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2016-11-13 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Market Musings , 447 references
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Why is tech falling apart post-election while the DOW is at all-time highs?

Simple: A Trump Presidency probably means the end of the leech.

Let's look at who this impacts:

1. Forced "net neutrality" that in fact isn't "net neutrality" at all, but was crammed down the throat of the cable industry to help Netflix.  That's probably gone under a Trump Administration.  What does Netflix have left as a business model if it has to pay for its own distribution costs without being able to shift them onto non-customers?  Nothing, as I've pointed out for years, and given Netflix's forward content cost commitments that makes them odds-on to be a zero.

2. Profiting from counterfeit products from China is likely to be curtailed -- or even prosecuted.  Bye-bye Amazon's ridiculous P/E.  No, they're not a zero, but they might be a sub-$100 stock -- easily.

3. Facebook -- think you can steal everyone's location data and use it as you wish?  Uh, maybe not.  More to the point, The Rule of Law may get in the way of a lot of those sorts of plans.  Hmmm.... Not looking so good eh?  Back to $20 you go.

4. Google -- advertising for counterfeit products from China is very profitable.  What happens if that all goes away?  No, this doesn't zero Google by any means but it sure does hurt them.  25% haircut?  Probably.

5. Tesla/Solar City.  Bye-bye.  Tax farms?  They're all zeros for the simple reason that they're all highly-levered on the debt side and have no prayer in hell of survival without said tax farming capacity.  Expect all of that to disappear under a Trump administration, and with it all the firms reliant on it.

6. Any CEO or company that whines about the election or issues what some would consider thinly-veiled threats aimed at "wrong-voting" employees or customers.  We've had two so far that I'm aware of, and both have been taken out back and bent over the woodpile behind the shed.  I suspect CEOs will learn fast that it's a path to immediate ruin to***** off half your customers, but you'd have thought they were smarter than that in the first place, so......  (PS: I ran an Internet company in the 1990s and while I had strong political views even then I certainly was smart enough to keep my damn mouth and corporate wallet shut in that regard since I also knew half the nation didn't agree with me!)

Who's not getting hurt?  Mostly eBAY and ETSY -- so far.  Gee, I wonder why?

Who else gets murdered?  Anyone with a heavy reliance on overseas labor.  Hello a lot of folks -- Apple anyone, for instance?

Start looking at stocks as "who relies on either (1) cheap foreign labor, (2) getting a skim from foreign knock-off products or (3) crammed-through "regulations" without which they do not exist."

Then adjust for who's got either a sky-high P/E (which means a big fall) or worse, on or off-balance sheet debt and forward commitment cash requirements (in which case they're a potential zero.)

That's the easy one, without a single bit of policy yet being announced or enacted.

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2016-11-12 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 16913 references
[Comments enabled]  

Let me make a few observations.

First, eight years ago, and again four years ago, America elected a President.  Fully half, give or take a couple of percent, disagreed with the outcome.

There were exactly zero riots, fires, "mass protests" and similar following that outcome despite the fact that half the population vehemently disagreed with it.

This time around, not so much.

Now I want you think very carefully about the following.

Most of the land mass of this nation is owned and resided upon by people who are in "red" (that is, the winner this time) areas of the country.  With the exception of certain urban centers and right along the Mexican/Texas border there are very few "solid" blue areas.

Those urban centers consume roughly 90% of the energy and food in this country yet they comprise 5-10% of the land mass.  The "red" areas produce 95% of the food and energy this nation consumes and occupies 90-95% of the land mass.

Do you really think that doing something like eliminating the last pieces of the structure our founding fathers put in place to prevent tyranny of the majority from being able to take hold is a good idea?

A little history lesson: Prior to the 17th Amendment ratified in 1913 it was impossible for the Federal Government to shove any program down the throats of the 50 states.  That's because the state legislatures had effective control of the Senate and could recall their Senators.

The House was elected by the people, the Senate was elected by The State Legislatures (and could be recalled by same) and The President was elected by the Electors, which were voted for in the popular vote.

The latter provides a modest but real increase in the representation of "flyover" states; that is, those with lower population counts.  In other words it is a check and balance in the ultimate tyranny of democracy.

Yes, I said democracy is ultimately tyrannical -- because it is.

