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The revised draft of regulations for I-502 has been released by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) and is available as a PDF from the state website.

Grabbing headlines under the new regulations is our “Produced in Washington” icon has been removed from the proposal. No immediate replacement was included with the new labeling revisions but the LCB has indicated it is already working on a new logo that does not tarnish our state image. Rumors we might use Idaho’s image instead in retaliation for years of lost tobacco tax revenue are unconfirmed.

Idaho Green

Another new change being reported is that outdoor growing will be allowed under the new revisions. Why exactly that is getting so much print when nothing outside grows here during the winter is a mystery. The new rules would also require an 8′ solid fence and 24 hour video surveillance so you can watch deer jump over and rabbits go under to eat your plants.

How a lower yielding, slower growing, at risk to the elements outdoor crop restricted to an annual grow window east of the Cascades would even pay for the fencing alone remains unexplained by media reports.

Hemp production that does have a profit potential outdoors in Eastern Washington is not covered under I-502. Stalks that could be used as a secondary industrial product must instead be destroyed by the producer/distributor further reducing profit potential for both indoor and outdoor grows.

Also not covered under I-502 is Medical cannabis, and for a very good reason. Under the Washington State Constitution an initiative can only address one subject at a time. If two subjects are addressed under one initiative it then becomes unconstitutional and is deemed void.

For this reason I am very distressed when the LCB starts talking about adding new regulations under these draft rules regulating medically prescribed cannabis. If the LCB is allowed to do so then that opens the door to a later lawsuit halting the initiative. I-502 would then be addressing both recreational cannabis and medical cannabis making the entire initiative unconstitutional and void.

We wouldn’t have to worry about the Feds stepping in later since the new laws would already have been rolled back to 2012 making recreational cannabis illegal again.

Besides, our Liquor Control Board has no place regulating the medical prescription industry to begin with. Simply because there is a recreational use for a certain product is a very weak excuse that does not stand up. Where does medical cannabis end and prescription painkillers start? I am surprised that Washington state doctors are not raising a fuss about that.

And as if thousands upon thousands of dollars in cameras and computer servers isn’t enough to tip your budget we have another change. All Financiers of these new businesses must meet a three month residency requirement. That means no funding from outside the state is allowed making it even harder to get one started.

All in all the revised draft rules for I-502 is in my estimation a line by line guarantee that the retail market will fail after the opening surge. Over priced retail cannabis and no home growing allowed is only going to encourage a larger black-market than we had before.

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The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.
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NSA & Snowden

June 26, 2013

Welcome to the West Report blog

The National Security Agency (NSA) is home to America’s code-makers and code-breakers. It is their job to gather signals intelligence (SIGINT) in order to gain a decision making advantage for the U.S. and our allies under all circumstances.

So what’s all the controversy about? From media reports, the National Security Agency has;

     “…collected millions of phone records from accounts in the United States along with signals intelligence from U.S. companies on the internet activity of overseas residents.”

And? The NSA gets to listen in, I don’t have a problem with that. Requesting and collecting intelligence is what the Agency is supposed to do. It isn’t hacking into these companies then data strip mining them.

Not that I know of anyway.

If they are just being nice by asking after the fact then hey, great job, keep up the good work. Either way the NSA is not gathering all this intelligence then posting up fun facts about random people on their twitter feed.

And a federal agency tracking my internet activity doesn’t really concern me either. I’ve been cleaning cookies out of my PC that do the exact same thing since windows 95. Nothing new there and it is kind of nice to know who’s collecting them for a change. I’ll type a thank you NSA email this evening and send it to myself.

I’m sure they’ll get it.

I’m much more concerned with banks and public corporations that keep getting hacked while losing personal information to criminals affecting millions of people at a time. The NSA has credibility in excess. Google can’t even operate my youtube channel correctly. Between the two I know who I’m more comfortable with compiling meta-data on my internet usage and personal information.

On the whole I don’t see anything wrong with the NSA or its actions. What I do see as being wrong is calling Snowden a whistle blower.

The guy didn’t send evidence to his Congressman then hide in the hills waiting on word from his lawyer. He infiltrated our government with the intention of stealing secrets and making them public.

That is espionage.

Last reports put the guy in Russia while he seeks somewhere that will grant him asylum. Presumably to then await book deals and highest bids on movie rights.

I wonder if we have anyone the Israelis might want in trade. You know, just in case he happens to show up in their custody sometime.

Doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

~

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The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.

Welcome to the West Report blog

In Washington State there is a 3 day waiting period when buying a marriage license, but you can purchase a shotgun that day, which is the way it should be. This gives your daughter time to be fitted for a new dress while you track the scoundrel down.

