Inbev, Big Booze and Big Tobacco lobbies are significant contributors to the propaganda campaign that underpins the War on Drugs, and just like Big Pharma, they’ve got skin in the game.

Profit Motive

Big Tobacco's 7 Dwarfs, 1994

Big Tobacco, 1994

I mentioned before that as early as 1972, the US Government’s own experts were reporting that were cannabis legal, alcohol use rates would fall by up to 25%. As far as the Big Booze lobby is concerned, I could end the article here: a 25% drop in market value would make even Inbev wince. Big Tobacco has a more complicated problem with marijuana; more or less every lie they told about tobacco back in the day is true of cannabis. The tobacco lobby used to claim tobacco was good for you, which it isn’t: but cannabis has well-understood health benefits. The tobacco lobby used to claim tobacco didn’t give you cancer; cannabis is believed to inhibit cancer formation. Basically, Big Tobacco have been pushing the wrong drug all this time, and the world has rolled on far enough that they’re getting called on it.

But simultaneously, Big Tobacco care less, and spend less, than the beer brewers: if cannabis were widely legalised, no industrial superpowers are better placed to move into that market than tobacco companies. They already operate a vast industry based around a semi-tropical crop; and marijuana is much easier and cheaper to grow, harvest and package than tobacco, which is notoriously prone to horticultural misadventure and is tricky to store. To the beer giants, the competitive threat posed by the specter of cannabis legalisation is more direct, and it has kept the big booze concerns reaching for their cheque-books, year after year, for decades.

Continue reading ‘Perverse Incentives III: Alcohol, Tobacco and FUD’


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Per Argument Ad Astra

Politics, history, economics and rampant speculation from a victim of the Great Recession, currently at large in the West Midlands.

"When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters."
                -- Adam Smith


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