Marketplace - American Public Media

Oil prices scrape bottom of the barrel

Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

Crude oil prices fell to 5½ -year lows on Thursday. The price of Brent Crude closed at $59.27 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate Crude closed at $54.11 a barrel.

A barrel of crude oil is a “convenient measure,” says Eric Smith, associate director of Tulane University’s Energy Institute. “It’s 42 gallons because that’s what John D. Rockefeller put it in – old beer barrels, back in the 1890s.” Today, oil moves in pipelines, tanker ships, barges and railcars to get from the oil fields – whether in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria or North Dakota – to the refineries.

Transportation only constitutes a small fraction of the barrel’s cost, according to economist Rayola Dougher of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry trade group. Most of the cost of oil can be attributed to exploration, drilling and pumping.

“Finding the oil is a very involved process,” says Dougher. “Onshore it can take $19 to $20 a barrel, but it could be twice to three times as much offshore.”

In the Bakken shale oil fields in North Dakota, which are pumping out a lot of high-quality light sweet crude (a similar grade to the benchmark West Texas Intermediate), producers can still make a small profit with crude in the $55-a-barrel range, after subtracting the costs of exploration, production and transportation, Smith says.

“You’d probably go down to $30 before somebody shuts in a well. They might not drill a new one. But they wouldn’t stop producing the old one until the price got below that cost.”

Quiz: The art of the academic turnaround

Thu, 2014-12-18 07:18

Low-performing schools reported how they are trying to improve in an Education Department survey of administrators whose schools are eligible for School Improvement Grants funds.

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PODCAST: The Sony cancellation

Thu, 2014-12-18 03:00

The day after the guardians of interest rates at the Federal Reserve issued a statement that would get demerits for vagueness from any freshman English professor. And we could see more information from the U.S. government as early as today about who hacked the computers of Sony Pictures, leading to the mass release of internal company emaisl and, now, the cancellation of the release of the movie at the center of this. That movie, titlted The Interview, is a comedy about a plot against the North Korean leader. In the last 24 hours, a unnamed U.S. official has been suggesting the hack may have started in North Korea. Plus, when you think of negotiating for higher pay, the people who work hard picking apples and cherries aren't the first folks who come to mind with the clout to drive up compensation. Individual farmworkers don't control much about their work environment. But in Washington's Yakima Valley, growers and workers alike say the growing use of cell phones has shaken up the labor market.

Leading indicators released for the month

Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

The Conference Board will release its monthly index of leading indicators Thursday: a collection of data from different pieces of the economy, including building permits, stock prices, consumer expectations, among others, all rolled into one tidy snapshot.

Chances are, the U.S. will look pretty as a picture, especially compared to other countries, says Bernie Baumohl, with the Economic Outlook Group. Europe and Japan are sluggish; China’s growth is slowing; and Russia’s in the midst of a currency crisis.

But so far, the U.S. is shrugging off the rest of the world’s economic woes, says Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities. 

Click the media player to hear more.

Cellphones bring new leverage for farm workers

Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

When you think of “salary negotiations,” picking fruit isn’t the first job that comes to mind. Individual farmworkers don’t control much about their work environments, but Eduardo Cruz says there’s a big range in what you can get paid to pick apples. “This year, I picked Honeycrisp for $42 a bin,” he says. “At other farms, they paid $35 a bin, or 30.”

These differences in pay depend on a host of variables that determine how easy it is to fill a 1,000 pound bin of fruit: the size of the trees, the slope of the orchard, the quality standards imposed by the grower. In Washington’s Yakima Valley, growers and workers alike say cellphones have helped spread this information faster, tightening the labor market and spurring on competition for the best "piscadores," or harvesters. 

Farmworkers have always gotten together to trade tips. Still, they often had to drive to far-flung orchards to find out who was hiring and what they were paying. Nowadays, most of these conversations take place via cellphone. “I’ve got a lot of friends, and we talk,” Cruz explains with a smile.

You ask a few questions about the job, get the foreman’s number, and if it seems promising, make the trip out to the orchard. Cellphones have reduced the “transaction costs” of looking for farmwork.

Grower Charlie de la Chapelle says that’s made the workforce more willing to move around: “And that’s a good thing, because if in fact we are short of people, and we have a good price, they call their buddies and they bring ‘em.” The flip side is that “you don’t know who’s gonna show up tomorrow.”

On Chapelle’s farm, workers picking Fujis have to sort the apples as they go, and the ground is littered with discarded fruit. This extra work means they can’t fill bins as fast, which can hurt their pay.

Orchard manager Art Thompson says he’s worried his crew might start looking elsewhere. “We’ve got a pretty steady crew,” he says, “but believe me, if I let ‘em make this wage all day, the cellphones will start being picked up.” This means employers have to be ready to adjust wages.

It’s basic economics: free-flowing information leads to a freer market. Researchers have made similar observations about cellphones across the developing world. Agricultural economist Philip Martin recalls one study of fishermen in southern India.”If you’re out in your little boat, and you’ve got a bunch of fish, you have more power to know which port to take them to, by calling the various fish brokers, and saying, ‘what are you paying?’”

 For low wage workers without much clout, cellphones have brought a bit of leverage. 

Nike earnings: Wall Street and Sneakerheads weigh in

Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

Nike Inc. looks great to John Kernan, an analyst at Cowen and Company. "The brand is on fire," he says, as the company prepares to release quarterly earnings.

Things look less rosy to David Rasool Robinson, a manager at Saint Alfred, Chicago's top sneaker boutique.  He says his customers see quality-control problems creeping into some of the company's offerings. 

So, Sneakerheads: outliers, or leading edge indicators?

Click the media player above for more.

Cell phones bring new leverage for farm workers

Thu, 2014-12-18 02:00

When you think of “salary negotiations,” picking fruit isn’t the first job that comes to mind. Individual farmworkers don’t control much about their work environments, but Eduardo Cruz says there’s a big range in what you can get paid to pick apples. “This year, I picked Honeycrisp for $42 a bin,” he says. “At other farms, they paid $35 a bin, or thirty.”

These differences in pay depend on a host of variables that determine how easy it is to fill a 1,000 pound bin of fruit: the size of the trees, the slope of the orchard, the quality standards imposed by the grower. In Washington’s Yakima valley, growers and workers alike say cell phones have helped to spread this information faster than ever, tightening the labor market and spurring on competition for the best piscadores. 

Farmworkers have always gotten together to trade tips. Still, they often had to drive out to far-flung orchards to find out who was hiring and what they were paying. Nowadays, most of these conversations take place via cell phone. “I’ve got a lot of friends, and we talk,” Cruz explains with a smile.

You ask a few questions about the job, get the foreman’s number, and if it seems promising, make the trip out to the orchard. Cell phones have reduced the “transaction costs” of looking for farmwork.

Grower Charlie de la Chapelle says that’s made the workforce more willing to move around: “And that’s a good thing, because if in fact we are short of people and we have a good price, they call their buddies and they bring ‘em.” The flip side is that “you don’t know who’s gonna show up tomorrow.”

On Chapelle’s farm, workers picking Fujis have to sort the fruit as they go, and the ground is littered with discarded apples. This extra work means they can’t fill bins as fast, which can hurt their pay.

Orchard manager Art Thompson says he’s worried his crew might start looking elsewhere. “We’ve got a pretty steady crew,” he says, “but believe me, if I let ‘em make this wage all day, the cell phones will start being picked up.” This means employers have to be ready to adjust wages.

It’s basic economics: free-flowing information leads to a freer market. Researchers have made similar observations about cell phones across the developing world. Agricultural economist Philip Martin recalls one study of fishermen in southern India.”If you’re out in your little boat, and you’ve got a bunch of fish, you have more power to know which port to take them to, by calling the various fish brokers, and saying, ‘what are you paying?’”

 For low wage workers without much clout, cell phones have brought a bit of leverage. 

Your move, Netflix

Thu, 2014-12-18 01:30
$90 million

That's how much Sony Pictures Entertainment will lose from the production and marketing of its now-cancelled film "The Interview," the Wrap reports. That doesn't include lost box office or home video revenue, or the long-term costs of the cyberattack that pushed Sony to cancel the movie in the first place. Meanwhile, one Texas theater is showing the 2004's "Team America: World Police," another comedy about fighting North Korea, in place of "The Interview." Quartz also makes a convincing case for releasing the movie on Netflix.

$4,000

There's lot of questions about how relations with Cuba will change with yesterday's announcement from President Barack Obama; from travel regulations, to how many Cuban cigars Americans can purchase. But over at Gizmodo, they're wondering if Cuba will now cash in the $4,000 rent checks sent every year by the U.S. government to pay for the use of Guantanamo Bay. Up until now, the country has refused to accept the payments.

$.89/minute

That's the most common cost of a phone call to or from prison in 2013, along with a $3.95 fee. Using that figure, Bloomberg estimates the calls reporter Sarah Koenig recorded for "Serial" — which wraps its first season Thursday — cost the podcast more than $2,500.

1 hour

That's the amount of time in which Amazon's Prime Now says it can deliver orders in Manhattan, as reported by the WSJ. Announced Thursday, Amazon says as many as 25,000 items are available through the service. We'll go ahead and wait until they launch a predictive delivery service called Prime Yesterday.

1 news site

The number of news sites tested by ProPublica that weren't censored in China Wednesday. The organization has been testing the sites behind China's firewall every day for several weeks, and another site has been at it all year. The results are collected in this interactive graphic.

Sony cancels 'The Interview'

Wed, 2014-12-17 12:51

Sony Pictures Entertainment scrapped its Christmas release of the "The Interview" Wednesday. The move comes after several major theater chains decided not to run the film in response to threats hackers who launched a major attack on the studio over the past month.

Just as Sony officially announced it wouldn't release "The Interview," several news organizations reported that North Korea was behind the hack, citing unnamed sources close to the U.S. investigation.

In a statement Tuesday coupled with another mass of leaked emails, the hackers referenced Sept. 11 and warned people to stay away from theaters showing "The Interview," which North Korea has previously condemned.

The comedy is about a TV host and producer recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Sony has been battered for weeks by continuous leaked emails, internal documents, financials, social security numbers and more.

The Seth Rogen and James Franco film, with a modest $45 million budget, is relatively small fare for Sony.

"It's not your typical 'X-Men'  type of blockbuster where there are endless commercial tie-ins," says Jennifer Holt, a professor of film and media studies at the University of California.

Holt says Sony will take a hit, but it was far riskier for the entire movie business if it was screened during Christmas.

"The Christmas season is a huge time for the movie business, and it's a time where they bring out all of their marquee films, so this is a very big revenue period," says Holt.

Eric Wold, analyst with B. Riley & Co., estimates movies will bring in about $2.5 billion in revenue during the last quarter of the year. "The Interview" potentially represented just 2 percent of that, Wold says, while representing an outsize threat to theater chains' bottom line.

"If moviegoers themselves are concerned that something could happen, even if they are not planning to see that movie, they may skip going to the theater altogether to see 'The Hobbit' or some other movie coming out," says Wold.

Theaters can easily replace Sony's film with one of the big Christmas movies being released next week, and likely avoid a financial hit, says Wold. For that reason, he says, it makes sense for exhibitors to pull out of screening "The Interview."

But Jason Squire, a film professor at USC and editor of "The Movie Business Book," says the implications go far beyond this one film.

"This is really going to have a negative impact on what is an artistic business venture," Squire says.

Because of the Sony hack, movie studios are likely to become more cautious about the content of their films in the future, he says.

Russian journalists try to thwart Kremlin censorship

Wed, 2014-12-17 11:00

As the ruble crashed and the Russian Central Bank hiked interest rates to record highs, the lead story for most TV stations in Moscow was not the country’s dire financial crisis. It was this: “President Vladimir Putin has won the annual Man of the Year award for the 15th year running.”

 

Russia – under Putin – is not exactly a haven of press freedom. Indeed, one group of disgruntled journalists is so disgusted by the level of censorship at home, they just left Russia, settled in the Baltic state of Latvia and launched their own independent online service with the aim of providing Russians with objective news. Their departure was triggered by the firing of a well-known, independent editor.

 

Galina Timchenko was editor-in-chief of the Russian online news service Lenta until earlier this year, when she carried some stories that were critical of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Timchenko was fired and replaced by a PR man who is very close to the Kremlin. Speaking from her self-imposed exile in the Latvian capital of Riga, she says the oligarch owner of Lenta was leaned on by the Russian government.

 

“It’s a very usual situation to put pressure on the owner of media,” she says.

 

That is an understatement. Russia is gaining a grisly international reputation for press censorship. It’s been ranked 148th out of 173 nations for press freedom, with Russian journalists, media workers and news providers receiving threats and sometimes even physical abuse if they publish anything negative about the Kremlin and its close allies in the business world.

 

Some in the media are fighting back. After Timchenko was fired, all 70 journalists on her staff quit in protest and 20 of them followed her to Latvia. In a converted warehouse in Riga, they’re producing stories for a new independent Russian language news service called Meduza. The service's content is published not only on a website but also on an app, to prevent the Kremlin from barring it.

 

“It’s more difficult to block, and as far as I know there’s no example of blocking apps in Russia still," Timchenko says.

 

The site is in its infancy, attracting around 81,000 visitors a day, compared with Lenta’s 3 million. Meduza expects to make its money from subscriptions, ads and app sales. For an organization committed to openness and transparency it is making an unusual move, refusing to reveal the cost of setting up in Latvia or the source of the money – and that’s ringing alarm bells.

 

“I find this problematic, the fact that this project would not actually reveal where the funding is coming from,” says Vladimir Strukov. He is an independent Russian commentator and professor of Russian cultural studies and world cinemas at the University of Leeds in England. 

 

“This lack of transparency gives a sense that there’s something happening there and it breeds conspiracy theories among bloggers and other media users in Russia," he says.

 

But Timchenko counters that by not revealing the names of her financial backers, she is protecting them from harassment by the Kremlin.

 

“I want to decrease their political risk,” she says.

 

Timchenko has given Meduza three years to break even but agrees she has her work cut out. In spite of Russia’s growing economic problems, Putin remains wildly popular. His message appears to be more appealing to the Russian public than what the independent media has to say.

New York is first state to ban fracking

Wed, 2014-12-17 11:00

The fracking wars continue, this time in the Big Apple. The controversial drilling practice has been banned in local town and cities, but today New York became the first state to enact a ban.

Kai talks to Scott Tong, who has been covering fracking and the oil industry for Marketplace.

Why law school enrollment is way down

Wed, 2014-12-17 11:00

Law schools enrolled about 120,000 students in 2014, a decrease of almost 7 percent from last year. It was the smallest number admitted since 1987.

While law school was once seen as a golden ticket to a financially stable future, the profession is becoming less popular. New technology is helping lawyers work more efficiently, allowing them to handle a bigger workload. But it also cuts down on a firm's need to hire more lawyers, which means fewer graduates nab full-time permanent jobs.

As recently as 2000, "almost every school was reporting employment outcomes with 90 percent or more of their graduates employed," says Jerry Organ, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota.

Back then, schools didn't have to report what kinds of jobs their alumni were getting, but now they do, he says. Numbers over the last few years have reflected this reporting change, with only about half of  students getting full-time, long-term jobs as lawyers.

Now that’s an unexpected energy boost. (Thanks, Cuba)

Wed, 2014-12-17 11:00

Cuba and the United States are taking steps to normalize their long-troubled relationship in both politics and economics.

In response, tons of investors bought stock in the Cuba Beverage Company. Shares were up nearly 140 percent at one point, according to the Wall Street Journal. The thing is, the Cuba Beverage Company is an energy drink firm out of San Diego. No relation to Cuba, the country, at all.

It's not a big energy drink company. The shares only rose to 4 cents apiece. Caveat emptor, nonetheless.

Secrets of the Christmas tree lot

Wed, 2014-12-17 07:44

Americans bought 33 million Christmas trees last year by one count, making it a billion-dollar industry in this country alone. Perhaps nowhere are Christmas tree sales more visible than on the streets of New York City. 

Supriya and Vijay Laknidhi walk through a narrow evergreen forest on a sidewalk in Brooklyn Heights. They stop in front of a 7-foot Fraser fir.

“It’s pretty full, you know so even if you don’t have that many ornaments on there it still looks like a really healthy tree,” Supriya says.  Vijay adds, “we just had our first kid, so it’s a tree with an occasion now.

The Laknidhis are purchasing their family’s tree from another family tree. Ellie Bishop’s family started selling trees in 1988 when she was little more than a year old.  Now, she has her baby at the stand, alongside her mother and brother. These three generations of tree sellers manage a stable in Vermont the rest of the year. But that’s not necessarily where the trees come from.

“Well it kinda works like this: A bunch of tree sellers all throughout the city get together. We buy from big tree farms in different parts of the country,” Bishop says. “These ones come from North Carolina, sometimes [they come] all the way from Oregon. It just depends where they’re ordered from, where we get the best deal.”

Bishop’s supplier buys evergreens from wherever the trees grow the fastest. The vendors come from wherever work during the winter is slow.

“Selling trees really helps people get through January, February till they can get back to work in March,” Bishop says. 

Last year Ellie’s family sold about 300 trees, mostly priced between $55 and $140. It’s not easy work staying out on the street, in freezing temperatures, all day for most of December.  Still, it’s enough to lure seasonal workers like Melany Westerloppe, who's from Quebec.  She runs a stand in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.  High end trees here go for $400 – last year she sold to Robert De Niro. It’s the adventure as well as the money that lures hundreds of French-Canadians like her to the city. 

Westerloppe estimates,  “our company it’s about 300 stands in all the city because we are two or three people by stand.”  

The company, Forever Evergreen, is incorporated in Florida. It supplies to every stand I came across and owns hundreds of its own. The company is secretive, running a cash business that’s largely unregulated – and staffed by a migrant work force.

Simon Durind also sells trees in Manhattan. I asked him why a Florida-based company, buying trees from North Carolina, wants French Canadians to sell Christmas trees in New York City?

“They like Quebecois with an accent on the streets selling trees, looking like a North Viking. That’s what they like and it works,” exclaims Durind, a carpenter in Quebec who says he doesn’t mind living out of a van for a month. He estimates he makes $17 an hour for the season.  But there are other perks for these French-speaking, pine-scented gentlemen.

"The women of New  York are very beautiful," Durind says. "You know you don’t often see people like us, cutting trees with a saw and sometimes it looks like it impresses some people.” 

Mistletoe sold separately.

Christmas tree sales lure migrant workers to New York

Wed, 2014-12-17 07:44

Americans bought 33 million Christmas trees last year by one count, making it a billion-dollar industry in this country alone.  Perhaps nowhere are Christmas tree sales more visible than on the streets of New York City. 

Supriya and Vijay Laknidhi walk through a narrow evergreen forest on a sidewalk in Brooklyn Heights. They stop in front of a 7-foot Fraser Fir.

“It’s pretty full, you know so even if you don’t have that many ornaments on there it still looks like a really healthy tree,” Supriya says.  Vijay adds, “we just had our first kid so it’s a tree with an occasion now.

The Laknidhis are purchasing their family’s tree from another family tree.  Ellie Bishop’s family started selling trees in 1988 when she was little more than a year old.  Now, she has her baby at the stand, alongside her mother and brother.  These three generations of tree sellers manage a stable in Vermont the rest of the year. But that’s not necessarily where the trees come from.

“Well it kinda works like this: A bunch of tree sellers all throughout the city get together. We buy from big tree farms in different parts of the country,” Bishop says. “These ones come from North Carolina, sometimes [they come] all the way from Oregon. It just depends where they’re ordered from, where we get the best deal.”

Ellie’s supplier buys evergreens from wherever the trees grow the fastest.  The vendors come from wherever work during the winter is slow.

“Selling trees really helps people get through January, February till they can get back to work in March,” says Bishop. 

Last year Ellie’s family sold about 300 trees, mostly priced between $55 and $140.   It’s not easy work staying out on the street, in freezing temperatures, all day for most of December.  Still, it’s enough to lure seasonal workers like Melany Westerloppe, who's from Quebec.  She runs a stand in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.  High end trees here go for $400-- last year she sold to Robert De Niro. It’s the adventure as well as the money that lures hundreds of French-Canadians like her to the city. 

Westerloppe estimates,  “our company it’s about 300 stands in all the city because we are 2 or 3 people by stand.”  

The company, called Forever Evergreen, is incorporated in Florida.  It supplies to all of the stands I came across and owns hundreds of its own.  The company is pretty secretive. It runs a cash business that’s largely unregulated, and staffed by a migrant work force.

Simon Durind also sells trees in Manhattan.  I asked him why a Florida-based Company, buying trees from North Carolina, wants French Canadians to sell Christmas trees in New York City?

“They like Quebecois with an accent on the streets selling trees, looking like a North Viking. That’s what they like and it works,” exclaims Durin.

