Weed-killer, or killer weed?

Scott’s Miracle-Gro is marketing to cannabis growers.

No, seriously.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Scott’s Miracle-Gro is targeting the cannabis-growing market. Surely, the next step must be certified organic 420.

A reporter for Marketplace called this morning to ask what it all meant; the resulting interview should air this afternoon.

Soundbite version of my answer: Search me, boss.

I don’t see much evidence of increased consumption; there might be increased production if dometic pot is replacing Mexican, but I don’t see much evidence of that, either. Most likely the emergence of the quasi-medical market in California has simply encouraged the existing growing industry to stick its collective head above ground, so we suddenly have cannabis expos and what-not.

Of course, the more open the industry, the more openly it can lobby. Some of the people getting rich from the current halfway-legal business in California opposed Proposition 19, which would have legalized it all the way at the state level, because they feared the resulting competition.

Anyone trying to design a legal regime for cannabis had better reckon on the political economy. Assuming your pet scheme were adopted, would it be robust to the efforts of the resulting legal industry to beat down whatever tax and regulatory barriers you had erected to prevent an upsurge of cannabis abuse?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

8 thoughts on “Weed-killer, or killer weed?”

  1. Sure would be, since my pet scheme wouldn’t involve any such tax or regulatory barriers. Don’t have to worry about people circumventing what you don’t do in the first place.

  2. Mark, you can’t have “organic” cannabis as long as the feds own the word and prohibit the plant. But you’re behind the times: in Humboldt there’s “Clean Green” and “Salmon Safe” certification, and multiple labs (Steep Hill, CW Analytical) will now screen for contaminants and quantify cannabinoids. You can even have them pack your pounds in nitrogen-filled bags with an affixed seal.

  3. Yes, Brett, it’s amazing how easy it is to devise a completely reliable and safe car if you don’t require that it actually take you anywhere. Just leave out the engine.

  4. One of our local family-owned nurseries has done a lot of expansion recently, and part of that expansion is into supplying hydroponic and organic fert supplies for the dope growers. The warehouse industry is afloat around here because of them. Every time I’m at that nursery someone is getting help from staff, and I’m not talking dirty hippies in Vanagons stinking of sinse. If I were Scott’s I’d make a play too – Matt Kahn ripped out his lawn, so therefore everyone is rich enough to do so, and as such diversifying is only good business sinse…erm…sense.

  5. Sliding really close to a slippery slope argument there, Mark. In fact, if you make this argument now, then maybe soon you’ll rely solely on slippery slope arguments instead of solid reasoning.

    Anyway, a regime that keeps the growers small and limits ads might be reasonably stable. Maybe after a generation or two it slips down the slope a bit, but then you push back. I don’t think increasing corporate power is inevitable for all time.

  6. Anyway, a regime that keeps the growers small and limits ads might be reasonably stable. Maybe after a generation or two it slips down the slope a bit, but then you push back. I don’t think increasing corporate power is inevitable for all time.

    Like the subsidies for family farms, right?

  7. Big tobacco has been strikingly unsuccessful over the past 20 years or so in its efforts to push back against increased regulation, taxation, and education, intended to reduce tobacco use.

  8. “Yes, Brett, it’s amazing how easy it is to devise a completely reliable and safe car if you don’t require that it actually take you anywhere. Just leave out the engine.”

    If you don’t really care to get anywhere, so much as you’re trying to prevent the nutcases behind the wheel from running any more people down, that sounds like a pretty good design change. My primary concern here is minimizing damage to people who aren’t stupid and self destructive. What happens to people who do use drugs is by far a secondary matter.

    I trust my son not to use drugs. But his being a sensible lad won’t protect him from growing up in a police state…

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