America is not a Democracy.  It is a Constitutional Republic.  This is very important; in a democracy 50%+1 can render the 50%-1 slaves by mere vote.  Those who are in the minority in a democracy have no rights at all.  Democracy is best represented by two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

We are all minorities in some form or fashion.  If you're gay, black, yellow, male, female, whatever -- all it takes is some other set of groups to get together and decide to oppress you, and in a democracy you're ****ed.

America's founding fathers put in place two systems to prevent this.  The first was the bicameral legislature; a House elected by the people at large and a Senate elected by the State Legislators.  This structure guaranteed that a landmass that amassed 50%+1 of the population (not even in the same state or states!) could not band together and shove down the throat of the States any policy measure because you needed the concurrence of more than half the state legislatures, where each were delegated but two votes to their Senators who were accountable to said legislature, to pass anything at all.

This evaporated with the passage of the 17th Amendment.  Now you only needed 50%+1 of the people in a given state to pass anything you wanted and they could all live in a tiny percentage of the land mass -- such as is the case with Illinois where more than half the population lives in the immediate area of Chicago.

What came right after that?  Prohibition, shoved down the throat of the States, less than 7 years later!

What also came after it was an unbridled expansion of the Federal Government into state affairs.  Indeed, virtually everything became a "legitimate" federal matter.  Why?  Because it was impossible for the States to prevent it.

Do you think the founders were wrong to do what they did, and the 17th Amendment corrected that?

If you believe so then please consider this.


Ever drive through small town America?

Hell, how about "not-so-small-town" America?

Many of these towns look like something out of a WWI or WWII European war movie.  There was one factory or maybe two, but now it sits empty, weeds growing out of the parking lot as high as your head, all the windows are broken out and the roof has caved in.  Over on the outskirts there's a Walmart that pays $9/hour, but only offers 20 hours/week.  The factory paid $30/hour, full-time, plus benefits and food, power, medicine and beer cost half of what it does now. 90% of what formerly were little diners and shops in the "center" of the town, which might have one actual traffic light, are gone -- boarded up and often literally falling apart.  There might be one bank left, a branch of a big national chain, and maybe an antique store.  Maybe.  All the factory jobs left for China and Mexico and everything else died when the middle-class incomes to support them disappeared.  We did that as a nation with our "progressive" and "global" agenda driven by the 50%+1 that live in the closest big city 200 miles away.

The locals who used to work in the fields within 10 or 20 miles from that town are all unemployed too.  Why?  Because the illegal Mexicans came and we refused to throw them out.  They work for a few bucks a day in cash, no taxes, no unemployment, no nothing.  No American can live on that; the embedded cost of just trying to stay alive would leave you with zero.  But the Mexicans work hard and then sleep 10 to a single-room apartment, which incidentally is a total ****hole as you'd expect given that density of occupation.  They don't care; it's better than what they had in Mexico, you see, and they can Western Union home some of the money.  This is the face of "immigration", mostly illegal, that really exists in this country.  They brought their third-world ****hole here and while it's a little bit better than what they had in the process of doing it they dragged us into the gutter with them.

The people who lived in that town did and most who are still there do go to church every weekend, and some go again during the week, usually on Wednesday.  There's usually one, sometimes two churches.  Every one of them has the word "God" or "Christ" in the name on the front.  They mean it when it comes to their faith and in addition that's where all the local people shake hands, exchange chit-chat on the last week and, for younger people, it's where they meet one another.  You know, girls and boys.  Yeah.  Faith is real there, you see, and it's Christian. But from your point of view that's deplorable and that "those people" don't like the idea of making a wedding cake for a gay marriage is deserving of a federal lawsuit and loss of the bakery (which is, as a result, now closed -- putting yet more people out of work.)  The people who live in these towns don't see your point of view as a civil rights matter but rather as attacking God.

