Cape Cod's Reefer Madness, 2013

Town should boards stop interfering and let the market decide
Old movie comes back to haunt Cape Cod.

The Cape’s municipal boards have had something new to obsess about ever since the medical marijuana referendum passed in the November election. Most visibly, we’ve observed Barnstable and Harwich angst over possible zoning overlay districts and lack of concrete regulations from the state two months after the law was approved by voters.

I think it’s time to put a bit of perspective on this issue.

Gentle readers, Hyannis is not going to turn into a Cheech and Chong parody the day the first pot dispensary opens – Chatham won’t become the location of a new Reefer Madness film. To this octogenarian the pot dispensary kerfuffle is much ado about nothing.

Presidential and Conservative views on Pot

Afterall, our revered President Thomas Jefferson said, “‎Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.”

And not to be outdone, the conservative icon William F. Buskley admonished us, “The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy.”

Massachusetts may have surprised itself when the medical marijuana law was approved by voters. However, fear not, we live in a state that absolutely loves to regulate and tax all kinds of businesses. Pot dispensaries present a favorable opportunity for our government bureaucrats to do their very worst.

A “Dime Bag” for $15?

Curious about what legally-dispensed medical pot might cost, we did some research on California’s marijuana dispensary industry. In the process we came across a splendid little website called This site offers a directory to most California pot dispensaries as well as pricing on various types of pot, ratings on purity, disclosure of whose pot is lab-verified and lists doctors who we assume pay to be listed.

The first thing that struck us is pricing. It looks like California pot prescription holders pay a minimum of about $15 for a gram of weed. Prices vary from there based on the type and strain chosen as well as its purity.

You can let your opinion be heard by voting in our Poll:Do you approve of some Cape towns attempting to delay or amend the new Mass. marijuana law?

Getting the Prescription

There are many aspects to the whole medical marijuana industry – all of which add to the cost of those coveted joints.

You need a prescription if you want to buy medical marijuana. Assuming your family doctor won’t prescribe it, you’ll have to find a more open-minded physician. That’s going to cost you money because the pot-doc’s going to want to see you periodically before he’ll order your script refilled.

In many medical-pot states, there are “medical marijuana clinics” that specialize in prescribing cannabis to those in need. For example, Washington has the Washington State Marijuana Clinic with a published price schedule for six month and one year authorizations and renewals. Their cost to get a one year authorization for medical marijuana is $200 – and that’s just for the prescription.

The Dispensary

Pot dispensaries will likely be stand-alone businesses here in Massachusetts. They will be paying rent, utilities, payroll tax, income tax, insurance and will have our notoriously regulation-happy state and municipal regulators looking over their shoulders at all times.

If Massachusetts dispensaries price on the California model, you’ll pay from around $15 for a 1 gram prescription up to about $160 for a half-ounce prescription. Massachusetts hasn’t released prescribing guidelines for doctors yet, nor do we know where our medical insurance providers will put marijuana on the drug formulary. Will your co-pay be lower if your doctor prescribes “Strawberry Cough” ($14.14/oz) as opposed to “Platinum Bubba Kush” ($17.73/oz)?

At these prices, I believe that the casual weekend toker will still buy from the street-corner pot dealer.

Let the Market Decide

Rather than town boards spending hours debating location and oversight for pot dispensaries, why not let the market decide? Do you really think Hyannis can support 20 pot shops?

With the expense and oversight consumers will face plus the high costs to anyone doing business in Massachusetts, I believe the market will limit us to just a few dispensaries here on Cape Cod. Those dispensaries will pay taxes, sponsor Little League teams, provide jobs and generally weave themselves into the fabric of Cape Cod’s small business community.

Vote in our Poll: Do you approve of some Cape towns attempting to delay or amend the new Mass. marijuana law?

Read previous references to the pot resistance on Cape Cod and the law here.

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