Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Up In Smoke

There was an interesting ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court this week which has shattered the dream of potheads everywhere. In fact, things are not going as they hoped in any way. How sad.

The ruling in question involved whether or not private employers could fire someone for using marijuana on their own time. In 6-0 decision, the court ruled that private employers could fire such people. What’s more, this ruling involved a man who was in a wheel chair and used pot for medical purposes to stop spasms. If any case was likely to go the other way, this would have been it.

Now there is a caveat I’ll explain in a minute, but what this means is simple. When pot was legalized, the activists (“Dave’s not here, man!”) thought this would mean that they had received the official seal of approval and no-consequence from the state. In other words, they could now smoke pot however they wanted without anyone being able to punish them. This ruling blows a huge hole in that. This ruling says that pot will now be treated as any other public vice. The state can’t ban you from using it, but other citizens can shun you for doing so. In this case, that means employers can fire you for using it, just like they can fire you for any other number of reasons that they consider to be inconsistent with the work environment they wish to provide.

This was shocking to activists, who wrongly thought that legalization would essentially equate to pot use being put into a special category like race, religion or sex, and carry with it immunity.

Add to this other rulings by various courts which say the government can regulate the crap out of pot and what you get is exactly the situation that pot activists used to sell legalization, but which they really didn’t think they would need to live with: a heavily regulated product that is expensive, underwhelming in quality, and comes without legal immunity from use.

Even more interestingly, the two states that have legalized pot (Colorado and Washington) have used the power of regulation to do what regulation does. Washington in particular has made it so expensive and so cumbersome to grow pot that it’s apparently impossible to make a profit doing so. In Colorado it’s more profitable for growers, but there are lots of complaints about the cost and the quality by consumers... which is exactly what regulation does, it makes things less available, less advanced/innovative, lower quality and more expensive. And if they think it’s bad now, then just wait until the regulators start treating pot like cigarettes.

Anyways, the caveat on the Colorado Supreme Court ruling is that the ruling was based on pot still being illegal at the federal level. But that’s not ultimately going to matter because there is simply nothing anywhere else in the law which conveys a right on people not to get fired or whatnot based on their leisure activities. So this should ultimately hold up even if federal law changes.

Thoughts?

48 comments:

Rustbelt said...

Okay, I'm just going to say it: if you're entire life- your entire existence and the only thing that can bring meaning to your being- revolves around smoking joints, then you have very limited vision, priorities completely out of whack, and more problems than I care to count.

In other words...you're an idiot!!!! There's more to life than smoking grass, you [expletives deleted]!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the lack of poetic eloquence, but there, I said it and I'd say it again.

Kit said...

"This was shocking to activists, who wrongly thought that legalization would essentially equate to pot use being put into a special category like race, religion or sex, and carry with it immunity."

That is what really annoys me about the potheads. The "we are an oppressed minority, man," attitude among them.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

You called it years ago, Andrew.
And you are right, reefer madness is gonna get a lot more expensive than it is now, and those who thought that govt. would make it less expensive are gonna be really mad.

Big Tobacco will be replaced by Big Pot, and the taxes will get exponentially higher.
Doesn't exactly smell like victory to me, for the pot smokers who were dancing in the street not too long ago.

Of course, employers will be the ones that most pot smokers will blame.

Robert L. Hedd said...

Andrew.......Exactly right. The old - You wanted the State to control your habit, well here you go!

Stoners seem just like drunks. You can't go out and drink on your break so you can't go out and smoke a joint on your break. If all this did was to cut the paranoia of potheads when they light up at home, then no problem. Unfortunately for them, the 'activists' want to try and force everyone else to agree to their views. The public backlash against these fools will be quick. In the form of higher and higher taxes.

States will see taxing pot as another revenue enhancer and raise the taxes on it until it becomes prohibitive. Then the state, Obama/Hillary, will pander to the potheads ("What about the poor?! They can't afford pot now. It's too expensive. We need to help them out by providing them POT cards and subsidize their 'disability.')

Sure is a different world these days from when smoking pot was cool and anti "The Man."

Bob

Anthony said...

All that stuff is just growing pains. As pot becomes more accepted, government restrictions will fall away and private censure will get dicier (firing a guy who is using it for medical reasons and whose use isn't impacting his job performance will become tough for companies from a PR standpoint).

Pot being treated like alcohol and tobacco is the best one could reasonably expect and is fine and good, because its better to have marijuana companies battling each other with commercials than marijuana dealers shooting it out in the streets.

Even setting aside the crime element, I imagine for week smokers, the sort of predictability imposed by regulation is to a point a good thing. Look at alcohol. Sometimes one wants to have a beer (comparatively little alcohol) sometimes one wants a shot of grain alcohol (too much for me even back in the days when I drank, but I've seen it done). Having wildly different products (different potencies, mixed with other stuff, etc) sold in the same 'packaging' must make the user experience very unpredictable.