What was left after the factory was displaced isn't enough to run a "service economy", which is why it never showed up there and the old business buildings are all boarded up.  Nobody can afford $8 lattes on a $9/hour wage for 20 hours a week and nobody would want them if they could.  There's probably a McDonalds on the outskirts, and a couple of self-serve gas stations with a convenience store.  It sells cheap beer and lots of it to the locals who have nothing to do but drink and then go to church and pray for forgiveness for last night's 12 pack.  None of the jobs at any of these places, except maybe the store manager, makes more than $9/hour and Obamacare has forced all the regular workers down to 20 hours a week on top of it.  Try living on $180/week gross sometime -- before FICA and Medicare is taken out, never mind gas for the car and the rapidly-escalating car insurance bill -- and you might understand.  Yes, I know the car is 15 years old and runs like crap.  What do you expect on under $1,000/month of income?

This is what 40 years of sending jobs overseas with "trade deals" did.  It's what Amazon did.  It's what Walmart and its Chinese supply line did.  It's what "progressive America" did, and then to add insult to injury the teachers in the public schools tell all the kids that Mommy and Daddy are bad people and hate both the planet and their own kids because they don't drive a $30,000 Prius or a $60,000 Tesla.

This is everywhere in rural America.  Get in your car and out of your comfort zone some time and you'll see it. It's not far from wherever you are.  I've driven through dozens of these formerly-alive places in the last six months -- every one of them dead today, but full of real people.  I never met one such person that was a racist, xenophobic *******, but they're not very happy, and the people they're unhappy with are those very same folks you wanted to keep in office in Washington DC.

If you think the destruction of small town America is confined to farms you forget the other half -- energy.  Would you like your lights to work?  Many of those small towns are dead because of the insanity of our energy policy -- or lack thereof, tied to left-wing whackjob nonsense.

Now you want to add insult to injury when they show up to vote, exactly as civics tells them we have a right to do, and a large number of you in the cities did not show up.

They bought into the message of bringing American jobs back to America and ejecting those who have no right to be here.  You call them xenophobic, racist and small-minded -- they call it a shot at decent employment for the first time in 30 years.

They believe in the Henry Ford model of American business, and they're not wrong to do so.  Make the product here, pay the people well enough to be able to afford it, and you'll do just fine.

They win the election, in short, and you lose.

Then you decide to be a sore loser and loot, burn, beat people, issue threats, cry, whine on social media and try to obstruct everything by any means possible -- legal or not.  You bus people in to "protest" and riot, you "petition", you raise hell in short -- oh, and all this after you implored the other side to "respect the outcome of the election" and lambasted them for suggesting they might want to merely count the ballots twice!

Note again, as I pointed out above, that eight years ago, and four years ago, these very same people were on the losing end of your stick exactly as they had been for the previous three decades yet they did none of the above.  They understand duplicity and your double-standard quite well, seeing as they did the honorable thing and respected the outcome twice in a row despite getting screwed sequentially both times.  The only thing your brand of government offered them in the end was Medicaid or worthless "health insurance" through the exchange; the former has no doctors that accept it within 20 miles and the latter has a $5,000 deductible before it pays anything, which is utterly laughable when you consider these folks have a gross wage of under $1,000 a month.

Now the question:  Are you prepared for the possibility they might decide en-masse that they're done with this crap -- and with you?  That they're not going to take it any more?

What if the people who live in the "red" areas, that is, those who produce the food and energy that are consumed to the 90th percentile in the "blue" areas, decide they're not going to do that for the blue areas any more?  What if their middle finger goes up, in short?

Remember, we allegedly do not permit slavery in this country any more -- which means that which someone owns they have the right to sell - or not sell.  They have the right to produce - or, more to the point, not produce.

What if the people who peacefully conceded the result of two elections over the last eight years despite vehemently opposing the outcome decide that if the "blue" folks can riot, loot, beat people who vote the "wrong way" and similar they will not accept any further election result that doesn't go their way, and instead of rioting or burning things they will simply shut off the flow of food and energy to said "blue" areas?  After all, you don't value them at all -- you consider them subhuman, racist, xenophobic, deplorable and irredeemable -- all at once.

I'll tell you what happens if they take that decision: Every major city in the country would go feral within hours.

Within days those cities would not be blue, they'd be blackened and reduced to ash as those very same "protesters" you like so much loot, burn and shoot at each other trying to get the last scraps of food and fuel remaining.  They would then probably try to come out of the cities and take by force what had been denied them, only to run into a major problem - the "red guys" have more guns, they know the land because they live there, and more importantly they actually hit what they aim at, having had plenty of practice feeding their families with deer, wild boar and similar.  Mr. Gang Banger against Mr. Deer Hunter isn't a very fair fight, when you get down to it.

