legal marijuana legalization in OregonIn their book, Think Like A Freak 1 Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner coined the term, “ teaching the garden to weed itself.”   A  basic concept of determining guilt  with a little bit of wit and game theory whereby the guilty reveal themselves.

An example is given in their Freakonomics podcast 2  about Van Halen and their contractual road staff.  Written in every Van Halen contract was a clause that required a bowl of  M&Ms with all the brown ones removed. 3 For years it was assumed that  this was a little bit of Rock Star showmanship like blowing up hotel toilets or eating bats.  It turns out the removal of the brown M&Ms had a practical purpose.  Van Halen, known for its large stage shows, were growing increasingly concerned about their own safety.

If the members of Van Halen arrived to a show with an M&M bowl with brown M&Ms they had reason to expect their contract hadn’t been properly and meticulously followed. Thus the concept, “Teaching the Garden to Weed Itself.”

This article is ostensibly about The Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative that will be on the November 4th statewide ballot in Oregon.  Conceptually the article is about the concept adapted from Mr. Levitt to describe teaching the weed garden to feed itself.

Prohibition of marijuana has been a devotion to specializing in failure.  Marijuana is and has never been harmful enough to justify the resources devoted to prohibiting it.  Prohibition has created inefficiencies within the marketplace that completely waste service time from law enforcement, create violence around the world, and eliminate viable business opportunities for producers and retailers. Given the construct of this article, this is an example of the garden starving itself.

We need to look for places in the marketplace where our system is pulling in opposition to i tself and turn it in the right direction. We need to Teach the Weed Garden to Feed Itself.


Measure 91 will be on the November 4, 2014 statewide ballot in Oregon. The initiative legalizes marijuana for people ages 21 and older.  It would allow possession of up to eight ounces of pot and up to 4 pot plants. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would regulate the sale.


Retired Chief Federal Prosecutor Kris Olson

Retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Bill Riggs

Richard Harris, a former director of Addiction and Mental Health Services.

Drug Policy Action has donated approximately $930,000 to Measure 91. 5 Drug Policy Action is the political arm of Drug Policy Alliance who helped write Measure 91 and was reportedly active in Colorado and Washington.  George Soros is on the board and donates 5 million per year.  Reasons for legalizing Marijuana?

  1. Reduced law enforcement costs.
  2. Reduce the violence and influence of the drug cartels.
  3. Taxation to provide more money for youth education.
  4. A black market is an economic black hole
  5. Disproportionate criminalization of youth, minorities, the poor.
  6. Abstinence is the lack of an idea.

lawenforcementedit“Last year in Oregon, there were 13,000 citations and arrests for marijuana,” he says,“That takes time, time better spent solving murders, rape cases, finding missing children. The system’s broken.” 6.

-Pete Tutmark (Former Sheriff’s Deputy)

This study 7 by CA NORML estimates that California could save up to 150 million a year in costs related to marijuana arrests, prosecutions and prison costs.  Crime rates in Colorado are down since legalization. 8 Any hope that evidence links marijuana use to an increase in crime are quickly evaporating.

We are putting citizens out of work and using resources that could be for their care for a crime that has no victim. This is a prime example of how we can remove a costly inefficiency from our system.


There is demand for marijuana.

Marijuana is a schedule one drug.

In between those two statements there is  a black market for marijuana. That black market is like a black hole for jobs, business opportunities, and government money.  Who fills this hole? People who have the opportunity to make it, and the means to smuggle it.

This article 9. puts marijuana sales to be 60% of Mexican drug cartel’s profit.  Drug trafficking in Latin America has ravaged its cities and cost tens of thousands of innocent lives.  This was a major factor in Uruguay’s decision to legalize marijuana in 2013.

“In no part of the world has repression of drug consumption brought results. It’s time to try something different.” 10-Uruguayan president José Mujica

This is a perfect example of the Garden that Starves Itself.  Prohibition has created a demand for an illegal product. The illegal product is made at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, not to mention jobs and tax revenue.


Nerdwallet, an affectionately named number crunching business, projects a 3.1 billion dollar addition to federal tax revenue if every state in the union legalizes marijuana. 11. This fall 57,000 of the U.S.’s poorest children will be denied access to the Head Start program because of a 400 million dollar cut to the agency’s 8 billion dollar budget. 12.

This is unconscionable.

Nerdwallet’s study factors in the population over 25 that smoked marijuana in the past month, number of marijuana smokers, states’ percentage of pot market, pot market size, combined sales and rate tax, and excise tax.