That of course is a stereotype but its not often that an argument can be made for both the sanctity of marriage and gun ownership rights at once. This blog is based in the Pacific Northwest after all to stretch the stereotype out a little more.

Mentioned in my previous article was that Washington State is the only one that keeps statistical records of divorce rulings. Hard to believe but it was from a solid source. In writing this I have searched, researched, searched again and damned if I can prove it wrong.

The Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR) has been collecting and compiling data since 2007 as a research arm of the Administrative Office of the Courts. I like how the home page states right away that they were established by Supreme Court order as if saying, “Hey, don’t blame us,” and even provides a link to the decree. The latest court report is from 2010 and the host page for the .pdf is here.

If Washington State is the only one doing this then that does raise the question of where do all these national figures come from? If only U.S. Census data is being used to compile these figures then the national numbers are at best somewhat speculative.

For example, if someone divorces twice then that is a 200% divorce rate using real life numbers. The census however would view that as two separate marriages that each ended resulting in a 100% divorce rate. When you look at the math used to reach these figures the results suggest, “50% of all marriages end in divorce,” is an optimistic best case scenario.

After adding up the yearbook totals from my 30-something high school peer group I peg the divorce rate in real life numbers at about 165%.

Another statistic current to 2012 shows Washington tied for 6th place among states with the highest divorce rates at 12.5%. It doesn’t say anywhere but I am going to assume that this is only counting existing marriages at the start of the year and new unions are calculated to figure the starting point for next year. Otherwise, with a 12.5% divorce rate, there would be no marriages left after about 8 years and obviously there still are. Are these first marriages? 2nd? How long have they lasted? The rate is basically meaningless by itself other than to show that sometime this year 1 out of 10 existing marriages will end.

Figuring out the sum total of fathers is almost impossible. What is defined as a father seems to change from statistic to statistic, but there are a few to ballpark with. First of course is our census which is a good place to start. Added to that is another from the Institute for Research on Poverty which hosts a .pdf file entitled “Stepparents and half-siblings: Family complexity from a child’s perspective” dated September 2011, found here, done in conjunction with researchers out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For example they found that 60% of firstborn children of unmarried mothers have at least one half-sibling by age 10.

So if 30% is the Washington unwed birth rate, that is 30 unwed mothers, 30 unwed fathers and 70 married couples. After a decade that would be 45 unwed fathers while 62% of those marriages would have ended by the same 10 year mark for a grand total of 73 unwed mothers, 88 unwed fathers and 27 married couples. Half of divorced mothers will marry a second time and 75% of those will end too. Adding unwed fathers of only 2nd marriages to the total gives a sum aggregate of 65 unwed mothers, 115 unwed fathers and 35 married couples.

Those numbers are highly speculative of course and while mothers having children from multiple fathers, or “Blended Families”, is fairly common now there is little in the way of solid stats to cite for Washington. I make a point of it here only for the statistical implications. If a non-married woman has two children from two men that shows on the census as two unwed births. The totals imply (2) unwed mothers and (2) unwed fathers when in real life numbers that would be (1) unwed mother and (2) unwed fathers.

The 2nd marriage stats in the above math only tracked custodial mothers, I could find little to generalize fathers and their second families with for just Washington. The number totals are further muddied because divorced fathers sometimes get added to the unwed father stats and sometimes get added to single men stats. The same applies to step-fathers with most adding them back into the single men category after a divorce.

If your talking with someone not very good at math you could just say that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and 30% of births are to unwed mothers which means that 80% of all fathers in Washington are unwed. I probably could of just typed that in the first place and saved myself the trouble of writing the last 7 paragraphs.

When discussing marriage and divorce that does raise the many topics involving custody. Generally speaking divorces that don’t involve the issue get settled without much conflict and represent only a small percent of total court time. Added to that non-married fathers have no rights to begin with and account for an even smaller percentage.

If the 30% unwed birth rate holds steady this means one out of every three children in Washington state will be taken from their father the moment they are born this year. Right off the top no questions asked.

Washington State Constitution
Article I Section 12
Special Privileges and Immunities Prohibited
No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.

Funny, last I looked children born to unwed fathers were treated very differently than those born to married fathers.

Of course our family law here is not considered unconstitutional. It is considered a “bonus” not a basic civil or human right that children of married couples enjoy a parental relationship with their father. Therefore children born to unwed couples who do not enjoy the same parental relationship are not actually being treated differently since there are no fathers to begin with here.