Oh by the way there's a phrase for what this would mean, if you haven't figured it out by now: Civil War.

Is that what you want?

It's where your actions are headed, if you keep doing what you're doing -- and nobody knows exactly where the tipping point is.

Better think long and hard, those of you in the "blue" places who are running this crap.  You do not have a snowball's chance in Hell of being able to grow enough in the way of crops on the landmass you control to feed a tenth of your population and every squirrel in your trees would be shot dead and eaten within an hour after this began.  Silent spring indeed.  Never mind the fact that most of you "wonderful snowflakes" couldn't shoot, skin, butcher and cook a deer -- or even a squirrel -- if you had to.  Never mind that a good 80% of you couldn't manage to run one mile if you were being chased by someone interested in eating you.

The day that cellophane-wrapped chicken stops showing up in the grocery store is literally the day 90% of Blue America starves.

Nobody in their right mind wants such an outcome.  But where do you think this all goes if you keep it up, eh?

Every bit of it has been enabled by the 17th Amendment and tyranny of the majority -- a tyranny you wish to increase by doing things such as abolishing the Electoral College.

There's a very good reason our founding fathers designed a Constitutional Republic instead of a Democracy.  They understand the problem with democracy: It doesn't work.  Democracy always ends up leading to riots and civil war, because exactly what the blue folks are doing now escalates until everyone starts shooting everyone.

A Constitutional Republic avoids this outcome because even a very large majority cannot infringe the rights of everyone else -- even when the majority lives in big, concentrated places like cities.

That was the magic sauce of the original design in our legislature and Presidency.  It's why we have an Electoral College -- to provide a bit of "overweighting" to those places that are utterly crucial to the cohesiveness and survival of the nation as a functional republic -- that is, a bit more balance against tyranny of the majority of 50%+1.

We got rid of the biggest check and balance with the 17th Amendment and I have, for decades, maintained that whenever America finally is declared dead and done, and the book is closed, that will be written in as the reason our nation's political system failed.  It's the only Amendment we cannot reasonably repeal, because to do so would require the sitting Senate to vote itself out of a job.  I'm sure you can figure out how likely that is.

But we can avoid doing more violence to our Constitution -- and we had better, or the outcome, given the annals of history available to anyone who cares to look, is quite certain.  If you want to see how this turns out should you keep pressing the issue go have a look at the map of how many states Trump won .vs. Clinton, or how the county-by-county map looks.  You'll see a lot more red of various shades than you will blue.

The bottom line?  Go ahead and be a sore loser.  Go ahead and whine.  Go ahead and try to change what our representative process led to.  Go ahead and decide to loot, burn and beat.  Refuse to accept the result of the election, if you insist.  Hell, go ahead and try to threaten or even bribe the electors!  Make sure you tear down the last little bit of foundation and structure inherent in the design of the legislature and executive of the United States.  Who needs it; it's all in the name of being "progressive", right -- even if when counted by landmass, counties or states the election was a landslide for Trump.

Just don't be surprised, if you keep it up, that at some point, given that you're utterly reliant on those you're abusing for the basics of life -- the loaf of bread, the gallon of gasoline, the electricity that powers your lights -- they decide they've had enough.  That day your supply of cellophane-wrapped meat and plastic bag full of bread disappears like a fart in the wind.  There comes a time when those who you've put the boot to for so long, and then try to deny the ability to change things peacefully through the representative process our founding fathers gave us, decide that despite their religious beliefs and good manners they're not going to service you on their knees any more.

Don't be dumb enough to think you can keep doing what you've been doing forever because you can't and if you go too far there will be no warning, no second chances and no saying you're sorry.  It'll just happen starting with one final stupid act -- and then we all lose.

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2016-11-11 10:29 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 895 references
[Comments enabled]  

Have you ever seen a Presidential candidate openly support the 10th Amendment for real when it comes to an issue he or she personally is on the other side of?

Watch this one folks:

Let's put some context on this.

Donald Trump does not use any intoxicants and never has.  He does not drink, and never has.  He does not smoke weed, and never has. Unlike most of the other Presidential candidates (and Presidents) we've had in the 40ish years I've been sentient enough to have a cogent opinion of the political landscape he simply never has partaken of anything that intentionally alters his mental state for recreational purposes.

