December 6th 2014



This story illuminates some of the ways that racism and bigotry informed cannabis policy in the Nixon white house. We break new ground by revealing how Nixon actively participated in blacklisting health scientists at The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) with empirical research. We show how the administration ignored policy recommendations from a congressionally mandated commission that cost tax-payers millions to produce.


O’Shaughnessy’s: The Journal of Clinical Cannabis was the first review this story. The reviewer reminds us that “[I]t wasn’t just marijuana that got prohibited, it was the truth about history.”

The article is currently published @medium


Steve Hyde
Director of Communications
Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy (CASP)
6701 Greenwood Ave N.
Seattle WA. 98103
twitter. @reachcasp
mb. 206.724.7929

Link directly to the interactive web story here

I-502 Moratorium Update!


by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

Yesterday I received another phone call from an I-502 applicant asking after a moratorium update. We do not have the human resources to keep up with our series, but the Municipal Research and Services Center is paid by Washington State to do so and finally has caught up and surpassed our previous work.

We may or may not continue the moratorium geography series, but it is very important to provide direction to people who have the resources to do so. Here is the link:

If you have used our information in the past year, now is a great time to remind you that we are a grassroots nonprofit 501c3 startup run on donations, and that we do have a donate button on the left. I don’t know how many people I’ve encountered in the last six months that have gone out of their way to thank us for our work, but I can tell you how many of those have donated: Zero.

The irony of asking for donations in a post that links to someone else’s work is not lost on me. I like to think of it as showing people what we did in the public interest with hardly a dime to our budget, and what can happen when an organization is empowered to continue their work. The State of Washington has their contract research organizations, and we have never been approached to help despite how far ahead of organizations with way more resources and direct connections to information that percolates within rather than flows out of the system in a limited fashion.

Imagine what we could do with some funding, any funding at all.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated, and it would be tax deductible.

Thank you,


Dominic Corva

Dr. Corva Feedback on Senator Kohl-Welles draft legislative points

Tagung "Legalize it?!", 28.5.2014, Dr. Dominic Corva

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

The following text was sent as my response to Senator Kohl-Welles’ draft medical marijuana legislation that was circulated around November 20th. The Senator’s staff is at work re-drafting in light of feedback she has requested from cannabis stakeholders, and it will be interesting to see if and how this synthesis of feedback may be incorporated. I do not include the attached line-item feedback that was sent, as that’s not the purpose of this post.

The second part of the message communicates information that is not directly relevant to the Senator’s draft language. It is, however, a concise re-statement of necessary information for any legislator or policymaker that thinks shutting down medical cannabis markets will mitigate black market activity. I believe that the opposite is true, and have been asked by one of our lobbyists to get that information to legislators, given its contradictory implications for what the legislature thinks would happen.

As always, I present this information less to represent any particular agenda, including Medical Cannabis, and more to optimize the ecology of cannabis policies evolving in Washington State.


Dear Senator Kohl-Welles,

Sorry for the delay! It does allow me more considered synthesis.

First, I want you to know I understand that there are political considerations for legislative proposals and that none of my suggestions that are not politically feasible should be taken as end-point critiques. They do however provide starting points for getting, eventually, to reality-based rather than politically-based policy. The sooner we get there the better, but I believe that cannabis legalization is first about ending the drug war, and that means political considerations are paramount.

This applies especially to all efforts to legislate the patient-doctor relationship when it comes to cannabis, as opposed to existing patient-doctor relationship regulations via DOH oversight. The very concept of “approved conditions” falls into this category. Legally, of course, since medical cannabis operates in the fictional world of controlled substance categories, “approved conditions” are conditions that are politically acceptable contradictions of Federal law — space for policy to work despite or in the face of absolute legal prohibition. What seems to be desperately needed is research that expands those politically acceptable conditions; but the reality is that that will come sooner or later and we will eventually arrive at common sense: all conditions that an informed and educated doctor deems appropriate should be allowed. Of course, we need broad training for medical doctors because they have far less knowledge about what conditions people use cannabis for than the people that actually use cannabis for said conditions, regardless of law or authorized medical supervision. I understand the State is dedicating money towards this end, so highlighting this process publicly is very important.

