You Can Now Buy Bud for Bitcoin in Washington State

Bitcoin and bud are a match made in liberty heaven. They are perfect examples of things people want, but that the state thinks is their job to “protect” you from. Two inevitable forces, two civil rights issues. Bitcoin can help the nascent legal marijuana business, and the marijuana business can help Bitcoin. I wrote a piece all about this last month, which I suggest reading titled: How Bitcoin Could Serve the Marijuana Industry as Banks Remain Too Scared to Enter.

Now from Coindesk:

Medical marijuana dispensary Kouchlock Productions, which opened on Monday February 3, began accepting bitcoin for its wares this week. The dispensary, based in Spokane, is said to already have sold the drug in several bitcoin transactions.

While medical mariijuana dispensaries are legal in the state, they are still federally illegal, which makes it difficult for them to process credit cards. This makes bitcoin a useful alternative for them.

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Is Obama Close to Waging War on Legalized Pot?

I believe that election day 2012 will go down in U.S. history as an extremely important event.  No, not because in its national apathy the citizens re-elected a crony capitalist puppet as President.  Rather, because it was the day when two states overwhelmingly rejected the Federal Prohibition on marijuana.  Of course, I am referring to Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington State, which legalize pot for recreational use.

Upon its passage, I wrote a piece titled: Colorado Legalizes Marijuana: Your Move Eric Holder.  I knew right away that the Federales would not be pleased by this law.  I also knew that, contrary to popular myth, Obama isn’t “liberal” in any sense of the word and in fact he has demonstrated highly authoritarian characteristics throughout his Presidency and an uncanny willingness to lie repeatedly.  So I assumed his reaction would be aggressive, because for him this issue isn’t about marijuana, but rather Federal (his own) power versus the power of his “subjects.”

We learn from the New York Times that the administration is indeed looking to get tough:

WASHINGTON — Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.  

Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response.

The Obama administration declined to comment on the deliberations, but pointed to a statement the Justice Department issued on Wednesday — the day before the initiative took effect in Washington — in the name of the United States attorney in Seattle, Jenny A. Durkan. She warned Washington residents that the drug remained illegal.

So what are the Federales considering?

One option is for federal prosecutors to bring some cases against low-level marijuana users of the sort they until now have rarely bothered with, waiting for a defendant to make a motion to dismiss the case because the drug is now legal in that state.

A more aggressive option is for the Justice Department to file lawsuits against the states to prevent them from setting up systems to regulate and tax marijuana, as the initiatives contemplated.

Another potential avenue would be to cut off federal grants to the states unless their legislatures restored anti-marijuana laws, said Gregory Katsas, who led the civil division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.

This is going to be an incredible drama to watch unfold, and in many ways I wouldn’t mind seeing Obama get aggressive on this issue because it will be such a huge political blunder.  Not only was the vote overwhelming in favor of legalization in my state of Colorado (55% voted yes and it received more votes that Obama did in the state), but a very high percentage of Democrats support legalization and does he really want to start off his second term by marginalizing the remaining supporters he hasn’t already as a result of his horrible track record on civil liberties, banker bailouts and aggressive foreign policy?  It’s not just Democrats though.  A Rasmussen poll in May showed that 56% of those surveyed nationwide were in favor of legalization.  Obama would just be fighting the inevitably culturally, protecting Mexican drug cartel profits and in the end just look like a fool.

Even more than a States rights versus Federal power issue, this is about democracy versus authoritarianism.  Obama pushing back hard on the will of the people will only further expose the sham that is his Presidency for more to see.

I also discussed this issue on my recent appearance of Capital Account, which you can watch here.

Full New York Times article is here.

In Liberty,
Mike

Colorado Legalizes Marijuana: Your Move Eric Holder

The one election outcome I actually cared about yesterday went the way I wanted it.  I am referring to Colorado’s Amendment 64, which regulates marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol.  It is basically full legalization of pot for adults over 21.  It essentially:

  • Makes the personal use, possession, and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older;
  • Establishes a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol; and
  • Allows for the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.

I’m proud to say that my state of Colorado led the way nationally by becoming the first state to legalize marijuana (although Washington passed a similar measure shortly after).  I supported this Amendment and voted yes on it for several reasons.

1) Based on personal experience as well as observations of others I believe that marijuana is a much more benign drug than alcohol, and in fact I think its benefits to society outweigh the negatives.  Like with anything in life, moderation is key.

2) I philosophically do not believe the Federal government should have any say in what people put into their bodies.  This is not to say that I believe the full legalization of all drugs is ideal.  For example, I would vote against the legalization of harder drugs like cocaine or heroin in Colorado if that was on the ballot.  That’s not to say I don’t think it has a right to be on the ballot, it’s just that I would vote against it.  We have 50 states for a reason.  These individual communities should be able to decide for themselves what they want to allow within their respective borders.  The Federal government should have absolutely zero say on this matter.

3) It’s about time we had a little confrontation with the Federal government on the issue of States rights.  As has been documented endlessly, civil liberties have been decimated since 9/11 and the overreaction to the endless “war on terror.”  The Federal government has become bolder, more aggressive and increasingly tyrannical.  While the degree is debatable the trend is not.  Marijuana legalization provides the ideal battleground on the issue of States rights at the moment.  The measure passed in a landslide in Colorado.  55% voted yes and 45% voted no (Obama only won the state 51% vs. 46%).  The people have clearly spoken.

So now this sets up a potentially epic battle. The Huffington Post put out a great article highlighting the potential confrontation in its article “Amendment 64: Will Colorado Voters Legalize Marijuana On Election Day 2012?”  Here are some of my favorite passages:

However, the big unknown still is if the federal government would allow a regulated marijuana market to take shape. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was a vocal opponent of California’s legalization initiative in 2010 saying he would “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana prohibition, has continued to remain silent on the issue this year.

In September, Holder was urged by nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to take a stand against marijuana legalization again. “To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives,” the nine said in the letter to holder obtained by Reuters.

The drug warriors say that states that legalize marijuana for recreational use will trigger a “Constitutional showdown” with the federal government.

Bring. It. On.

4) The “war on drugs” is violent, expensive and idiotic. As the years have passed, people have come to realize how ridiculous the “war on drugs” really is.  The Economist recently published an excellent article titled: “Legalizing marijuana: The View from Mexico.” In the article we discover the biggest losers would probably be the Mexican Drug Cartels:

The impact on Mexico could be profound. Between 40% and 70% of American pot is reckoned to be grown in Mexico.

In Mexico relatively few people take drugs. But many are murdered as a result of the export business. About 60,000 have been killed by organized crime during the past six years. Thousands more have disappeared. Many Mexicans therefore wonder if America might consider a new approach. Felipe Calderon, the president, has said that if Americans cannot bring themselves to stop buying drugs, they ought to consider “market alternatives”, by which he means legalization. Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo, the two previous presidents of Mexico, have reached the same conclusion.

As a result, it estimates that Mexico’s traffickers would lose about $1.4 billion of their $2 billion revenues from marijuana. The effect on some groups would be severe: the Sinaloa “cartel” would lose up to half its total income, IMCO reckons. Exports of other drugs, from cocaine to methamphetamine, would become less competitive, as the traffickers’ fixed costs (from torturing rivals to bribing American and Mexican border officials) would remain unchanged, even as marijuana revenues fell.

It’s interesting that the two states to legalize marijuana both voted for Obama in this election.  Will he now betray all these faithful voters?  Based on his first term performance, you can count on it.  Your move Mr. Holder.

In Liberty,
Mike