We've always chosen between candidates who consume alcohol 'socially' (cut the crap; it's recreationally and booze is a drug) and in most cases they've admitted to previous use of other drugs on a recreational basis, legal or not.  We think this is ok because most of us use some drug on a recreational basis.  I in fact used one last night; I drank a beer after running about 4 miles.  It was yummy.

When faced with a Presidential election in which one candidate uses recreational substances (or has admitted to doing so in the past) and one does not the clear choice is the one that does not.


Because being President means you have to deal with crises whenever they occur, wherever you are, and whatever state you happen to be in.  In the extreme case it may mean having to make a decision to launch nuclear weapons, the most-serious obligation that a President has, and that is a decision that, once made, you cannot change.  You never get to choose when that sort of decision will come before you; circumstances utterly beyond your control set that time for you.

never want to face the possibility, if I can avoid it, where someone may push the button in a mentally-addled state.  We can argue over whether the decision was wise or not (if we're still here to debate it) if that situation arises, but if it does I want a stone-cold sober person making the call.

Now let's talk about the rest of this.

Despite never using any recreational mind-altering chemicals himself, a trait that appears to extend to his children as well (which is quite surprising in the context of previous Presidents all the way back to at least Jimmy Carter!) Trump supports medical marijuana and will probably act, which he can do through his appointments to the FDA and DEA, to reschedule it.  This means (at least) taking it off Schedule 1 and that will immediately open up research avenues for further medical uses.  There is simply no question that in terms of balance of harms and benefits when it comes to weed it's safer than aspirin, we have more knowledge of its safety in terms of "time in use" than we do for aspirin, and and it is known effective for a material number of conditions whether we're talking about childhood epilepsy, glaucoma, as symptomatic relief for pain associated with cancer or other conditions and as a appetite stimulant to counter side effects of other conditions and medications that can be extremely debilitating (e.g. cancer patients taking chemo.)

But it gets better when it comes to President Trump.

His 10th Amendment position on recreational use is likewise well-informed and augurs not for "crushing" states that choose to legalize weed but rather for potentially removing it from the Federal Drug Schedules entirely, not just down-scheduling it, leaving it to states that wish to leave possession and use in their criminal code.  That's the "50 state political laboratory" approach and it's about damn time a President took that view toward anything -- and this is the first time, I remind you, in my memory that I've heard a President actually say that.  This means that should you live in a state that refuses to legalize weed simply move to one that sees it the other way, a right you have and will continue to enjoy under President Trump.  Your choices (as of now) for recreational marijuana use include Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, the District of Columbia (not a state but close enough), California, Massachusetts and Nevada.  All set the age at 21, as with alcohol.  All of these states at present prohibit public consumption of weed, but since the most-common means of use that is detectable by others is smoking it that's not unexpected (smoking in most public places is prohibited as well.)

Come in off the ledge, marijuana advocates.  You not only don't need to jump you are about to have a President who supports your position to a far greater degree than either Obama or Hillary, and he is taking office in January.

We'll see if President Trump's acts jive with Candidate Trump's words, but what you heard on the campaign trail was a promise to do more for personal liberty and the use of cannabis, whether medically or otherwise, than any previous President in the modern era.

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2016-11-11 09:32 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 211 references
[Comments enabled]  

It's simple: Thank you for your service.

For those "protesting" (really, for the most part, rioting) -- you have a right to free speech.

You do not have a right to be free from the consequences of that speech.

Just ask the CEO of GrubHub, who is running away from his own comments -- as his firm's stock tanks.

You might want to consider that some day you may need this thing called a "job" in order to manage to have food to eat, an upgrade from a refrigerator box under a freeway overpass for sleeping, and an upgrade from bare feet to get around with.

If you're one of those professional protesters being paid by George Soros' "organizations" I assure you he doesn't give a damn about you and while he does pay people to "protest" what are you going to do the rest of the time, or when his little charade gets broken up for racketeering, which just might happen in another month or two....

That's something to think about -- provided you're capable of thinking, of course.

