the line forms early at the grand opening of maggies farm RMJ dispensary in Manitou Springs Co

The lines extend out to the parking lot as Maggie’s Farm’s somehow makes it through the nightmarish legislative gauntlet and becomes the first RMJ dispensary within 50 miles to open its doors to paying customers. Mazel tov!

Those of you familiar with Cannabis Commerce know:

  1. We’re totally down on the vagaries of local legalization and are all-in on repealing federal marijuana prohibition.
  2. I have been on hiatus since a) I began feeling frustrated that no noteworthy national effort to repeal federal marijuana seemed to be underway; and b) I have been engaged in a long and protracted creative project that, unlike the pace of marijuana legalization, I have the power to control.
  3. I promised that I would check back in when I had something positive to report.

Well, I have a couple of extremely positive things to report! For once that means a post sans (OK, let’s call it minimal) cynicism and sarcasm. Yay!

If you’re new to Cannabis Commerce, we fill in the gaps conventional media’s reportage of all things marijuana glosses over. Sure, conventional media provides figures for the limited cannatax revenue that is being produced — the implication being we’re supposed to be impressed.

Conversely, Cannabis Commerce delights in reporting the amounts of money not being made by governments and civilians due to overly strict regulations which run rampant in every “legal” state including supposedly the most permissive state of all, our very own colorful Colorado — the implication being you should know what you’re missing out on.

There is also the not-insignificant-at-all matter of the amount of cannajobs that aren’t being created.

More on the untapped cannabucks and cannajobs below.

Man of Manitou Springs

Well, it looks like the cannabis gods are smiling on me once again: by dumb luck, I moved from the suburbs of Denver to the primordial splendor of Manitou Springs — just in time for the tiny “tourist town” next to Colorado Springs with the healing waters running underneath it to become a mecca for RMJ (recreational marijuana).

In Manitou, you don’t need a Geiger counter to measure the tremendous amounts of potactivity.

This is the second time I’ve accidentally moved to an epicenter of poteconomics. When I moved to Denver’s South Broadway in 2010, I had no way of knowing that within six months I’d be able to walk to 30 dispensaries. That exhilarating beginning inspired the launch of Cannabis Commerce.

Then, in 2013, there ensued a dead period when, due to various circumstances, I found myself living in the satanic suburbs outside Denver … let’s skip over that mind-numbing experience. Suffice it to say that for two years I connived to escape 80123 and relocate to a more soulful, pot-friendly zip code.

80829 is working for me all right. I haven’t felt this alive in a long time.

That’s because I now live in the midst of natural wonders including the Garden Of The Gods rock formation (pictured on the Home page with the rainbow) — which when I turn my head to the left I see outside my window along with some perfectly preserved Anasazi ruins.

anasazi cliff dwelling in manitou springs, co

Look closely at the middle of the photo … see the “houses of many windows” built into the cliffs?

The 360º panorama includes also includes the Cave Of The Winds …

The Cave of the Winds. Are the winds blowing towards the repeal of federal marijuana prohibition? Read on.

The road winding up Williams Canyon toward the Cave of the Winds. Are the winds blowing towards the repeal of federal marijuana prohibition? Read on.

… and the Manitou Incline.

The Manitou Incline: hundreds of fitness freaks hike up this super-steep trail around 6 AM every morning.

The Manitou Incline: hundreds of fitness freaks hike up this super-steep trail around 6 AM every morning.

Views of natural wonders have replaced the bird’s eye view of Building 2 twenty feet away in Littleton.

In the summer of 2014, Manitou Springs now boasts another natural wonder: a brand spanking new RMJ dispensary just opened next to ye olde Loaf ‘N Jug. With all the sarcastic adjective deleted city, county, and state regulations to overcome, it’s a wonder an RMJ dispensary was able to open at all!

I should mention that in the summer of 2013 Manitou Springs was struck by two epic floods. As flood danger is going to be an ever-present threat for the next ten years, dozens of sandbags stand at the ready in front of nearly every shop. Neither flood mitigation nor flood cleanup is exactly cheap. Yet even with the clear and present danger of being washed away and the enormous expense of rebuilding their entire city, it still took all kinds of finagling for Manitou Springs to get over itself, issue a permit to Maggie’s Farm, and start collecting some meaningful cannatax already.