Talk about pessimistic. I’m not a lawyer but I am a common sense Washington state voter. These are our laws, those are the court reports, that is the census data and “that’s hows I reads them.” And not entirely pessimistic considering that there aren’t many politicians in office here who don’t, “Support Washington State family values.”

Next election season when one says that I wish a reporter would ask, “Do those values include fathers in them?”

I also draw exception to story after story in our media about lower marriage and birth rates all being the result of choices made only by women. I won’t even try and deny that those career and life choices are not a factor, of course they are. The problem is all of these studies and news reports assume that men are proposing marriage at the same rates we always have while at the same time providing nothing to support that point of view.

For starters, “Get married or your children will be taken from you,” is not called a reason to get hitched. That is called extortion. Next, even if you do get married your kids will still be taken from you resulting from divorce.

The U.S. census figures, linked above, show custodial fathers at 17%. That general range has held steady for decades. Here in Washington the latest court reports, also linked above, show the rate at 15%.

Personally, I wonder how much of that percentage are incarcerated mothers who will regain custody once they get out of jail. Regardless, “to raise children,” based on a best case 15% roll of the dice is no reason to get married.

Since I started this article with a stereotype I will fall back on another here and say the reason we still do is that every young man who’s in love feels that the 15% applying to them is an already foregone conclusion.

Good times.

And I will also say that every reliable study shows married biological parents as being the best home to raise children in.

But if you are going to do something, then do it right. I think most responsible men in this state can relate to that. And more and more of us seeing little point in even attempting marriage accounts for more than the 0% of lower birth and marriage rates being presented now by mass media’s studies and reports.

Being unwed in Washington also has some very real benefits. As I wrote about in article II paternity fraud is legal here and what few remedies men have to deal with that type of fraud mainly stem from being unwed. Once you are married those no longer apply.

Oddly enough, because we lagalized gay marriage here there is an outside chance Washington state might become the first state to get rid of arguably the most common form of paternity fraud, presumption of paternity by marriage.

RCW 26.26.116
Presumption of parentage in context of marriage or domestic partnership
(1) In the context of a marriage or a domestic partnership, a person is presumed to be the parent of a child if:
(a) The persons and the mother or father of the child are married to each other or in a domestic partnership with each other and the child is born during the marriage or domestic partnership

Currently our laws here in Washington regarding stem-cells and cloning don’t allow a woman to knock-up her wife. So when a pregnancy occurs within such a union its obvious that the other woman is not the father. However, under our presumption of paternity laws here, she in fact is. This opens up all types of new paternity fraud options that did not exist before.

One obvious example;

Wife A after however many years has met a man and started a relationship that results in a pregnancy causing wife B to file for divorce. Wife A as the birth mother retains custody and wife B as the presumed father gets stuck holding the next 20 years worth of bills even though the child is obviously not hers.

All wife A has to do is pull the, “She said she loved me and we were going to have a family together but now that I’m pregnant she’s filing for divorce and walking out the door on me,” routine.

Works like a charm.

And what can wife B say that defrauded male fathers haven’t already? The DNA test shows the child is not mine? Oh please. Its physically impossible for wife B to impregnate wife A? Nope, males who’ve had a vasectomy already tried that one. It is immoral, unethical and outright fraud? Yes, most paternity fraud victims will agree, no it doesn’t apply.

Best interest of the child trumps all and it is in the child’s best interest that wife A enjoy the same married lifestyle after a divorce as before one. Period.

Personally I can’t wait for all the, “Stand up and be a man,” public service type announcements aimed at all our wife B’s in a few years. Or the first demonstration parade demanding tougher prison sentences for deadbeat lesbian dads.

I’d march in that one just to get the t-shirt.

And the complete absurdity is the entire point. Article I Section 12 of our constitution remember? We can’t grant certain types of marriages immunities from our own marriage laws that other marriages don’t also have under those same marriage laws. So if presumptions of paternity are not applied to lesbian couples the same they are being applied to traditional couples then those laws, by definition, become unconstitutional.

If you start applying that same legal standard to custody, visitation, shared parenting, support order amounts, arrests, jail sentences and on and on… as much as I oppose gay marriage I can’t also help but acknowledge that many issues of equality our legislature has refused to give fathers we might yet realize through these new laws.

The Irony of same-sex unions resulting in stronger traditional marriages appeals to me. It would be nice to hold up at least one state in our union as an example while proclaiming, “Here there be fathers.”

~

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The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.

welcome header 2

June 16th is Fathers Day this year so if you haven’t picked a topic to trash talk about fathers with there’s still time!