In 6 months Colorado has collected 25 million dollars. They project 70 million dollars by next June which is still in line with  Nerdwallet’s study projecting 78 million dollars by the same date in June.  Nerdwallet projects Oregon at 54 million in tax revenue.

Is There Even an Opposition?

The transition for Colorado and Washington has gone smoothly in the court of national public opinion. However, there are have been some bumps in the road. Specifically the city of Fife, Washington. A city with a population of 10,000  who decided to throw a rock in the giant’s eye by denying a business license for a local grower citing marijuana’s legality conflict with federal law. 13The player on the stage is City Attorney Loren Combs.

“The law is the law,” Combs said. “The City Council has directed us to uphold the law.”

This is a form of rhetoric which seeks out two slightly different statements to form a feedback loop whereby two statements appear to support each other and create an almost impenetrable bond that cannot be broken.  Ultimately, it means nothing.

Are the City of Fife and Mr. Combs really concerned with inconsistencies with State and Federal Law? Or did they see a spotlight and simply step into it?

What is interesting to me is all the little tremors and repercussions of this change in the law. How many more City of Fifes will there be?

Washington State just issued its first 24 retail marijuana shop licenses. 14. As outlined here,  A license to sell marijuana could be worth millions. 15. The supply for “legal” weed is still far away from supply catching up to demand.  Even if it was, prohibition has left the market completely open and free of competition. In Colorado and Washington we’ve already seen businesses being built over night like an episode of Deadwood.

This is the new small business plan.

In 2012, Colorado published this report on marijuana arrests. 16. The results were shocking. Despite reporting a lower use of marijuana, African Americans were arrested at 3.1 times and Latinos at 1.5 times their white counterparts.   Arrests also disproportionately affected people under 25. A marijuana charge created a criminal history record which was easily searchable for potential employers, credit applications, and essential services which placed lifelong barriers for a minor crime with little or no influence on a society’s crime rate.

This is our future labor force.  If we want that labor force to be strong, we don’t want to arbitrarily shrink our pool of applicants.  There are brilliant kids who could have been the next [ insert] and saved [insert] by [insert].  We need our system to be developing talent not destroying it.


Marijuana testing is part of regulating the industry. This allows for a greater knowledge of the strain, flavor, and potency of the product.  This is especially important for edibles which have been known to vary widely in potency.  Which has led to some of the greatest moments in the internet history such as his:

…but is generally considered to be something most people want to avoid.

The financial crisis changed the economic landscape.  There is a generation of lost children who went to college but were never given the future they were promised.  An economic transition that has crippled a generation.  Legalizing marijuana is an opportunity. Most importantly this is a business opportunity. This is the first promising sign in our economy for new starts since 2007.  This our first step towards creating efficiency within our network. This is the day the garden begins to feed itself.

Live life. Smoke Trees.

  1. Levitt, Steven D.. Think like a freak. New York : Recorded Books, 2014. Print.
  2. “What Do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast.”Freakonomics RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <>.
  3. “Brown Out.” Van Halen Contract Required Brown M&Ms. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <
  4. “Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative, Measure 91 (2014).” – Ballotpedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <
  5.  Mapes, J. (2014). Oregon marijuana legalization: Campaign receives another $300,000 from group tied to George Soros. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  6.  Chokshi, N. (2014). A 33-year police veteran stars in Oregon’s new $2M marijuana legalization ad campaign.  Washington Post. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  7. Gieringer, D. (2014). Benefits of Marijuana Legalization in California | California NORML. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  9.  Author, U. (2014). Available at: Gieringer, D. (2014). Benefits of Marijuana Legalization in California | California NORML. Available at: . [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  10.  Dangl, B. (2014). On Uruguay’s Legalization of Marijuana » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names. Available at:
  11.  Raghavan, D. (2014). Cannabis Cash: How Much Money Could Your State Make From Marijuana Legalization?. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  12.   Burwell, S. (2014). The Numbers Are In: Sequestration Cuts 57,000 Kids from Head Start | Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  14.  Johnson, G. (2014). Washington state issues 24 marijuana shop licenses.  The Big Story. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  15.  Dokoupil, T. (2014). Washington State’s First Licensed Marijuana Business For Sale – NBC News. NBC News. Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
  16. Levine, H. (2014). Available at:,000-Marijuana-Arrests-In-Colorado.pdf [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014
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