When I first heard that an RMJ dispensary was opening next to Loaf “N Jug, I figured that was no big deal. I assumed there already were plenty of prosperous RMJ dispensaries scattered around Colorado Springs. Surprisingly, a city known for its huge military and fundamentalist presence had embraced MMJ sales when they began four years ago. I figured the same city would be simpatico with rec weed, too — but, no, when it comes to non-medicinal purposes, apparently the townfolk still consider cannabis the devil’s weed.

Accordingly, the city of Colorado Springs, like so many other cities, exercised its right to opt out of recreational weed. Any city or county in Colorado can opt out of RMJ, MMJ or both.

While plenty of MMJ dispensaries compete with churches and liquor stores for the hearts, minds, and dollars of the city where the inventor Nicola Tesla famously experimented with wireless transmission in the 19th century, there was not a single RMJ brick and mortar shop in a ninety-mile stretch between Denver and Pueblo.

One Manitou gift shop owner told me that she was worried about all the traffic the new dispensary would bring to town. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about.

Well there was all sorts of (good) traffic at the Grand Opening of Maggie’s Farm at 4:20 sharp on the rainy afternoon of July 31st. Cops directed it and TV stations covered it. When I drove past it, the line of jonesing “stoners” had wound its way through the parking lot.

Hiatus or no hiatus, I couldn’t resist staking out my place in the queue. Here was a perfect opportunity to interact with the esteemed stoners of Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, and various pilgrims who had driven here from the extended list of Colordado cities and counties which had opted out.

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Loaf ‘N Jug’s new neighbor

Imagine for a moment you’re a Loaf & Jug convenience store on the outskirts of Manitou Springs, CO, vying for tourists’ and locals’ junk food dollars with the likes of Safeway, King Soopers and every other fast food provider around. Life is tolerable, but of course it could always be better.

Now imagine that the only RMJ dispensary in a 90-mile I-25 corridor between Denver and Pueblo just moved in right next to you. Bingo!

What are the odds that an extremely high percentage of RMJ shoppers will manage to negotiate the twenty yards between stores to acquire gaily-colored thirst quencers, alpaca jerky, and a frosted cupcake or two? Pretty high, wouldn’t you say?.

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That was one of the many topics under discussion as at least a hundred of us stood on queue at the Grand Opening of Maggies Farm. Other discussion points included “how much would Maggie’s Farm be charging for weed when they’re the only game in town and have a virtual monopoly?” and my favorite conversation starter, “why don’t activists target federal marijuana prohibition instead of passing referendums that limit purchases to one measly ounce in cities and counties which can opt-out at any time?”

Line or no line, the populace was in a festive mood. The Farm’s proprietors set up a tent to keep people out of the sun and rain. Various managers mingled with the crowd, intent on creating a favorable impression — a mission that succeeded.

There was just one issue which added an element of suspense to this otherwise pretty picture: there appeared to be way more than an hour’s wait for those of us at the back of the line. It was now 5:45 PM, and the joy was going to get cut off at the witching hour of 7 PM sharp.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of time to yak with the folks on line.

With the lure of “legal” weed, entire families had come out. There was also the odd school girl who said she was only there to help out a friend (uh-huh), guys trying to make us believe they were there for medical purposes only (zzzzzzzzz), and customers inexplicably decked out in crimson Star Trek garb.

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“Hey Scotty, beam me up some weed already!”

Manager Andi came round handing out numbers to people so they could be first-served the following day since it was so iffy whether or not we’d make it in. As the clock struck 6:15, then 6:30, then 6:45, the last of us were drawing ever closer to the front door. I really thought we were going to make it. At 6:55 Andi squashed that thought.

However, she said we could step inside the lobby to at least get a taste of what we were missing.

So now we were inside the building … where people were still being processed at the counter by workers apparently uninformed that the last of us weren’t supposed to be served. One of those last stragglers was Teddy, a fellow who showed his artistic creations at a gallery in town. For the better part of a half hour, we recounted our weed tales from back in the day to the present.

It was now minutes before 7.

Then I was handing my driver’s license to an employee who scanned it and handed it back with the words, “You’re customer number 17. Go on in that door.” I was in! Then I found myself standing at a gleaming bud bar.

The Maggie’s Farm employees really tried to squeeze me in. I placed my order for a whopping gram; for a moment, it appeared I had made it into the system before the stroke of 7!

Moving to the next counter to pick my order up … well there was Andi again and despite the store’s and my own efforts to complete the transaction, I was shut out by about 16 seconds. “I really wanted you to get in,” said Andi, confirming that my various wisecracks and witty verbal bon mots offered while waiting on line had been a real laugh riot.