The East Valley Tribune already has fathers in general walking out on their families and the  Huffington Post called shotgun on the fathers are to blame for everything bandwagon. Of course all us men should be very ashamed of ourselves and use this fathers day to repent by denouncing our local fathers rights organization.

Really? One day out of the year, just one, and media outlets still can’t find a single nice damn thing to say about fathers?!? Thank god for commercials trying to sell holiday crap, at least those put on a pretend salesmen smile for 30 seconds.

News outlets that use Fathers Day as an excuse to trash talk dads are the ones who should be ashamed this holiday into changing their ways.

And so because my dad is worth at least one nice thing in print, I for one will be joining others across this country who still love their fathers this Sunday by wishing him a Happy Fathers’ Day.

If you have ever heard the phrase, “Read until I went cross-eyed,” and have not the personal experience to relate, might I suggest an attempt to read your state and local statutes. One hour, tops, and you too will repeat that phrase to your friends and readers with ease.

Good grief. Blogging about family law in a state that just legalized gay marriage and is rewriting everything might not turn out to be one of my smarter moves.

In the first part of this article I painted a picture of putative father registries replacing fathers in my neighbor states with a rather ugly brush. Deservedly so in my obvious opinion. However, so it doesn’t seem like I am only throwing scorn with these articles and in a show of solidarity with my fellow pacific northwest states, even the parts sticking into the mountain zone, I present the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (DHHS)

I like how all 8 links in the table of contents direct a reader to the same .pdf file. I chose to interpret this as meaning even the federal government finds locating information about father sponsor programs as difficult as I do.

In particular of note is paragraph 3 on page 2 of said .pdf file. To paraphrase, “As of June 2010, Arizona, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands provide no statutes defining the term ‘Father’ at all.”

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Father type persons in Pacific Northwest registry states might be defined under state law as formless concepts amounting to little more than nothing, but at least that’s something. Here’s five states and three territories where fathers apparently are defined as being absolutely nothing.

/cheers, go us.

Here in Washington we so far don’t have a putative father registry that I know of though the .pdf above says we do. The statutes listed, #300 and #305, are just various ways to acknowledge paternity, not the establishment of a sponsor program. What we do have is a child support registry that in all honesty would be a better official name for the various father sponsor programs that have now spread to something like 35 states. Truth in advertising and all that.

We also have something called fathers here in Washington. In fact, we took a look at the territories around us and their lack of and are trying to make up for it by providing a wide selection of various shapes and sizes. We have; acknowledged fathers, adjudicated fathers, alleged fathers, relationship fathers, established fathers, determined fathers, domestic fathers, donor fathers, married fathers, unwed fathers and even something called a probable father. That’s just the highlights reel.

Unfortunately what we don’t have is just ‘Father’.

You know, blood of your blood and all that. I like to think this is a father type concept person most of the 7 million people here can relate to yet we seem to have skipped on past that one. Too obvious. The term is rather archaic and we use the modern variant ‘genetic’ as one of the sub-father categories a person can order on our parent menu but it doesn’t apply as a common sense standard.

As alluded to previously, Washington is a paternity fraud state. With a hundred-and-one different father type concept persons here it should be obvious that each one has its own fraud potentials.

One such type of paternity fraud is not committed by mothers or the result of presumptions by marriage, but is committed by the state itself through the establishment of paternity in our civil courts. Since there are no fathers as a general rule here, the state can thus assign by acknowledgment, determination or lottery type drawing that someone, anyone, is established as the father type concept person of a child.

Now, during the 1990s in the state of Washington when you received a notice from the courts that you had been assigned a child and  a support order was being filed, you, as the putative father, had 90 days to address the issue. Failure to do so in that time period would result in an automatic judgment against and there is nothing you could do about it after that. Ever. I know this because I received just such a notice in early October of 1998 regarding an ex whom I had broken up with months earlier.

As a disclaimer I don’t consider myself a paternity fraud victim, since I managed a last minute pardon from the govenor staying  execution of my sentence. If anything I think paternity fraud survivor would be a better fit if one is needed. And rather than search around for links to other cases in Washington its just easier to use myself as an example. Improving productivity through increased laziness one article at a time would make a good ‘West Report’ T-Shirt.

So the first thing I do the very next morning after receiving this notice is see my lawyer, which made the difference between victim and survivor in the above paragraph. The only further note I will make about that visit is it was made very clear from the start that custody was not an issue. All men are considered unfit parents for their own children here by default so there is no question of custody to begin with. No man, no problem. If the mother is found unfit, custody would then go to the child’s aunt(s), if any, and from there to the child’s grandparents.