Regarding plant limits for personal gardens: I think it’s very important to distinguish between flowering and nonflowering plants. The latter have no economic or recreational value (ie active THC), and the former are necessary for breeding and phenotype selection for optimizing getting the chemotype you want.

Regarding extracts: Solventless whole plant extractions (ie no butane or C02 extractions pose no risk of any sort) and should not be prohibited from home production.

I have a number of other comments in the text of the hopefully successfully attached document, please look at those.

In general, this is a much more reality-based legislative proposal than any I’ve seen, and I hope it sets us down that path.

Finally, I’ve been asked to share information with you that has meta-implications for the political field in which decisions about “medical marijuana” get made. I understand the politics of regulating medical marijuana to be influenced mostly by the state’s desire for revenue. As I see it, policymakers don’t understand the reality of WA State cannabis markets or consumption, and think that medical cannabis IS the black market; and that most medical cannabis is produced in-state.

The reality is that Washington imports far more cannabis than it consumes, especially from California. That means that at least 50% of the product in dispensaries probably comes from California, and will not stop coming to WA state if medical access points are closed down. Instead, it will divert to black market distribution. WA is also a transit state: a huge amount of cannabis that comes from CA is re-exported elsewhere.

Finally, policymakers do not understand that a significant chunk of the black market cannabis that comes up here not only ends up in access points, but is distributed the old fashioned black market way. Black market consumers will not turn to regulated markets until prices and quality approach comparability. Therefore, medical cannabis regulations that close off paths to legitimacy stimulate, rather than mitigate, the prevalence of black market proliferation in WA state.

In general, it is profoundly naive to think that I-502 plus stricter medical regulations will necessarily shrink black market activity.  The opposite is true; and under conditions of Federal and Global prohibition the black market will not be mitigated any time soon. The peaceful and socially optimal approach is to create more pathways out of the black market, on the one hand; and to “overgrow” the black market so that consumers prefer and are able to purchase regulated cannabis. We need more (in-state) medical and legal production for this to happen.

It is important to understand that the above information can be used the wrong way — against medical access points, on account of so much of their product coming from out of state. No matter how shady an access point is, it is a step towards legitimacy and a great alternative to truly underground transactions.

Thank you for your time and attention,


Dr. Dominic Corva

Executive Director

Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy

Health Scientist Blacklisting and the Meaning of Marijuana in the Oval Office in the Early 1970s

Twitter and Facebook enthusiasts are invited to participate in our new interactive story by clicking on the image below. Tweet it to your peeps and please add your comments.   It’s designed for ipad and mobile.  Thanks to the folks @medium for designing this collaborative platform.  And thank you in advance for participating in this story.   Retweet.

White House Phone 1971

White House Phone 1971


Dr. Corva Interview for German Cannabis Policy Conference

Video by Steve Hyde with some editing by Maximilian Plenert.

by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

The embedded interview was requested by Maximilian Plenert on behalf of  Prof. Heino Stöver, University of Applied Science Frankfurt Germany and Chair of Akzept e.V., a nationwide umbrella organisation for promoting the acceptance of drug-work and humane drug-policies in Germany. It was shown at international conference about the responsible regulation of cannabis on the communal and municipal level in Frankfurt on November 17, 2014.

Dr. Sexton at Los Angeles Drug Policy Alliance Event November 12, 2014

Dr Sexton

by Terrie Best

On November 12, 2014, The Drug Policy Alliance, an organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, hosted the Marijuana and Public Health conference in Los Angeles, CA. The event, held in the Barnsdall Gallery Theater, was attended by cannabis policy watchers from across the state. The main mission of the conference was to inform California citizens, public health officials, policy makers and stakeholders on lessons learned from Colorado and Washington’s marijuana legalization programs and the public health impacts of those programs.

The Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy’s Dr. Michelle Sexton spoke at the conference.  Her message was clear: any cannabis legalization efforts in California must preserve patient rights garnered under Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420.  Adult use of cannabis and medical use of cannabis should be regulated independent of each other. Dr. Sexton is opposed to regulating medicine as a vice in the manner of alcohol and tobacco and hopes the medical cannabis portion of any program will be regulated through a consumer protection or health agency. Dr. Sexton emphasized addressing the unnecessary vulnerability California patients receive in the form of diminished reliable access and civil rights.  And, she believes patient rights to grow their own medicine should be preserved to address any access voids or to guarantee access to strains not available in the wider legalized market.

The panel of experts included several providers who tended to agree with Dr. Sexton that standardized testing, is the precursor to accurate dosage labeling and should also be part of the dialog to protect patients as the legalization law is written.

The Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy thanks the Drug Policy Alliance for hosting the event and inviting Dr. Sexton to speak.  We are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of drug policy conversations that are backed by research and science and we look for to more opportunities to collaborate.

Alison Holcomb on the City of Seattle’s proposal to regulate City Medical Marijuana Access Points

Active_Pending_Medical Seattle Map 07162014
Active_Pending_Medical Seattle Map 07162014
Map by Steve Hyde. The map is from July and is not up to date
[The following email is reprinted with permission from the author, Alison Holcomb. She is responding to an invitation from the Mayor’s office to a medical marijuana stakeholder meeting on December 2 about the City of Seattle’s proposal for regulating access points in the City — ed]

Dear [City of Seattle Mayor’s Office],

Thank you for the invitation to participate in this meeting.  Unfortunately, I will be in New York next Tuesday.

I am very concerned about the Mayor’s proposal to create a special, Seattle-specific ordinance purporting to regulate medical marijuana businesses.

The Washington State Court of Appeals recently determined that medical marijuana businesses are not legal.  Cannabis Action Coalition v. City of Kent.  The state Supreme Court accepted review of the decision last month.  At a minimum, it is premature to contemplate licensing businesses deemed unlawful under state law.  Absent action by the legislature in the upcoming session (which action I believe will be taken), it is the Supreme Court, not Seattle, that should first “[c]larify laws regarding medical marijuana for all involved including patients, dispensaries, processors, and law enforcement.”

Moreover, it is redundant to expend city time and resources considering regulations for collective gardens engaged in commercial activity (producers), dispensaries (retailers), and edible and concentrate product manufacturers (processors).  Regulations for these entities already exist under state law.  If those regulations are thought inadequate or inappropriate, amendment should be sought at the state level to avoid the possibility of litigation over conflicting state and local laws.

Thank you again for the invitation.  I’m sorry I won’t be able to participate in the discussion.  Hopefully, you’ll find these remarks somewhat helpful.


Best regards,



Alison Holcomb

National Director, ACLU Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

Emerging Trends in I-502 Sales – The first 4 months


by Dr. Jim MacRae, CASP Research Associate & Dr. Dominic Corva, Executive Director

With the first four months of the I-502 legal cannabis market now behind us, this article presents a summary of the daily sales data provided by the LCB that reveals patterns and trends becoming apparent in those data.  We then provide preliminary estimates regarding what sales levels might be over the next 20 months of Washington State’s first Legal Cannabis Biennium (ironically – LCB), and the resulting excise tax revenue to the State.

We begin by making a chart of daily I 502 sales available from the Nov. 18 WSLCB update. This allows us a “jagged” look at the four-month trend, and we are able to identify intra-week patterns and daily variation in the data. We focus next on daily variation, which allows us to see common weekly patterns in the revenue stream. This level of detail reveals recurring tendencies in weekly cycles and date-specific outliers associated with retail spikes and dips. Next, we filter these intra-week spikes out of the data in order to analyze weekly changes and trends over time.  This allows us to make some preliminary projections about the development of Washington’s legal cannabis revenues for businesses and the state. It is important to note that as we refine our methods and take into account seasonal variation, these projections will change. However, the following charts allow us a starting point for talking about the evolution of markets and the effectiveness of I 502 as a State revenue policy.