PS: For some of us, myself included, associating with any of this crap means we have no intent to associate with you on a forward basis again -- ever. I meant it before and I'm not changing my mind.  I will note for the record that Obama won two terms and yet there were zero examples of rioting or people being beaten for "voting wrong".

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2016-11-11 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 328 references
[Comments enabled]  

Several states passed marijuana-related measures Tuesday night, Florida among them.

For those who live in a place where recreational marijuana passed, congratulations.  You now have weed on the same level legally, approximately, as alcohol -- so long as you never leave your state with any of it.

But for those (such as Florida) that passed medical marijuana, please be careful.

It's a fact that many people go get an "excuse prescription" for medical weed.  An "excuse prescription" is one for which the justification medically is tenuous at best, and might be complete nonsense.  I'm not talking about the kid with epileptic seizures that nothing else helps, or the cancer patient who has zero appetite and horrible pain, both of which are materially improved by using a vaporizer or consuming a weed-laced brownie.

I'm talking about people who get a script for "anxiety", "sleeplessness" or something similar.  There are a lot of people in this camp; I've met them and many openly admit that their "script" is simply a great way to legally get stoned.

This is important because under federal law weed remains illegal.  While you'd think if you remain within state lines this doesn't impact you that's not necessarily true.  One place where it is particularly not true is if you desire to exercise your 2nd Amendment right to own firearms.

See, on the 4473 (what used to be known as the "yellow form") you fill out to buy a gun you are asked specifically if you are "an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance?"

And yes, it specifically names marijuana.

A "Yes" answer is disqualifying for the purchase and the standard for "unlawful" when it comes to drugs is FEDERAL, not state law.

If you think the states will not share with Federal Government all medical marijuana card issue information you're wrong.  They can and will; nothing prohibits them from doing so.  This is exactly the same issue as the fact that a Concealed Weapons Permit from one state will appear on the mobile data terminal of any cop car, anywhere in the country, if your license plate or driver license is run.

Lying on the 4473 is a federal crime, and for this reason if you get caught it may not just lead to a denied purchase -- it may lead to federal charges and jail time.

I am not trying to throw cold water on the wins for the choice to both medicate and recreate in this regard during the election.  They're real, and for people who have intractable conditions, especially terminal and chronic condition patients for which nothing else works well or even at all these measures are decades overdue.  Likewise, for those who are now in a recreational state and are purchasing with cash there is far less concern for worry since there is no central state registry requirement before you can buy.

But for those who are inclined to "game the system" in medical states, and there are a lot of people who are and do, be careful that you don't run afoul of competing legal environments and find yourself on the wrong end of the law.

Federal gun charges are nothing to trifle with (unless you're Eric Holder and arming Mexican drug gangs, of course, in which case you should carry on unabated.)

In addition let me comment on Dr. Manny's propaganda piece from the 9th.

He (correctly) notes that we have an opiod addiction epidemic raging in the United States and that it is and has been destroying people's lives. But we also have data from states that have medical (and now recreational) marijuana, and the data says that it tends to reduce opiod use when measured against states that have not re-introduced legal cannabis.

If Dr. Manny thinks that marijuana is a "new" substance in America he has his head firmly planted up his ass. Cannabis was legal (and used) right up until the Hearst empire decided to kill it because it was threatening to destroy their vertical integration in the newspaper industry -- specifically, it makes better paper than wood does. Their lies both in their papers and elsewhere (e.g. that Mexicans who smoke it will irresistibly desire to rape white women) are largely responsible for it being illegal today.  Further, weed is available virtually everywhere in America, and it's an outrage that we treat those using it -- especially those using it as a medical treatment, whether prescribed or not -- as criminals.

Opiod overdoses are largely (but not exclusively) due to lack of purity and labeling in the black market, which legalization and regulation would resolve for all drugs, not just marijuana.  Demanding that anyone who sells a thing truthfully label the contents is part and parcel of any sort of free, open and honest market.  Driving that out of the marketplace by making the transaction illegal in the first instance is a large part of why people die from opiod overdose and is responsible for virtually all crime associated with drug use.  We cannot stop all overdoses and drug-related crime by correcting that mistake, but we can stop a lot of it.

Prince would be alive today if his drugs had been bought at a pharmacy and thus were labeled accurately as to their content and purity.  He'd still be an addict, but he'd be alive.

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