Critch said...

Colorado was one of the first states to limit smoking tobacco, and that was way back in the 70s,,,all that "progressivism" is coming back to haunt the libs in the form of "we can fire you for smoking dope also."

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, LOL! So true. Most dope heads are what a friend of mine calls "oxygen thieves" because they have nothing to offer the rest of us and they are just wasting resources.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, What I find funny, and what this ruling undoes, is the attitude of "we should be allowed to do this and nobody should be able to say anything." Well, too bad, there isn't going to be a free pass for smoking pot because it will never be a protected activity.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! In truth, this has all be very predictable. When you regulate something, you make it more expensive and lower quality. So the "regulate it like alcohol" argument really contained within it an unhappy destiny.

And you're right, there will soon be a Big Pot and it will be a couple of companies (probably cigarette companies actually) who grow it and sell it. And states will tax the hell out of it to pay for schools or whatever, and thee pot heads will be very upset.

Moreover, over time, pot will become more and more like cigarettes as the novelty of granting freedom wears off. Soon enough, the regulators will make it exactly like cigarettes, and the public will make pot smokers pariahs like smokers.

You are right about them blaming employers, but it won't matter. Their ability to get things (like sympathy) from the public ends at legalization.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Bob!

You wanted the State to control your habit, well here you go!

Exactly. You get what you ask for and you get it good and hard. In all honesty, I don't think the pot activists ever thought the government would really regulate it. They thought liberalization meant total freedom and that the regulations would be a handful of things like "don't smoke it near schools, don't sell it to kids, and pay sale tax." They never made the connection that states LOVE to micro manage "sin" products and they never realized that states will do to them what they do to alcohol and cigarettes in other states.

As an aside, that's actually something the limited stakes casinos discovered here. When they passed limited stakes gambling, everyone thought it was going to be a gold rush. But the state regulated it so harshly that it really remains very limited and not super profitable.

In terms of cutting the taxes for the poor, don't forget that the Democrats love to play nanny and tax "bad" things to help the poor, i.e. cigarettes, gambling, soda, fat, sugar. Pot will fall right into that and they will keep raising the taxes to try to fund hospitals and schools.

And that has always been the problem. If a bus driver smokes a joint on a break, people can die. If a programmer does it, you could end up creating bugs that will take thousands of hours to fix. An accountant could get the IRS on your case. And so on. Employers can't allow people to be high at work.

Kit said...

Pothead Kit here,

This is, like, totally the worst thing to happen in America since the Supreme Court told Rosa Parks she had to ride on the roof of the bus or something.

This is just like what we did to Gays during the Bush administration, forcing them to hide who they were and stuff. Unless you were a hot lesbian doing a porno you were oppressed under Bush… [begins drooling over prospect of two hot bisexual chicks going at it]…

… Sorry, lost my car of brain or something there. Anyway, this is totally oppressive. This is like Nazism and stuff. Next they'll be making us weed smokers wear a yellow star or a green star or something.

You know what, maybe we should wear a green plant on our shirts as a form of protest. That will make people realize how this is just like what the Nazis did to the Jews during that big war!

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I think you underestimate the regulatory burden. Here's my thinking...

1. Right now, pot is as protected as it will ever get because it is still basking in the aura of the freedom argument. Once it's legal and people no longer feel there is an unfairness, then people will start to see it as a nuisance, like cigarettes. That's when the public starts voting restrictions on it just like cigarettes. That means limits on where and when you can smoke... 100 ft of a child, second hand smoke, not in bars, not in public, etc.

2. Regulators love to micromanage sin issues. When you see the Stalinist regulations on alcohol and cigarettes in most states, it's easy to see the future for pot... massive controls on how it's made, where it's made, how it's packaged and sold, to whom and with what kinds of protections. Liberal states in particular make it almost impossible to produce alcohol or to buy it.

Colorado, which isn't even all that liberal, has insanely annoying regulations on sellers. For example, a store like Trader Joes can only sell alcohol at one store in the entire state because Colorado provides that no person may own more than one liquor store.

3. Politicians love to tax sins to pay for "goods" like hospitals and schools. They will keep raising the taxes over and over and over because, as with cigarettes, they think smokers will pay anything (highly inelastic demand curve) and it always plays well to tax people the public doesn't like. Cigarette taxes in New York are $4.35 a pack. By comparison, in conservative Missouri, they are $0.17 a pack. Expect states to sit on the NY end of the tax spectrum when it comes to pot.