On the mother’s side.

That’s right. Washington is so anti-father that grand-parents who have grand-daughters are considered more fit custodial parents than grand-parents who have grand-sons. Now I have yet to see the social science backing these statutes but they must make for some very interesting reading in order to reach such a conclusion.

Only after all of that when the custodial branches reached a choosing point between foster care, adoption and father care would I, as a man in the state of Washington, be given consideration for custody of my own child.

/cheers, go us.

Assuming the child was even mine of course and with that I proceeded to the official state DNA testing facility conveniently located in a basement office only a few blocks away.

Now the fist thing I notice when I got there, other than the basement part, is that it was full of women. Not in the waiting area mind, but the entire front and back offices with me the only civilian around. I hadn’t called ahead since this was so important, and had just grabbed a book, marked off the rest of my day and showed up determined to wait. I saw and talked to a lot of people working there during what followed and they were all women, I didn’t see a single man there the entire time. Not even any evidence of one having ever being there before in any role other than potential victim.

Talk about a hostile environment.

At least I didn’t have to wait long since I was the only one there and the staff began taking measurements and personal information right away. You know, to figure out what father type concept person fit best before some child was assigned to me by the state.  After taking a cheek swab the worker said the test results would be back in about 9 days and I think the official time was 15.

So a week goes by and then two. And then a third week goes by and then four so now it is November and still nothing. The month of November goes by and so does December. Still nothing. The opening business day of 1999, I find myself first thing in the morning,  talking with my lawyer just like the whole mess started the previous October. This time wondering, “what now? The 90 days is almost up and still no test results.”

Only after my lawyer contacted the state facility about filing for an extension on the 90 days did they turn over the results. Right there one call start to finish. So the results were obviously already sitting there and had presumably been so for months. I of course was not the child’s father.

What the state of Washington was trying to do by sitting on the results as explained to me was one of at least two things;

1) time me out so an automatic finding against as a ‘determined father’ by the courts would be entered and the support order then enforced by default.

2) the state was waiting to see if it could establish contact between the ex and myself. If there had been any during those months the courts could rule against me as a ‘relationship father’ so the DNA test couldn’t be used to contest the support order.

Since there are no fathers here you can see why we instead provide such a wide selection of father type concepts in their place. If one doesn’t fit then another can be found to suit  any shape, size or need. And yes, the wording that gives the impression of a disposable accessory item is intentional.

Notice also that when a woman tells you she is pregnant under our state law you are supposed to have no contact with her until you get the results of a DNA test. If you do then regardless of the results a finding making you the legal father can be entered by the court because in sticking around that is considered a voluntary establishment of a father child relationship. Neat huh? Try and keep that in mind the next, “Woe is me, I told him I was pregnant and he disapeared,” type movie you watch.

In any event, the obvious initial result of such a finding against me would have been the child’s actual father having his child taken from him by the state of Washington, knowingly, with my test results sitting right there the whole time. Not only that but the child would of then been assigned to a complete stranger, me, with no connection to it other than a previous involvement with the mother that had ended months before. That is what passes for “best interest of the child” in Washington state.

And I also bring up that point as an obvious example supporting the statement that no child in the state of Washington has a basic civil right to a parental relationship. For anyone keeping score, under the Children’s Bill of Rights as part of the U.N. Charter, that would be considered a human rights violation.

/cheers, go us.

In all fairness though, the state of Washington did recognize that this law was a problem. That too many wrongly named men were having to clear their good names in our courts. So later that very year in 1999 our legislature changed the statute from 90 days to resolve a paternity petition to 20 days. The state’s solution was to make it virtually impossible to contest such support orders. Not kidding, look up the old versions yourself.

I find that extraordinary since the state sat on my test results far longer than 20 days. If what had happened to me had been only one year later I would have had a default judgment against me in place for over two months before the state even admitted to having those results. At that point of course it would have been too late to contest the ruling.

I would like to write that things are better and since improved but they haven’t. The current version of the statute can be found here. Today, a man in this state has 60 days, but a new addition to the sentence, (B), that was not there before says, or until a court date. Since it doesn’t say otherwise I can only assume this can mean as little as only one day to contest a finding of paternity.

1 day. This in a state that sat on my results for months. Good grief. So almost 15 years later I can report that paternity fraud is not only alive and well here in Washington but easier to commit than ever.

I should hope by now its obvious I’m not a lawyer, which funny enough, means I can hand out all the legal advice I want. With that in mind and in light of us having just legalized gay marriage, doesn’t that mean a father type concept person no longer even has to be male? Which raises so many different topics I will use those for writing the next article.

