Former NM Gov: Washington State ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ for Rec Regs

A former governor has advice for states looking at regulatory models for recreational marijuana: steer clear of Washington State’s example.

Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and current CEO of Cannabis Sativa, said recently during an interview with The Oregonian that Washington’s rec rules are the “worst-case scenario.”

Johnson ran for president in 2012, a bid he is expected to reprise in 2016.

Washington State has “screwed it up as bad as they possibly can,” Johnson said.

“They have taxed it to the level where if you are a prior user of marijuana, prior to it being legal in Washington, you are still consuming it on the black market because of how expensive it is. It’s the worst-case scenario and they have it playing out in Washington State,” Johnson said.

Johnson advised future states, including Oregon and Alaska, to “forget about tax revenue” and focus on other benefits of legalization.

“The tax revenue from marijuana gets dwarfed by the savings in law enforcement, the courts and prisons. You are moving the entire industry from a black market,” Johnson said. “If there were no tax revenue at all we would be way, way ahead because of all of those other things.”

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8 comments on “Former NM Gov: Washington State ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ for Rec Regs
  1. Mark Burcaw, D.C. on

    This fellow gets it. The benefits to American society are so enormous that tax is irrelevant. But the prison industry, big pharma, alcohol, tobacco, cotton…well I am preaching to the choir.

  2. steve on

    YES! Gary for president in 2016!!! For sure! If he runs, & they actually go by a true vote from the American people, likely even the electoral vote, he will be elected hands down!!! There will not be any doubt who will win that race!!

  3. Clark_G on

    Gary Johnson gets my vote. The moment I read the text of WA St. Initiative 502 in 2012 I knew I’d be voting no. The crazy excise tax rates and the inability to deduct these taxes from federal income tax owed were/are a major red flag for any canna-business owner with two sober brain cells to rub together. My advice to voters in other states is do your homework and remember the first pioneer through the valley usually gets the most arrows shot in his chest. No harm done in waiting a bit to get the lay of the land in order to proceed intelligently. If an eighth ounce of lower mid-grade buds goes for $65 in an I-502 rec store when the same calibre product goes for $35 in a med dispensary like it does in my home town of Seattle, that’s a clear cut sign things are seriously messed up. If you live in Washington, call your state legislator and urge them to vote yes on Senate Bill 5519.

  4. jason on

    I agree the tax rate should be lower in WA, but that said the rec. market is now competing with the blackmarket. The statistics show a steady growth in sales across the state. I was in a store yesterday that was selling mid-grade for $35 an eight and can’t keep it on the shelves. These are not new buyers. Retailers and producers are making money. The system is working. Seeing as how Mr. Johnson is not keeping his facts straight I’ll venture a guess as to the real reasons he has an issue with WA. With a residency requirement and an application period that was open to anybody WA is building a diverse, homegrown cannabis industry not controlled primarily by big money and outsiders. Most likely this is in conflict with his big business dreams.

  5. Indica Bob on

    First off cultivating and selling marijuana should follow the same process as oil. Its obvious that supply is overwhelming demand because the price is too high to meet demand. Something tells me they need to reach an equilibrium in order to maximize profit. They did when they put out the mids. I doubt I ever hit a retail store for anything buy wax, vape pen or edibles because I can get descent weed like G-3 for 25-30 an eigth. I figured most ppl without connections would wander into those shops and tourist.

  6. Indica Bob on

    Its obvious due to the price gap between medical and recreational that medical card holders still have control over the market. There is 30 dollar an eigth price gap.

  7. Edward Mordrake on

    They are leaving loopholes in their tightly controlled system. The growers can grow and have growers and get their weed fairly inexpensive then you have legal marijuana with a price tag designed for tourist. If I could control my own state I would do away with growers and leverage out the price gap between medical and recreational. Then grow it on an industrial level to meet demand. Higher prices in areas with higher tourism and demand. Oregon street prices have dropped to around 5 dollars more than recreational but sometimes even less so well have the same problem. Not much tourism around these parts though.

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