Daily Sales Observation and Analysis

Chart 1 details daily overall levels of I-502 sales (from Producers, Processors & Retailers) spanning the first  19 weeks  of the WA recreational cannabis market, as reported by the LCB.  These data have been customized to include internal LCB adjustments for sales reported late by I-502 businesses.

Total Daily 502 Sales

Chart 1

While this chart displays an overall trend upward, its dominant feature is one of regular, high – frequency spiking “noise”. Three of the four days  in which sales exceeded $750,000 occurred in the first half of November, or the last three weeks.  The other spike was during Hempfest/CannaCon in mid-August, and we can predict with some confidence that this will be an annual spike.

The cyclical noise dominating this trend appears to be driven primarily by the “day-of-week” sales pattern detailed in Chart 2 Sales peak through the weekend before dropping off during the weekday.  This suggests that I-502 consumers are indeed consuming “recreationally” in a pattern consistent with the work week, on the one hand, and the presence of tourists closer to the weekend on the other. It would be interesting to compare this weekly variation with alcohol sales, or revenue from other “recreational” consumables.


Chart 2

This weekend-preparatory pattern of I-502 Sales led to our decision to display and analyze the daily overall Sales data as a 7-day (trailing) moving average to better understand this market’s week-to-week growth pattern, smoothed out from its jagged daily course. The trend of this moving-average sales metric, along with a few highlighted annotations, follows in Chart 3.



Chart 3

Note: It is expected that the last point or two will always be artificially low because of delays in reporting to the LCB.  We think that it’s better-than-even odds that we are seeing the beginning of a trend break upwards.  We’ll know in the next few weeks.

With the intra-week noise removed, the relatively consistent growth in sales over the past 3 months is apparent, as is the tendency for small spikes in sales to occur around the beginning of each calendar month, followed by a sharp (and brief) decline.  The decline seen following the monthly peaks at the beginning of August, September, and October did not occur in November.  It is likely that these peaks correspond to a month-end (or beginning) pay period, which is common to people paid weekly, semi-monthly, and monthly — as well as many people receiving Federal benefits.

The lack of a sharp decline immediately following the initial peak seen November 1 is consistent with a bolus of product entering the pipeline, as expected given the outdoor harvest that occurred last month. In this scenario, increased revenues from production and processing make up for retail sales that usually drive total revenues (since prices are highest at the retail point, with near-zero inventory).

Given the presence of a reasonably consistent monthly cycle revealed after filtering out the intra-week spikes, we felt that it would be useful to look at average daily sales per month and the growth seen in this number from month-to-month.  Chart 4 summarizes this information, and allows us to focus directly on how the growth in this market is changing from month-to-month.



 Chart 4

This chart reveals a relatively consistent pattern over the past three months, with month-on-month percentage growth averaging in the low 30s.  We are using “average daily sales” as the metric and November is only three weeks in, so it will be interesting to see if the autumn harvest pushes this month’s daily average sales upwards over the next week.

We now explore this growth trend using a simple linear forecast that largely ignores the recent upward inflection, and presents preliminary (admittedly weak) estimates of annual sales and excise tax levels over the next 20 months.  We also will compare these with tax estimates released this week by the Washington State Economic & Revenue Forecast Council.

The Linear Trend

The simple “best-fit” linear trend is displayed on Chart 3 as a thin grey ascending line.  The formula describing this best-fitting straight-line prediction of sales is:

Sales = $92,517 * ($3,077 * day)

This basically says that on day “zero”, Sales started at $92,517 (the intercept) and $3,077 additional dollars are added on each subsequent day (the slope of the line).