I will mention it here as a closing by noting recent headlines in the case of William Marottoa as seen here from The Topeka Capital-Journal. Basically, a sperm donor did just that for a lesbian couple who broke up and the state now wants to place a child support order against the male donor, not the ex-parent.

Now the case seems to hinge on the fact that the donation wasn’t done through an official donor clinic so isn’t being considered valid. Kansas also does not recognize gay marriage so the birth mother was given custody of the child resulting in a support order filed against the sperm donor, not the lesbian ex.

Now obviously the specific legalities don’t reflect Washington, but it does raise some interesting questions if that case had happened here. We legalized gay marriage so its only a matter of time before it does.

The non-birth mother would be the legally recognized father type concept person under our statutes. The minor child would have the same rights of receiving child support under our statutes from the non-birth mother father type concept person as any other would. Does custody of the child still automatically default to the birth mother? In a marriage with no woman to default custody to does this mean gay fathers have greater parental and custodial rights than hetero fathers? Are deadbeat lesbian dads more or less likely to pay child support than male ones?

Don’t laugh, or try not to, but a “non-birth mother father” and “lesbian dad” are father type concept persons appearing soon in a statute near you too. Just wait. And obviously I will be using them as further examples to count the many ways why there really are no fathers.

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The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.
 
 

As an addendum to article #1, the host page for the Idaho registry form that was linked to is here, right side, third link from the bottom.

Also the 1999 date I listed for Oregon’s registry was from a legislative transcript but another from 2011 only suggests a registry. Odd wording if the state already has one. So the 1999 enactment date is most likely wrong but I have nothing solid to replace it with. I did find some reference to a Putative Father Registry form #45-115, but nothing at the state website. The .pdf above, current to 2010,  says Oregon doesn’t have a registry, but 2011 statutes about it, #109.094 and #109.225, here read as if it does. Adoption websites also direct readers to the putative registry in Oregon and provide only a physical mailing address for the state vital records office. So, make of the whole mess what you will.

I-502: Show me the money

April 12, 2013

If you were working a $30,000 a year job would you quit in exchange for a $15,000 a year job? The answer to that for most of us would be no, yet Washington State’s I-502 assumes black-market cannabis producers will do just exactly that.

Abbreviations, conversions and the math I used to reach the following figures have been included at the end of this article.

I-502 is the Washington State initiative from 2012 that legalized cannabis for recreational use, retail sale and of course to be taxed by the state. In a prior article I brought up the DUI aspect of I-502 and the 5 nanogram intoxication level. In this article I will take a look at tax revenues and shutting down black-market producers, both subjects having been presented to voters as reason for casting a ballot favoring this measure rather than opposed.

The rate of cannabis consumption needs to be looked at first when talking about taxes and production. Even though it has no real comparison with tobacco, news reports and this initiative have used it, so, for this article I shall also. To compare the two lets look at a single pound of cannabis.

1 pound of cannabis = 16 ounces = 128 eighths = 448 grams = 896 half gram joints, smoked once a day, every day, day after day, week after week, every month, month after month, without pause, ever, takes about 2.5 years to consume.

A non-filtered 100 mm length tobacco cigarette on average weights .68 grams. Your typical pack-a-day smoker during the same time period will consume about 27.2 pounds worth of cigarettes.

1 .oz, or 56 joints, is the legal possession limit and represents one purchase every two months for someone who consumes a joint every single day. As a social weekend activity, say two joints each weekend, that 1 .oz purchase is made once every seven months. For a casual user of 3-6 times a month, call it an annual purchase.

The common tobacco model should raise some obvious red flags when used to project tax revenue. Even a cursory glance shows that it will be either high or absurdly delusional. Using the above cannabis consumption rates, a realistic “cash windfall” tax projection for my city, per average user is $4.44 annually.

Our city’s council members could pan-handle more than that during lunch breaks downtown.

The only meaningful tax projection I can see stemming from I-502 is not in earnings but savings from all the arrests, bookings, court dates and imprisonments that will no longer take place. I think that would make a more coherent and factual argument when using cash as a reason to support this initiative.

Going back over the last 50 years of prohibition and taking out every budget increase that used “marijuana” to justify itself is huge, and no longer needed. Showing how all our property taxes are going to go down with reduced law enforcement budgets would get more public support I’m sure.

However, even if I-502 turns out to be, at best, revenue neutral, we will still be putting the black-market producers out of business right? That is the other main reason being pitched to support I-502.