“Make sure you ask for me tomorrow and I’ll take care of you,” quoth she. I commend Maggie’s Farm for being that rare monopoly with a strong sense of customer service.

Only Teddy and I had been shut out. That brings us to the reason I’m telling this story. Here’s the next thing Teddy had to say:

“I only came here cause I was curious. I can get you something just as good for half the price.”

I considered his offer for a $10 dollar gram (Maggie’s Farm charged $23 for a gram out the door) for about a hundredth of a second before agreeing to follow him to his cottage in town. Next thing I knew I was waiting in a tranquil garden full of star lillies, lilac bushes, hummingbirds a-feeding and the stars of the garden: several stellar five foot tall outdoor cannabis plants.

So, friends, once again the over-regulated madness of requiring dispensaries to close at 7 PM even though an amendment was passed which promised to regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco (which of course you can buy to midnight or beyond) cost a local business, the City of Manitou Springs, and the State of Colorado money … money it will continue to lose because we were also not informed RMJ would cost twice as much as MMJ and be taxed over 30% to boot.

  • Since the State of Colorado’s Department of Revenue, which (over) regulates marijuana sales and set taxation percentages north of 30%, has provided outlaws with every incentive to keep producing untaxed weed, that means that maybe one in twenty of the people who want to work legally in the industry will be able to do so. So much for a flood of new cannajobs.
  • It means that maybe one twentieth of the tax revenue that could be collected will be collected.
  • It means cannabis will continue to be a novelty commodity as opposed to the major economic force it wants to be, was meant to be, and has given every possible indication that it can be.

Meanwhile, “activists” and conventional media keep telling us we’ve won a huge victory of historical proportion.

What an RMJ dispensary in a Colorado “tourist town” has to do with The New York Times

ny times

If you’ve visited Cannabis Commerce before, you know how frustrated I’ve been with the lack of national efforts to defeat federal marijuana prohibition … not to mention conventional media’s avoidance of doing anything more than the minimal work required to report the unending legislative skirmishes that are the inevitable aftereffects of state-by-state marijuana referendums.

Imagine my surprise and pleasure when that journalistic colossus The New York Times recently editorialized that prohibition should be repealed — like yesterday.

Repeal Prohibition, Again by The Editorial Board thankfully ignores whatever referendums and amendments are currently active in the densely populated tri-state area [New York, New Jersey, Connecticut] The Times traditionally serves. Without any unnecessary ado it starts off with this broadside aimed straight at the hull of The Nation’s All-Time Worst Law:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

What’s so significant about that?

While every other major newspaper in the United States takes the same old tired approach, dutifully reporting on ridiculously constricted medical marijuana or recreational marijuana amendments that are active in their own back yards, The New York Times has aimed its missiles at the root cause pot activists should have been targeting all along: the entrenched monolith of federal marijuana prohibition itself which affects every man, woman, and child in the United States and The Rest of the World.

But The Times didn’t stop there: it’s released a dazzling blitzkreig on a previously spared target. These spirited fussillades include, “The Federal Marijuana Ban is Rooted in Myth and Zenophobia,” “What Science Says About Marijuana,” and “Rules For The Marijuana Market.”

However, before we annoint The New York Times the long-awaited marijuana messiah, the greatest savior since Moses, let’s pause and take a quick look at some of the paper’s pertinent pros and cons:

Pros

  • Once a stodgy, conservative rag, the Times has reinvented itself as a feature-rich presence in print and online, replete with luminous photography and catchy headlines. Its intended audience is now “any educated everyman” … provided that educated everyman has a tolerance for slow journalism, which, like slow food, is not intended to be gulped down.
  • Its online site looks and reads great … provided you’re liberal.
  • The Times is really the highest evolution of a dinosaur media, print. Print is not going get any better than this before it’s extinct.

Cons

  • A nameless and faceless entity called “The Editorial Board” is credited for writing “Repeal Prohibition, Again.” The fact these people can’t even give their names or show their faces makes you wonder what that’s all about.
  • There is no date for the editorial, which is really strange for an organization that’s all about fact-checking.
  • At the same time The Times has come down off its once-lofty perch to interact with everyman, it’s maintained its role as one of the leading if not the leading mouthpiece for the military industrial complex, a shaper of mass psychology with few peers.

Let’s examine that last bullet point.