On the medical use, by the way, I do think that will eventually be protected from termination provided the position doesn't involve a safety issue. I think it will fall under the ADA. But recreational smoking, which is what the pot issue is really about, will never be what the activists wanted.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I remember watching that in Colorado as I grew up and I can tell you that people will still cote for any limitation you offer on smoking. At this point, you can't even smoke in bars. I hear that California is working on or has passed a ban on smoking in public. That will come here too. People hate smokers and they will hate pot heads even more once the freedom argument fades.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, LOL! Yep. That is a pot head all right.

Honestly, my libertarian instincts say that I don't care what you do in your own home, but I also draw limits at where your conduct affects others. And the pot heads wanted a right to be excused from the dangers they represent to others, and they didn't get it.

And now they will face the regulation they used as a selling point... and they're going to hate it.

BevfromNYC said...

Of course this was bound to happen. There is another interesting way to see how employers will have every right. Back in the "olden day" one was held accountable for their behavior outside the office/factory or whatever as a representative of their employer. "A person of good character" was a highly prized description in recommendations.

But for a least 20-30 years, there has been this attitude that it really shouldn't matter what I do outside the workplace. That's MY time and has nothing to do with "The Man". Add to that the emergence of technology, we now have more and more people working remotely and/or carrying various and sundry electronic devices that keep us connected to our employers 24/7/365. So with this new technology comes the blurred lines of when you are on the clock and when you are not. On the other hand, this may bring about the new age of "Mad Men" where there's a free flowing alcohol and pot vending machines. Who knows.

One of the aspects of the open market is that it creates "boutique" markets. If you know anything about fine liquor industry, you will know that there is a huge market for small batch fine vodkas, whiskeys etc. Right now boutique vodkas are out and boutique whiskeys and bourbons are all the rage. This is how I expect the pot trade will shake out one day...then meth, then heroin, then...

Because the bottom line is that we use these things to make ourselves feel better ourselves or to escape our feelings and anxieties. Now that we are supposed to feel good about our gender, race and eventually trans-species choices, I can only imagine that the unintended consequences will be more anxiety and more need to escape from our anxiety.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You are right that there will eventually be boutique markets for pot in some places, but that will only affect a few thousand very rich customers. The rest of the public will find themselves in the heavily regulated generic market. Both will be ultra expensive and the generic pot apparently is crap in terms of quality.

On employers, there does seem to be an attitude among idiots that "you can't punish me for what I do at home!" But employers keep doing it and the public usually supports it.

Look at the ESPN employees who get fired for getting caught naked in public, unwanted sexting, expressing quasi-racist ideas, or the woman who got suspended for yelling at a tow truck driver. You also get constant demands to fire people like Ray Rice, who hit his wife at a casino, the teacher who said she hated white people, etc. Then there are the Facebook firings, where people said stupid things about their jobs or their boss or post pictures of themselves with drugs and got fired. And let me tell you, if you want out of a law firm, get arrested for solicitation or DUI, they will punt your butt the following morning.

I think pot use will fall into this category. If you are stupid enough to post pictures of yourself doing it or end up in the news, then you will be fired.

Kit said...

"And let me tell you, if you want out of a law firm, get arrested for solicitation or DUI, they will punt your butt the following morning."

Actually, Andrew, according to the Laws of Comedy if you do those things with the explicit intention of getting fired your bosses will not only keep you but they will cover the costs of your bail and maybe move you to a "better", but for you more miserable, job.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And, because of the draconian regulation of pot, the black market for pot, will never go away.
Black market pot will mean higher quality pot, and most likely cheaper pot.
In Washington state and NY, for example, there is a growing black market for cigarettes, but it will be much bigger for pot, because potheads want the higher quality pot.

Incidently, nit long ago, the voters of WA voted to privatize liquor stores.
The state flooded the airways before the vote, saying it would raise the cost of alcohol and there would be an increase in DUI's and alcohol abuse.

The result is quite different, however. Booze is much cheaper now, and there has been no increase, thus far, in alcohol realated crimes.
The state still gets to tax booze, but it lost the monopoly it had, and man were the nannynazis pissed! LOL!

BevfromNYC said...

And in NY, our Mayor has not legalized pot because he actually does not have that authority, but he just made possession and sales laws no longer "criminal" because there's just too many people in jails and prisons who have broken some law or another and that's not right.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, True. Assuming we live in a comedy.

Kit said...

"Assuming we live in a comedy."

Have you been reading the news lately? It's downright farcical!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Trust me, once he legalizes it, he'll "Democrat" it, which is wring his hands about the effects on poor people, regulate it to "protect" people and stop business from making money selling it, and tax the living crap out of it to promote health and build schools.

