The leading opponent of Oregon marijuana legalization in the media is Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis. In his recent debate on the Oregon Measure 91 legalization initiative against Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Marquis expressed his opinion on the ease of growing marijuana and why that would depress any hope for earning tax revenue from legalization, as reported by the Salem Statesman-Journal:
Marquis tried to poke holes in those estimates by explaining how Colorado has lowered its revenue expectations in part because fewer people than anticipated are buying marijuana from a store.
“It’s called weed for a reason,” Marquis said. “It’s not like brewing your own whiskey. It’s not that hard to make.”
He suspects that even his wife, who supports marijuana legalization, could grow “some awesome weed” in their greenhouse.
I suppose if I took some Welches Grape Juice and sat it in a warm, dark cabinet for a week or two, I’d have a fermented alcoholic beverage, but I doubt anyone is going to mistake it for a Chardonnay or a Merlot. Sure, pop some seeds into the ground, let the sun and rain tend to it, and come back in a few weeks and I suppose you’ll have a few ditchweed plants, but nobody is going to mistake it for the quality marijuana one can get in a dispensary.
Marquis was called out immediately by Rep. Blumenauer for this idiocy. “You can grow your own tomatoes,” Blumenauer said. “Why would anyone buy an heirloom tomato in a store?” Indeed, we have the right to grow carrots, lettuce, celery, potatoes, apples, and many other fruits and vegetables on our land, and it is far easier to grow those crops than cannabis, but most of us do not, because there are similar or better offerings of many more varieties available at the grocery store.
The fact is that growing quality marijuana is very difficult. I am a marijuana policy professional with direct access to the latest information, best equipment, and most knowledgeable horticulturalists on the West Coast, and not one of my growing attempts has yielded anything I’d ever pay money for. I’ve had crops lost to powdery mildew, spider mites, low watering, electrical failures, and thieves — things that have never affected any of my home grown tomatoes.
Colorado’s brought in $37.5 million in taxes and fees on marijuana so far, and while that is lower than original estimates, it is infinitely greater than the zero dollars brought in prior to 2014. The real reason those estimates are lower isn’t because residents can home-grow six plants. It is because recreational marijuana is over-priced due to over-taxation, a fate that will not befall Oregon’s market, thanks to Measure 91’s flat $35/ounce taxation. Coloradoans with a medical marijuana card or a buddy who has one prefer to shop at the dispensaries, where taxes are 2.9%, over the pot shops, where the taxes are 15% plus 10% plus 2.9%.
I do look forward to finding out just how awesome a crop of marijuana Josh Marquis’ wife can grow in a greenhouse, however.