Statistics Canada released the National Cannabis Survey results for the fourth quarter of 2018 yesterday. Despite comedic predictions that Canada will become “the stoner living in America’s attic” after it legalized cannabis for recreational use, the early results suggest nothing much has changed. The survey found:
Alex Berenson’s recent attempt to generate panic at the prospect that marijuana use may become legalized and normalized, with his book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, even borrows its title from the camp 1930s propaganda film Reefer Madness. While not nearly as over-the-top as the film, Berenson certainly exaggerates suggestions that marijuana can cause psychosis.
That all industries are being disrupted to some extent by new entrants coming in from technology. We, again, being, you know, technology-oriented ourselves, try to disrupt ourselves and try to figure out what’s the new thing, and come up with new platforms, new forms of distribution, new products. But in some ways, and there are some parts of our business, where it’s very hard for outside entrants to come in, disrupt our business, simply because we’re so regulated. You’ll hear people in our industry talk about the regulation. And they talk about it, you know, with a sigh: Look at the burdens of regulation. But in some cases, the burdensome regulation acts as a bit of a moat around our business.
The Washington Post reports on a new example: the legalized marijuana market in California. Libertarians have long urged the legalization of marijuana and other drugs. Certainly I expect better results from a legal regime where people are not arrested for buying, selling, or using marijuana. But governments can’t just repeal laws and stop arresting people; instead, they prefer to set up a regime of taxes and regulation. And that’s having an effect on the small marijuana growers in the state’s “Emerald Triangle.” As Scott Wilson reports in the Post:
Humboldt County, traditionally shorthand for outlaw culture and the great dope it produces, is facing a harsh reckoning. Every trait that made this strip along California’s wild northwest coast the best place in the world to grow pot is now working against its future as a producer in the state’s $7 billion-a-year marijuana market.
A massive industry never before regulated is being tamed by laws and taxation, characteristically extensive in this state. Nowhere is this process upending a culture and economy more than here in Humboldt, where tens of thousands of people who have been breaking the law for years are being asked to hire accountants, tax lawyers and declare themselves to a government they have famously distrusted.
Wilson estimates that “Fewer than 1 in 10 of the county’s estimated 12,500 marijuana farmers are likely to make it in the legal trade….Less than 1 percent of the estimated 69,000 growers statewide have received a permit to farm marijuana since the beginning of the year.”
Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both impressed audiences in the last debate. Senator Rubio’s positions on immigration are discussed frequently, but Senator Cruz is normally viewed as an immigration restrictionist – an unfair characterization. It’s more important to look at Senator Cruz’s actions when he offered amendments to the 2013 “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 744) than it is to cherry-pick a few quotes. Senator Cruz did end up voting against S. 744, but only after he offered many amendments.
Senator Ted Cruz was a tremendous supporter of skilled immigration and supported massively expanding the size of those programs, even beyond what was proposed in S. 744. He offered four amendments (1324, 1326, 1586, 1587), to expand the number of employment based green cards to over a million annually. Senator Cruz offered two amendments (1325 and 1585) to increase the number of H-1B visas issued annually to 325,000 while S. 744 allowed an upward bound of 180,000 annually (with some upward adjustments possible). In other words, Senator Cruz’s amendment intended to practically double the number of H-1B visas over that which was proposed in the Senate’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill. Amendment 1587 also increased the number of H-1B visas and employment based green cards. Senator Cruz’s amendments would have also allowed the spouses of all H-1B visa holders to work legally – going beyond President Obama’s actions to increase work eligibly for those spouses. Expanding the number of green cards and H-1B visas for skilled workers would have been a tremendous boost to the U.S. economy.
Does three make a trend? I can’t recall hearing much discussion of legalizing prostitution in the recent past, and suddenly this week I’ve seen three significant reports in the media. Are they straws in the wind? Could the legalization of prostitution be the next social reform to come to the fore?
First, last Thursday the Telegraphreported on a new study from the venerable free-market think tank in London, the Institute for Economic Affairs:
The sex trade should be fully decriminalised because feminism has left modern men starved of sex, one of Baroness Thatcher’s favourirte think-tanks claims.
A controversial new paper published by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) calls for Britain’s prostitution laws to be scrapped, insisting it is “inevitable” that men will resort to paying for sex as women become more empowered through participation in the workplace.
Then on Tuesday Amnesty International voted, as the New York Timesput it, “to support a policy that calls for decriminalization of the sex trade, including prostitution, payment for sex and brothel ownership.” The full policy, which still requires final approval from the board, can be found here. The new policy
is based on the human rights principle that consensual sexual conduct between adults—which excludes acts that involve coercion, deception, threats, or violence—is entitled to protection from state interference (bearing in mind that legitimate restrictions may be imposed on sex work, as noted below).
Those who support immigration reform note that any executive action by the President will poison the well for reform, making it impossible for Congress to move piecemeal bills to the President’s desk. Last year, one of the most effective arguments against immigration reform was that President Obama would not enforce the law as written, a prediction that seems to be borne out with this executive action. The Wall Street Journal editorial board said it the best:
If he does issue an executive order, we hope Republicans don’t fall for his political trap. He and many Democrats want Republicans to appear to be anti-immigrant. They want the GOP to dance to the Steve King-Jeff Sessions blow-a-gasket caucus.
To poison the well of reform there actually had to be water in the well to begin with. I’m not convinced there was. If there was a serious Congressional effort to reform immigration in the immediate future, then the President’s actions here would totally derail it.
It’s no secret that the Senate’s proposed legalization for some unauthorized immigrants was a deal breaker in 2013. Detractors labelled such a legalization “amnesty” even though it is anything but that – and that label has stuck. That, at minimum, some unauthorized immigrants become legalized is economically and ethically imperative, so it’s time to consider less-than-comprehensive, keyhole solutions that will fix at least some of the problems with our immigration system.
One such solution, which even many of those opposed to immigration reform have endorsed, is a small legislative reform to the 3/10 year bars that will allow some unauthorized immigrants to depart and apply for reentry under the legal system without special treatment. This reform would avoid the so-called amnesty objection to immigration reform.
Removing the Bars
The 3/10 year bars require any immigrant who stays in the United States illegally for more than six months but less than one year may not leave, reenter, or apply for a green card for three years. Any immigrant who illegally stays for more than a year may not leave, reenter, or apply for a green card for 10 years. Any immigrant who violates it triggers a twenty-year ban from reentering the United States for any reason. That’s a problem because almost all applicants for a green card or visa have to visit a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to apply which, in the case of unauthorized immigrants, requires them to leave the Untied States thus triggering the bars. The 3/10 year bars prevent any unauthorized immigrant from using the legal immigration system.