Pubdate: Sat, 09 Nov 2013
Source: Aspen Times, The  (CO)
Copyright: 2013 Aspen Times
Author: Tony Vagneur


Greed, gluttony and dominance are not attractive words, although they 
ring with a beauty that makes their meanings unmistakable. The three 
words don't necessarily go together unless one contemplates the 
ubiquitous reach of our government and then a certain connection can 
be made, particularly in the latest marijuana melee that is eating up 
a lot of headline ink.

"Legalization of marijuana" seems to be the frenzied cry, although 
that title can be misleading. If using THC-laden plants were truly 
legal, we wouldn't be struggling with how to tax and control it. 
Anyway you cut it, and like other illegal drugs, marijuana's still a 
"controlled substance," just by the very nature of the laws we're 
creating to control it. The advantage, I suppose, is that with 
marijuana's "legalization," you might not rot in jail the next 20 
years for sucking up a toke or two.

The bottom line is, we're talking about weed, for God's sake. If only 
Canada thistle could generate such enthusiasm. Years ago, some 
paranoid pot head threw a loose bag of laughing grass in an Aspen 
irrigation ditch, maybe on an imaginary run from the boys in blue 
and, for years thereafter, those in the know were harvesting 
high-powered leaves from the consequent gift from the gods.

In the pursuit of full disclosure, I should mention that marijuana, 
legal or otherwise, has very little bearing on my life. I don't use 
the stuff and don't anticipate doing so in the near future, but it 
does get thrown in my face every once in a while.

I'm not so naive that I can't recognize the distinctive smell of a 
burning butt, and in the course of a winter, I sometimes get on the 
ski lift with those who smell precisely like the burned-out bowl of a 
recently smoked pipe.

Further, it should be noted that I have been running grow operations 
for years, starting in Woody Creek, sometimes on McLain Flats and 
most recently in Emma and Woody Creek, both. For decades, my partners 
and I have managed to raise some very fine leafy substances, high in 
nutrition and robust with flavor and fiber.

Alfalfa, orchard grass and timothy grow almost as well in this 
climate as Mary Jane.

We've managed to grow our grasses in the great outdoors, hundreds of 
acres at a time, without the need for greenhouses or other contrived 
monstrosities. Why marijuana production requires a different paradigm 
for farm success stymies the imagination, unless it's swollen ego and 
inexperience on the part of the growers, especially when such plants 
grow so well they are difficult to eradicate once started.

In the grower's defense, I guess it could be said that if you're used 
to raising illegal pot in your basement bedroom then you probably 
have no idea how to grow it outside in the sunshine.

Let's face it - ranchers sell quality hay (the grass kind, with stems 
and buds, oh, never mind) year-round - without zoning changes or 
artificial environments.

As we speak, someone is contemplating a commercial marijuana farm in 
pastoral and bucolic Snowmass Canyon, complete with huge, 
shiny-topped greenhouses; another producer has approval to put in a 
greenhouse near the heart of Basalt and the public schools.

Locating on such prime real estate obviously indicates a huge faith 
in the amount of return possible once January arrives.

I reckon gas is too costly for them to deliver the bales, lids and 
loafs up from less-expensive real estate locales.

It all sounds like a fool's folly, and I'm glad I'm not bankrolling those boys.

I digress.

Back to greed, gluttony and dominance.

Never willing to miss a chance at fattening its coffers, the Colorado 
state government, per Tuesday's election and the will of the 
electorate, is now empowered to charge up to a 25 percent tax on 
dope, excise and retail combined.

On an ounce currently worth around $200, that puts the price in the 
neighborhood of $250. Add on state sales tax of 2.9 percent, plus 
other local taxes, and we're no longer talking a cheap high. 
Naturally, the only way to collect such an exorbitant tax is to place 
strict controls on the supply and sale of reefer, making distribution 
difficult, if not impossible.

The government, in its own greedy and gluttonous way, is surely 
putting weed back in the hands of the black market, where it appears 
it will be most comfortable. Welcome to the legalization of marijuana...
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom