Hot topic: Colorado lawmakers look at stricter medical marijuana rules

Colorado’s most controversial marijuana-related bill of the year is up for its first test in the Senate on Thursday. A measure to crack down on medical pot users faces a hearing.

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Student Loan Default Rates Are Counterintuitive

Intuition would suggest that the more you borrow, the harder it is to pay the loans, and the more likely you are to default.  But, it turns out that in the case of student loans, that this intuition is wrong.  The more you owe on your student loans when you graduate, the less likely you are to default on those loans.

An explanation is considered in the linked post at Marginal Revolution.  The gist is that lower student loan amounts are incurred by students who are academically less able and who tend to drop out before receiving the credentials that they spent money trying to earn.  But, other specific situations that contribute to the situation, like unemployable recently released felons who enroll in community college to comply with parole requirements because they kind find jobs are also interesting.

The bottom line policy conclusion that this and other data leads me to is that indiscriminate higher education subsidies coupled with open or not very selective admissions policies waste a great deal of scarce higher education resources.  Sending people who aren’t academically ready to do college level work only to have them drop out, often in relatively short order, may create jobs for underpaid adjunct professors teaching introductory and remedial classes, but does little to built human capital in these students.

There are distributive justice issues with a purely merit basis for funding higher education as well, however.  It turns out that highly academically able students, particularly those at selective institutions of higher education (public and private alike) tend to be very affluent, often coming from families in the top 5-10% of household income.  Taxing less affluent people in order to send the subsidize the college educations of children of affluent people who can afford to forego state higher education subsidies, may have “trickle down” benefits to society, but isn’t obviously good policy either.  The fact that many resident graduates of state subsidized public colleges leave their home states when they graduate dilutes these benefits further.

Now, this isn’t to say that I am against public funding for higher education.  Indeed, few opportunities for dramatic economic benefits from public spending are more clear.  Low income students with strong academic ability are less likely to attend and to finish college than high income students with weak academic ability, and this is almost entirely due to insufficient grant based financial aid for these students.

Therefore, rather than subsidizing the higher education expenses of all state residents indiscriminately, we should instead subsidize higher education (as opposed to university based research not intended to have direct educational benefit to college students), almost entirely with scholarships that require both merit and financial need.  Ideally, every student with academic merit should receive a scholarship equal to their full financial need determined in an accurate way.

In practice, there is uncertainty and inaccuracy in both academic merit determinations, and in financial need determinations.

On the academic need side, the answer is probably to provide full scholarships to those with clear academic merit, partial scholarships to those whose academic ability is probably sufficient to benefit but marginal, and to deny scholarships to those who lack academic merit.  Perhaps students with at least a two-thirds probability of graduating given their grades and test scores, who have no remedial course requirements would get full scholarships, students with a 50% to two-thirds chance of graduating and no more than one remedial course to take would get a two-third grant, one-third loan package, students with a one-third to 50% change of graduating or more than one remedial course to take would get a one-third grant, two-thirds loan package, and everyone else would qualify for aid only for sub-collegiate level continuing education rather than college degree programs.

On the financial need side, the answer is probably to err on the side of being generous, recognizing that the harm of underfunding a student who is therefore forced to drop out or not attend college in the first place is greater than the harm associated with rewarding academically able low to moderate income kids by providing them scholarships that are a bit more generous than they strictly need to get by.  Creating incentives can be just as worthwhile as meeting true economic needs.

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High Noon: Frack task force fail, immigrant drivers licenses cont’d, net neutrality

Susan Greene: Good morning High Nooners. Greetings from Colo Indy HQ. Thank you Dan Haley and Jon Caldara for joining us this lunch hour. Are you locked and loaded?

Hick’s oil and gas task force (wouldn’t you love to be on a task force some day? it’s so much better than a committee, even a blue ribbon committee) has come out with its recommendations. What do you make of them? Will they go anywhere or nowhere?

Dan Haley: Loaded. It’s noon after all.

Jon Caldara: Are we finished yet. I want to go to lunch.

Mike Caldara: The governor thought they were great. The oil companies thought they were great. The fractivists are locked and loaded. The first initiative is already out. House Speaker Dickie Lee Hullinghurst has said we’ll probably have to go the initiative route. So, let’s get ready to rumble.

Caldara: “Task farce” was a brilliant move by Hick to get the anti-fracking initiatives off the ballot during his election. It will do little of anything meaningful, particularly in the local control issue. Get ready for more ballot issues.

Haley: There was much speculation that the task force wouldn’t be able to agree on anything, and instead they pushed forward nine recommendations. One of them, which would give local governments more control over where large operations are sited, is very substantive and likely would head off a lot of conflict. Did locals get approval to ban oil and gas? No. That was never a serious discussion.

 

================= *** *** =================

litwin hnMike Littwin has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. A rapier wit.

 

dan haley Dan Haley is vice president of communications at EIS Solutions, a Colorado public relations firm and was Editorial Page Editor at the Denver Post, after being an editorial writer, assistant city editor and news reporter.

 

jon caldara Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, Colorado’s free-market think tank in Denver. He is a radio and TV host and one of the state’s favorite provocateurs.

 

sgreeneSusan Greene is moderator today. She is a longtime Colorado journalist, a former Denver Post columnist and the editor of the Colorado Independent.

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Two Congressmen threaten DC mayor with prison over marijuana laws

Two leading House Republicans are warning Washington’s mayor not to move forward with marijuana legalization and have launched an investigation into whether the city has already violated federal law by preparing to implement a voter-approved initiative.

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Historic new ganja laws in Jamaica for Rastafari religious use, MMJ program

Jamaica’s Parliament on Tuesday night gave final approval to an act decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and establishing a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry.

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Giuliana Rancic apologizes for ‘weed’ jab at Zendaya’s red-carpet dreadlocks

Giuliana Rancic is apologizing to Zendaya and others offended by Rancic’s “Fashion Police” jab at the actress-singer’s Oscar-night dreadlocks.

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Wiretap: ‘Are you kidding me?’ government-shutdown redux

This is how it figured to play out. Mitch McConnell caves in the Senate, offering up a so-called clean bill on Homeland Security and steering clear of any responsibility for a shutdown showdown. That puts Obama in the clear. And Democrats in the clear. And Senate Republicans in the clear. So, guess who’s left holding the shutdown bag? Via the National Journal.

John Boehner has taken the nation on this ride before. It ends like this:

Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill to ban “pray away the gay therapy” — the attempt by mostly religious organizations to steer gay and queer people straight through counseling. The “therapy” is anti-scientific and has caused great suffering to the mostly young people subjected to it. But this is Colorado, where evangelical empires thrive and where the science of immunization is pooh-poohed on the right and the left. The ban will pass in the Democratic-controlled House. It likely won’t pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.

John Cassidy writes in the New Yorker that Scott Walker’s so-called gaffes aren’t gaffes at all, but rather part of a grand strategy to win the Republican nomination for president.

Democrats died last year in the midterm elections. Now the autopsy is out. Guess what: Democrats say the patient is just fine, leading the Atlantic to ask: Are Democrats in denial?

Virtually everyone agrees we need to do something about our crumbling infrastructure. So, why won’t anything be done about it? Via Al Hunt at Bloomberg View.

Not yet officially running, Hillary Clinton goes to Silicon Valley to present the outline of her unofficial 2016 agenda. Via the New York Times.

What’s Elizabeth Warren’s next fight? You’d know if you turned on CSPAN to watch her grill Janet Yellen. Via Vox.

Barack Obama’s Keystone veto was so expected that it’s almost a non-story. But the real story is that there will be many, many more vetoes to come. Via Politico.

Paul Farhi writes in the Washington Post that Bill O’Reilly has decided that the best defense — against the accusations that he embellished some wartime stories of his own — is a good offense. Which is how O’Reilly comes to suggest that one of his critics be put in “the kill zone.”

Amid falling gold prices, South African mining company AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. says it might sell off all or part of the Cripple Creek gold mine west of Colorado Springs, which is in the midst of a $585 million expansion. Nobody knows for sure whether Cripple Creek will have to close up shop, so for now they’ll keep on drilling. Via the Gazette.

The 10 angriest reactions to things actors said at the Oscars. (Interestingly, most of the critics were liberals.) Via New York magazine.

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The Week in Weed: Rihanna’s birthday portrait & 14 more cannabis pics

A compilation of favorite weed photos seen on Instagram. This week, pop’s Rihanna has a star turn on her birthday, plus marijuana concentrates, hash and more.

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Organizer of 4/20 rally rejects Denver’s request for detailed plans

Denver has denied one of two permit requests for pro-marijuana 4/20 rallies in Civic Center on April 20, but the remaining applicant is declining officials’ request to submit detailed plans.

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