How does The Times mold mass psychology? Well, for one, it’s supremely conscious how every one of its headlines provides subliminal programming for well-educated liberals. Any time a hot word like “militant,” “insurgent,” “rebels,” “rogue state” or “terrorist” appear in a headline, a lead paragraph, or anywhere in a story for that matter, it immediately colors how millions and millions of Americans instantly feel about certain “news” events … and every news event is carefully chosen to control what Americans think about.

Labeling, say, Iraqis, as “insurgents” implies there’s something wrong with them for being upset that hundreds of thousands of American troops have laid waste to their country. No, we’re doing it for their own good, The Times reassures us, and if those uneducated Iraqis would just fall into lockstep with the policies of the US Military marauding around their countryside, they would be no longer be branded “insurgents.”

A “rogue state” is an area or a people who don’t accept the US as self-appointed Policeman of the World.

The irony of labeling certain peoples “terrorists” when none of them are in American and hundreds of thousands of Americans are operating throughout the Middle East is lost on most people who “patriotically” believe protecting the US Petrochemical industry is a normal business practice we’re entitled to carry out any place on Earth we feel like doing so.

Let’s take a quick look at an example of The Times’ coverage. This one’s from “Preventing A Slaughter in Iraq,” also by the The Times’ nameless, faceless The Editorial Board. It’s dated August 7, 2014.

The catastrophe of Iraq has been growing steadily worse for weeks, but by Thursday, it became impossible for the United States and other civilized nations to ignore it. Iraq’s bloodthirsty Sunni extremists were threatening the extermination of tens of thousands of members of religious minorities who have refused to join the fundamentalist Islamic state the terrorist forces want to create.

Reading between the lines: even as The Times has come down firmly against the myths propping up federal marijuana prohibition, it still promotes the myth that we are not the terrorists, it’s them, despite the fact our drone planes bomb the hell out of them, we continue to kill hundreds of thousands of them, we justified waterboarding civilans, and we held elections for puppet regimes on their land.

Without further elaboration, suffice it to say that it is not so much a question of whether The New York Times is a sterling champion of liberal causes like marijuana legalization or a staunch maintainer of stances the military industrial complex brainwashes us with. It is both! Clearly, several factions coexist within the Times.

Let me bottom line this for you: at The New York Times, terrorism (ours) is good, marijuana prohibition is bad.

So we’re gonna take The Times‘ somewhat startling anti-prohibition position with a grain of salt.

That said, mouthpiece for the military industrial complex or not, whether “The Editorial Board” is faceless or not, the fact Cannabis Commerce finally has some rather heady journalistic company in the long-dormant campaign to repeal prohibition is both refreshing and encouraging.

We’ll even overlook the fact that another recent Times opinion piece by an actual named human, David Firestone, hedged The Times’ bets by printing his “Let States Decide on Marijuana.” Here’s a sample:

Consuming marijuana is not a fundamental right that should be imposed on the states by the federal government, in the manner of abortion rights, health insurance, or the freedom to marry a partner of either sex. It’s a choice that states should be allowed to make based on their culture and their values, and it’s not surprising that the early adopters would be socially liberal states like Colorado and Washington, while others hang back to gauge the results.

Quick reaction:

  1. Yes it is a fundamental right. And the natural birthrights we’re struggling to regain are our “herbal rights.”
  2. Outside of a few major cities, Colorado and Washington have their fair share of conservatives. It is a fact — not my personal opinion — that two-thirds of Colorado’s cities and counties have opted out of recreational marijuana. Plenty of the same cities and counties have opted out of medical marijuana, too.
  3. Conservatives smoke their fair share of weed, too. There is nothing in the conservative manifesto that discriminates against weed consumption; it’s much easier to visualize the erection of giant fences along the southern borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California after a few good tokes.  Furthermore, there is also nothing in “the good book” that condemns cannabis consumption. The opposite is true: many religious groups believe that holy oil was cannabis oil.

There is nothing in the conservative manifesto that discriminates against weed consumption; it’s much easier to visualize the erection of giant fences along the southern borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California after a few good tokes.

Coming back full circle, the continued implementation of Mr. Firestone’s “leave it to the states” concept results in the exact situation I encountered at Maggie’s Farm in Manitou Springs: our, ahem, “socially liberal state” forced people to drive 60 miles to score some legal weed at over twice the price of outlaw weed. And its sarcastic adjective deleted decidedly un-liberal 7 PM cutoff for pot sales steered me away from becoming a loyal Maggie’s customer and back to the black market —which I haven’t patronized since 2009.

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p.s.

Today’s [8/8/2914] NY Times Online headline: “US Begins Strikes in Iraq, Pentagon Says.”

See what I mean?

Yesterday [8/7/2014], the Times tells the world, “Iraq’s bloodthirsty Sunni extremists were threatening the extermination of tens of thousands of members of religious minorities who have refused to join the fundamentalist Islamic state the terrorist forces want to create.”

So, since the Sunnis are “bloodthirsty” and “terrorists,” therefore bombing the hell out of them is perfectly OK … it’s performing a vital service for mankind. Of course the US pilots dropping the bombs are “just doing their jobs” and “protecting our freedom.” Since we’re meting out the death, it’s not “extermination,” it’s a tough job that has to done for the good of the Iraqis who are incapable of making their own decisions and need us to guide them away from their primitive, previously sovereign customs.

Update 8/9/2014

And today we’re blessed with the screaming headline, “Obama Says Iraq Airstrike Effort Could Be ‘Long Term.”

This leads to an inescapable conclusion: NY Times “news stories” have essentially become nothing more or less than press releases for the Pentagon. They soften us up for the carnage to come (which we’ll rarely see, so we go about our business of obsessing about the NFL and celebrities, the stuff the military industrial complex wants us to think about).

There is really no fundamental difference between this sort of mind control and the same mind control pot “activists” employ to convince us that “winning” one-ounce limits in states perfectly OK with allowing unlimited purchases of alcohol and tobacco represent “historical victories.”

I’ve been pointing this stuff out for four years now … largely in a vacuum. Forces bigger than Cannabis Commerce and bigger than me shape your opinions and control what you think. I could bitch louder and more frequently about that or I can continue doing something more positive with my life. One thing that I can control is my creative output.

Here’s the command post I do it from:

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Believe it or not, with a few unpictured guitars I can get any sound I want out of this sparse but giant-killing setup. Previous pictures show the inspiring natural wonders that I see out my windows now that I’ve become a man of Manitou.

Update 10/08/2014

I’ve been paying less attention to what remains of my stash than I have been to my creative crusade. In other words I ran out of weed again and could not get in immediate contact with local outlaws. So it was time for Maggie’s Farm, Round Two!

Since in our “historic” and “legal” state it’s still impossible for pot businesses like Maggie’s Farm to process credit cards, I parked and headed to the previously mentioned ye olde Loaf And Jug to use their ATM (and waited on line behind five people doing the same thing). Then I was cutting through the gas pumps in the parking lot pictured above and passing a Chrysler/Mercedes where two chicks, one of whom was now beckoning me over to their car, were sitting.

I had time in my busy day to see what she wanted.

“Are you thinking about going to Maggie’s Farm?”

“Thing about it and actually doing it.”

“Why? They charge ridiculous prices. If you want to follow us into Manitou, you can choose between five strains of MMJ at 10 bucks a gram.”

Well then. Choices, choices.

The first choice was whether to play the rather silly game at Maggie’s Farm which apparently consists of these steps:

  • Wait on a line outside for who knows how long.
  • Finally check in at one counter in the lobby.
  • Eventually proceed to a waiting room where you get to play musical chairs; that is, there are a couple dozen chairs arranged in a hallway … and you keep getting up and moving one chair at a time until …
  • You are called to enter a door and proceed to a counter displaying all the wares; here you will consult with a budtender and make your selection(s), then …
  • Report to yet another counter where, after waiting on yet another line, you will pay for and receive your product … which will be carefully stapled shut, like at a pharmacy.

Then there was choice two, consisting of one simple step:

  • Follow two hot enough chicks back to the direction I was heading anyway and buy from them at less than half the price … even though, heartache of heartaches, I may not receive a stapled bag.

Take a wild guess which scenario I chose.

Then I was following the Mercedes to a park in Manitou Springs, where, exactly as promised, the dreadlocked chick produced five baggies of various indicas, sativas, and blends and a little portable digital scale. All she lacked was a few bags and a little stapler to compete with “the big boys.”

Moral of the story: it’s probably not a good idea to provide endless hoops to jump through — like forcing people to buy with cash from brick and mortar shops — in order to buy a little weed if the name of the game is generating revenue for the State of Colorado. Reminder, the state marijuana regulatory agency is called The Department of Revenue, ostensibly for a reason. Unless I’m tripping, doesn’t that imply a desire to produce as much of it as possible?

Apparently that would be altogether too sensible.