Durind, who’s a carpenter in Quebec, doesn’t mind living out of a van for a month. He estimates he makes $17 an hour for the season.  But there are other perks for these French-speaking, pine-scented gentlemen.

"The women of New  York are very beautiful," Durind says. "You know you don’t often see people like us, cutting trees with a saw and sometimes it looks like it impresses some people.” 

Mistletoe sold separately.

Quiz: Who hits the books hardest?

Wed, 2014-12-17 04:58

American students on average spend six hours per week doing homework, according to an OECD study of homework by country and economic status among 15 year olds.

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PODCAST: Hacker threats reach beyond Sony

Wed, 2014-12-17 03:00

Russia's economy remains in crisis, with wild swings in the price of the ruble and high interest rates. Russian central bank intervention seems to have pumped some juice back into their currency this morning, with ruble up 5.7 percent to the dollar. More on that. Plus, there's word that a movie theater in New York City has decided to cancel screenings of the Seth Rogan-James Franco comedy about an assassination plot against North Korea's leader. A group calling itself Guardians of Peace said in a message posted online that it will target theaters showing the movie. The group mentioned the attacks of September 11th, and SONY said it would leave it up to theater owners whether to show the movie or pull it. Also on today's show, recreational marijuana stores now allow anyone over the age of 21 to go in and legally buy a drug that is still illegal under federal law. States like Colorado and Washington have more than a hundred stores already. Oregon and Alaska are next, and a dozen other states could legalize soon.

Hollywood pins its hopes on "The Hobbit"

Wed, 2014-12-17 02:00

The latest offering in the Lord of the Rings franchise, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” opens Wednesday.

Hollywood hopes it will be a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster December that has seen receipts decline 40 percent from the same month last year.

But are dipping ticket sales a sign of a flailing industry, or is it just hard to measure up to record numbers in 2013?

Click the media player above for more.

How the falling ruble will affect emerging markets

Wed, 2014-12-17 02:00

As goes the Russian Ruble, so go economies around the globe? 

Russia’s currency crisis has got investors spooked, and that may not be good for emerging markets in Turkey, Brazil or India. 

Click the media player above to hear more.

A buzzworthy shopping trip . . . for legal weed

Wed, 2014-12-17 02:00

Retailers are always trying to offer new shopping experiences to the American consumer.

One novel retail experience (that skirts the edge of legality under federal law) is about to become available to millions of consumers around the country, in addition to those in Colorado and Washington State. It is the recreational-marijuana store.

The sale of cannabis to adults 21-and-over with valid ID is now legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska by voter initiative. Colorado and Washington rolled out state-licensed stores in 2014 (after voting to legalize in 2012). Oregon and Alaska will develop their new commercial marijuana markets in the coming year after legalizing recreational pot in November 2014. 

Marijuana-legalization advocates, meanwhile, predict that as many as 11 more states could pass similar initiatives by 2017: California, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Hawaii. Medical marijuana is already legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and is available to people  as young as 18 years old, with a medical prescription. Marijuana is still classified as a controlled substance and its production, distribution, sale and possession remains illegal under federal law.

Marketplace reporter Mitchell Hartman recently visited Live Green Cannabis, a recreational marijuana store in suburban Denver. Manager Brian Zordan showed off the security—extensive video cameras and old-fashioned safes for storing cash and inventory. He also displayed  the three main types of consumable marijuana for sale: leaves and buds, edibles, and concentrates.

Marijuana leaf-and-bud is sold in resealable packages, at $40 to $50 for 1/8 ounce. That price is more than double what one black-market Colorado dealer offered; approximately 30 percent of the sale price at legal marijuana stores goes to state and local taxes. A few dozen varieties are available at the store; all must be produced in Colorado by law. Varieties available include Lamb’s Breath, Hippy Chick, White Fire/Cinderella 99, and Daywalker/Tang Tang. The THC content is displayed on the package. The store also sells a wide range of edibles, including hard-candies, drinks, cookies and chocolates—all made with varying potencies of marijuana.

Anyone with a valid (21-and-over) ID from any state may purchase and possess up to one ounce of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Store employees carefully check ID before admitting a patron to the store, but they do not make or keep any record of the individual’s name or other personal information. Nor do they keep a record of the type or amount of marijuana purchased.

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