This line has an R-squared of .83, meaning that it’s not a bad fit for the smoothed moving average data. If this linear growth were to continue through July 7, 2015 (defining the first full “year” of the I-502 market), we would see sales of $240 million of I-502 sales in this first full year (generating $60 million in excise tax revenue).  $65 million of these sales, and $16 million of excise tax are expected in calendar year 2014.

Going forward, and as a very conservative assumption, we opted to run the terminal daily sales level of this forecast (just over $1,200,000 of projected sales on July 7, 2015) and assume that this level of sales “flat-lines” as a constant for each of the next 365 days.  This produces, for the second half of Washington’s first cannabis biennium, $444 million in sales and $111 million in excise tax revenue.



Chart 5

Estimates published this week by the Washington State Economic & Forecasting Council place the total taxes to be collected relating to I-502 at $43 million in the period ending June, 2015.  This estimate includes excise tax revenue, sales tax revenue, and B&O tax revenue.  In contrast, our simple estimate above suggests that $60 million in excise tax revenue alone will be collected during this time period.  This discrepancy may well be the result of the simple linear forecast that we used.  Such a model does not take into account annual seasonality in any way, particularly as it is based on such a limited set of actual data (only 4 months’ worth).

Extending this flat-line out an additional year would suggest a total excise tax revenue of $222 million in the biennium ending June, 2017.  This, again, seems higher than the official estimate released this week that suggest a total tax revenue during the 2015-2017 biennium of $237 million (with excise, sales, and B&O taxes included).  We eagerly await additional data that will allow us more confidence in our estimates.

Implications: What we see, and what we don’t see

Our analysis provides evidence of discernible patterns developing within the evolution of the Washington State Legal Cannabis market, and allows us to demonstrate that even by conservative metrics, business and tax revenues from I-502 show no signs of faltering in the coming year.

There is no indication in this particular analysis that the initial surge of growth seen over the first 4 months of our legal cannabis market is going to slow down any time soon. However, we have yet to introduce our first evolutionary market challenge: what is known in cannabis black markets as the “dry season,” when outdoor cannabis agriculture goes dormant for the winter.  In a forthcoming post, we will look into how we think this will play out in our much more limited legal production market. For now, however, we are sure that at least a third of approved Tier 3s just had their last harvest till July 2015. How that affects the market depends on how much those businesses decide to keep as inventory and dole out over time, to get the best wholesale prices, and how many of those businesses simply pushed all of their product into the system.

We also note, with caveats, that fewer than 25% of the allocated retail stores are licensed let alone open for business, and fewer than 15% of production and/or processing licenses have been granted. This would seem to suggest that this level of growth will continue for at least the next year or two, as those approval rates fill in. However, we understand that many of the pending applications for production and processing are not viable, and that we are probably much further along the production possibility curve than these numbers suggest.





[VIDEO] Filmmaker Mikal Jakubal discusses his film ONE GOOD YEAR with Seattle audience at CASP fundraiser

Thanks to everyone for joining CASP at New Freeway Hall last night – especially filmmaker Mikal Jakubal who shared with us the story of family farming Humboldt style. ONE GOOD YEAR is a film about people who plant marijuana and grow a community. We have prepared a video of the Q&A with Mikal held after the screening.

If you would like to make a contribution to CASP – please use the donate button in the column menu to the left. Thank you.

See you in Southern Oregon tomorrow!




by Dominic Corva, Executive Director

Special thanks to Steve Hyde, Joy Beckerman, Naz Victoria, Rachel Kurtz, Don Wirtschafter, Michelle Sexton, New Freedom Hall, and of course documentary filmmaker Mikal Jakubal for putting together our screening of One Good Year last night!  Next up: Dr. Corva goes to Southern Oregon to meet the Oregon SunGrown Grower’s Guild, organized by the fabulous Kaitrin Arnold!