For starters, unlike tobacco that can be bought anywhere, anytime, retail cannabis outlets are going to be few, far between and heavily regulated. That might not be much of a factor for someone living in the Seattle area that has a local transit system, but for the rest of the state it is worth including into the equation.

Not many people are going to drive 3 hours round-trip into town and back to pick up only the 1 ounce possession limit. People living in rural Washington can’t even do a Costco type run where they pool together money and a shopping list for whomever is going. Each person must go themselves or carpool. So obviously, anyone who can’t, does not own a car or simply won’t spend $400 per ounce, all things considered, is going to buy from the current black-market.

Tax projections supporting I-502 assume 100% of cannabis consumed in Washington State will be purchased from legal retail stores. This, in a state where 40% of all tobacco cigarettes and 100% of all recreational cannabis consumed is ALREADY being purchased from the black-market.

So, three hours on the road, gas money, snow and all the rest to buy your legal ounce? Or, call up the gal you’re getting it from already, have it delivered to your door and then go halves on a pizza once she gets there.

Real tough choice.

Since the passage of I-502, the suggested starting retail price of $12 per gram has been reported numerous times and works out to $42.00 per eighth. At first glance this seems comparable to the black-market price of $11.42 per gram or $40.00 per eighth. And most users I feel when given the choice are going to purchase from a retail store if it’s only a few dollars difference.

The math after that starts to break down though. Currently in Washington State an ounce of cannabis on the black-market is $240. Unlike the black-market, legal retail stores don’t give bulk purchase discounts and will cost $336 per ounce, or $362.88 after 8% sales tax. What consumer is going to willingly pay $122 more for the exact same product just for giggles?

Really, I would like to know. I have this floating bridge for sale you see…

Anyway, the disparity compounds even further when looking at a one pound purchase. Currently in Washington State a black-market producer can expect, at minimum, $2500 per pound. A pound purchased from a legal retail outlet will cost $5376 per pound at $12 per gram, with sales tax, $5806 per pound.

Now what black-market producer is going to stop what they are already doing, register as a legal producer, and make half of what they were before? As I started this article off with, who is going to quit a $30,000 a year job for a $15,000 one?

A legally produced pound of product will earn the licensed producer $1344 per pound. For a black-market producer making $2500 per pound who becomes legal they will have to produce twice the product as before just to get back up to $0.

After that point all the startup costs such as permits, building leases, zoning inspections, barb wire fences, certified guard towers, licensed machine gun operators, 24 hour a day video surveillance, time share on the aerial drone monitoring your growing district and god knows what else all have to be paid for by producing even more product.

The projected starting annual sales figure of 180,000 pounds of product is based on current usage models and accounts for no increase in costs under a legal system. Doubling production to break even and then tripling it to cover overhead and profits means that a staggering 540,000 pounds, or 270 tons, would need to be produced and then sold annually through legal outlets.

Which does leave the unanswered question of who the hell is going to buy all this dope?

In order for the state to render a black-market pointless it would need to sell at a net retail price of $8.60 per gram, $30.10 per eighth, just to start taking over market share. And then go down from there. However, even at $8.60 per gram, that still leaves a legal price of $3852 per .lb compared with a black-market price of $2500 per .lb which works out to only $5.58 per gram.

Less than half the suggested legal starting price of $12.

The current model being pitched to the public for supporting I-502 is to match the black-market price, then jack that price up over 200% in order to undercut them.

Doomed to fail.

In my opinion the only market projected to get a “cash windfall” from the current version of I-502 is the black one.

If Washington is really serious about severely reducing black-market cannabis production then it should allow people to simply grow their own and adopt a hands off laissez-fair approach to legal retail.

Without this option a consumer is faced with only two choices;

(A) Pay over 200% more for your product

(B) Call up your usual supplier and ask her what she wants on her pizza.

Abbreviations

1 pound (.lb)
1 ounce (.oz)
1 eighth of an ounce (1/8th)
1 gram (g)

Conversion

3.5 grams per eighth
8 eighths per ounce
16 ounces per pound

Producer to Consumer Chain

* $14 per 1/8th = $1792 .lb = Producer $1344 / State $448 (25% tax)
* $1792 + 30% distributor markup = $2329.60 + 25% tax = $2912 .lb = Distributor $537.60 / State $582.40
* $2912 + 30% retail markup = $3785.60 + 25% tax = $4732 .lb = Retailer $873.60 / State $946.40
* $4732 + 8% sales tax = $5110.56 .lb, $319.41 .oz, $39.93 1/8, $11.41 g

legal retail price of $39.93 1/8th * black-market $40.00
legal retail price of $319.41 .oz * black-market $240.00
legal retail price of $5110.56 .lb * black-market $2500

Local sales tax revenue $378.56 per .lb ($23.66 per .oz)
State tax revenue $1976.80 per .lb ($123.55 per .oz)
* 6.5% of local sales tax goes to the state also

Gross Income Totals

legal producer earns $1344 .lb
legal distributor earns $537.60 .lb
legal retailer earns $873.60 .lb
black-market producer earns $2500 .lb

All prices assume a very high quality, medical grade product. A pound of common brown bud, or ditch weed, costs only about $100 or .23¢ a gram.