No more .16 ounce joints for you! Only .14 ounce joints! And you better sell it in paper bags, not plastic bags. Oh, and it better not have any transTHC or anything that will make you "too high" in it. Each joint needs a warning label printed on it too... and instructions on how to smoke it... and a legal disclaimer reminding everyone that the Mayor is pretty.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, The booze thing has long been proven in other states, but the nanny states just won't let go. They don't trust their child-like residents to buy alcohol from evil private sellers... in broad daylight!

There will always been a black market for this stuff. Anyone who thought that this would end drug crime was delusional. Not to mention that the vast majority of drug crimes is dope heads stealing things to pay for their habits. That won't change one bit.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The newspapers are their own form of comedy. They don't really report on reality.

tryanmax said...

Everything I could've said on the article has been, so I'll respond this comment from Kit:

That is what really annoys me about the potheads. The "we are an oppressed minority, man," attitude among them.

It's no surprise to me that potheads would try to jump on the identity politics bandwagon. It's a highly effective means to political power. It just didn't work for them because, in spite of racial disparities in incarceration for marijuana, the stereotypical pothead is still an aging white hippie.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Also, don't forget that forming an oppressed identity group is a good motivator to keep your people together. That's why even sports teams do the "no one gives us respect, everyone hates us" bit for motivation. Once you form a little cult of the aggrieved, your followers stop listening to outside voices.

tryanmax said...

"cult of the aggrieved"

I like that.

Too bad it's far too late to form a grunge band.

*buries hands in pockets, kicks dirt*

Kit said...

"tryanmax, Also, don't forget that forming an oppressed identity group is a good motivator to keep your people together. That's why even sports teams do the "no one gives us respect, everyone hates us" bit for motivation. Once you form a little cult of the aggrieved, your followers stop listening to outside voices."

The Nazis did it, too.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax - It is never to late to form a grunge band! As matter of fact, if you just believe that you have always felt that you belonged in a grunge band since birth or before, you can actually BE a grunge band now.

BevfromNYC said...

Btw - "Cult of the Aggrieved" would be a great name for a grunge band...

EPorvaznik said...

Suck it, hippies ... just be careful how much you actually inhale.

Critch said...

Here in Missouri we don't have a lot of liquor laws. I can buy beer, whiskey, wine at a liquor store, or at Kroger, or at Walmart or at the store where I buy my ammo for hunting.....I love it when liberals get to whining about laws they helped to pass..

Rustbelt said...

But EPorvaznik, what if they smoke, but DON'T inhale? :)

Critch said...

All my right wing friends are going crazy over His Holiness' speech tomorrow.

BevfromNYC said...

I have lived in "dry" towns, but never in a jurisdiction where the goverment ran the liquor stores. Interestingly, in London I was shocked at how inexpensive liquor was. A glass of wine and beer averaged about $6. There may be something to this socialist thing!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That would make an excellent grunge band name! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, The really hard core protected us from ourselves places I've found have all been in the East. Apparently, Easterners aren't capable deciding how much they should drink without the government getting involved.

BevfromNYC said...

Critch - Pope Francis' cyclical will be interesting. I can't wait for all the "anti-church" liberals to weigh in.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I'm sure they will be incensed by the Pope no matter what he says. After all, he is a gay commie Mexican or something like that.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, It's not smoke... smoke is bad. Smoke means cigarettes and pollution. It's unicorn farts! :D

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, When I was in the Northeast, New Hampshire ran its stores. Virginia did too, and I believe they still might. There are other states too. And those state owned stores made you feel like a criminal.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - And now with government supplied healthcare, it becomes even more ominous. NYC started allowing liquor store sales on Sunday during the last Bloomberg administration. Ah, those wonderful days of the Bloomberg adminstration that I think on nostalgically about these days...

Critch said...

I feel like Pope Francis must be doing something right because extremists on both ends hate him..

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, That's usually a good sign.

Personally, it strikes me that he's done a great job in helping the Church reach out to people all over the world.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, How sad is that! LOL!

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - At least people are aware that there IS a Pope. Pope Francis is certainly making the Vatican relevant again on the international stage. I love the stories of him calling people who have written to him for "blessings". There is one story where he called this man who wrote to him to ask for prayers for his sick child. The man hung up on him twice before Pope Francis could convince hime that it was really Pope on other end of the telephone call. He has been a great boost to the Catholic Church. Makes me kind of want to write to the Pope just to get a call and I am kind of Jewish!

BevfromNYC said...

Hey, wishing that Bloomberg was back is kind of sad. Even my most ardent Democrat friends are wishing too. Doesn't bode well for a second term for DeBlasio.

EPorvaznik said...

>>But EPorvaznik, what if they smoke, but DON'T inhale? :) >>

Play saxophone and/or become President of the USA.

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