This article was originally published April 11, 2013 and was rewritten after accounting errors were pointed out by some helpful readers. Thank you!

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     3 opinions about recent news topics that have caught my eye.

Hindenburg Mystery Solved?

     Personally, I thought this mystery had been solved back in 2000, but new headlines are announcing the results of a research team in England claiming the spark starting the fire was from static electricity. The articles are short on facts, being presented as a teaser for a documentary on British Channel 4 rather than an actual news story.

     Whether from static, lightning, conductor or bomb I have been under the impression that what started the fire was secondary to why it consumed the ship so fast. The public broadcast back in 2000 pointed out the powdered aluminum used to give the ship its distinct silver exterior. Watching the video of the disaster even reminds me of a water balloon popping in ultra slow motion. The skin just goes and the interior water sits there for a moment before splashing out. Who really cares what started the fire? Just don’t paint the outside of your ship with solid state rocket fuel.

     What “new” facts come to light we shall see. Fires happen, our modern marvel of today, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner comes to mind and this is 76 years later. If the Hindenburg’s hull had maintained structural integrity even for 30 more seconds that might of let it descend enough and burned off enough gas for at least a chance of survivors. Unlikely, but better than the zero chance those poor buggers had. Hopefully this new study goes into some of that.

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Cannabis Legalization

     Living up here in Washington State this has been a never ending source of amusement since I-502 was passed by voters back in December. Recent in the headlines is the debate over impaired driving, with this “5 nanogram” number being thrown around.

     I find the lack of facts on the issue to be extremely frustrating as a voter. 3 months later and story after story keeps posting up this 5 nanogram number as if it is supposed to mean something. Where is the supporting information? What is the level detected in a blood test 10 minutes after smoking? What is the level 3 hours after smoking? The next day? Where did this 5 nano-number come from in the first place? 7 days after smoking a person might test 5 nanograms so where did these week-long-high buds come from? And are they for sale in Washington?

     CNN recently did a story with at least some information about impaired driving and blood nanogram levels in it. According to that source, after smoking a joint the average level from the test subjects was about 25 nanograms. That is far and above the 5 nanograms opponents of legalization are asking for and this is the only report I have seen with at least some facts in it.

     Both sides of this issue really need to do a better job of informing voters with facts. If supporters of this testing level want my vote then show me the blood test studies so I can make up my own mind as the informed voter I am supposed to be.  As it is now, by all measure I can see, the 5 nanogram level amounts to a zero use policy which is in violation of state law legalizing consumption.

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North Korea
 
     “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” ~ George Santayana ~

     A new leader, a nuclear bomb test and the 38th parallel all rolled into one. While I do feel the Korean War is given the short shaft in our history books, bombing the ass end of this country back into the stone age (again) hopefully will not be needed to refresh some memories.

     I struggle with the reasons why North Korea continues on the path that it does with the international community through its foreign policy. All things considered, the rest of the world is surprisingly tolerant of rogue states. Just play nice and for the most part oppressors are allowed to do whatever.

     After 12 years of police actions in the anti-terror war, rather than be war weary I feel many would see a conflict with North Korea as a refreshing change of pace. Actual borders? Physical territory to occupy? Achievable objectives? A uniformed enemy to target? A South Korea to take over already right there? It would be the most intense six hours of combat the world has ever seen as the U.S. military just blew off steam.

     Ok, that is overly simplistic, but recent actions taken by the North are doing more to provoke an action rather than prevent one. North Korea would be far better served by opening borders to trade, immigration and tourism. Securing a place for itself with the international community through peaceful means is the right way for Kim Jong Un to retain power.

     China is the reason the North still exists and the politics of 1953 are different than today. Recent expansionist actions in the South China Sea does make one wonder if China would be better served in that strategy by allowing the North to end. A unified Korea would presumably see the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula leaving a small country of little threat even if it is headed by the South.

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The West Report
The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Facts, Relevance or Claims of lucidity are purely coincidental.