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The Haymaker: Living Large in Mooch’s ‘Zombie Apocalypse’

July 21, 2017
Anthony Scaramucci speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday afternoon. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

‘The Haymaker’ is Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott’s weekly column on cannabis politics and culture.

If you caught new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s debut press conference today, you know a few things about the Mooch. He is:

  • Slick
  • Articulate
  • Confident
  • A sharp dresser
  • Reassuring in tone
  • Handy with the quip and joke
  • A big fan of President Trump
  • Fox News’ idea of a devilishly handsome gentleman
  • No longer available for that role as the third Shark in “West Side Story”

Say what you will about the man’s employment choices and his boss’s behavior: Mooch is a three-step upgrade for the shop that brought you Shrub-Hiding Spicey.

Not ten minutes into Scaramucci’s Briefing Room debut, though, the indefatigable Tom Angell resurfaced a tweet the Mooch sent out in October 2015:

 

Zombie Apocalypse!

Scaramucci hardly strikes me as a Sessions-level prohibitionist. Honestly, if I caught sight of him around a friendly summer bonfire I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull a Pax 3 out of his pocket and offer it around.

Back in the pre-2016 era, ye olde “Everyone in Colorado is Stoned!” canard was standard fare for a lot of people who wanted to appear smart. The chattering class worried about people showing up to work stoned and growing fat because of the munchies. Tina Brown famously fretted that legal cannabis would harm America’s IQ, our slender figure, and our ability to compete with the Chinese:

 

As one of Brown’s countrymen might say: Rubbish. Tosh. What rot.

One tweet does not make policy, and I don’t expect a tossed-off line from 2015 to crash our state-legal systems. But it’s worth considering the assumption underlying Mooch’s joke: How have cities fared in the aftermath of adult-use legalization?

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The Milken Institute’s “2016 Best-Performing Cities” report may be the best evidence available. That study, produced by an institute founded by 80s junk bond king Michael Milken, looked at “where America’s jobs are created and sustained.”

Denver, Seattle, and Portland were the three largest cities in the states with legal cannabis in 2015 and 2016. All three appear as Top 20 best-performing large cities, according to Milken. Seattle clocked in at #10, and top-3 in high-tech GDP concentration. Denver wasn’t far behind at #13, with a top-10 performance in wage growth. Portland came in at 14, with a ribbon for high-tech GDP concentration (#2, behind only San Jose, home of Silicon Valley).

In fact, the four cities with the highest concentration of high-tech GDP were all in states with either adult-use or medical legality. One through four: San Jose, Portland, Seattle, Boulder.

Those are some really freakin’ smart zombies.

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What about city growth?

Let’s look at which towns are attracting the ambitious. Here Seattle is number one, with the fastest one-year growth rate among the nation’s 50 most populous cities between 2015 and 2016. Ask anyone who’s tried to buy a house in Seattle recently about the effect that’s having on the market.

Seattle’s premier employer used to be Boeing. Now it’s Amazon. Neither of these companies are hiring “stoners” or weed zombies. They are, however, hiring smart, educated people who may or may not consume cannabis once in a while.

Last year Amazon added 110,000 employees. That’s more people than live in the entire city of Pueblo, Colorado. The company now cuts paychecks to more than 341,000 people. Google is beefing up its offices in Seattle and in Boulder. Why? Because that’s where smart, ambitious young people want to live now. No, they’re not moving to those cities because cannabis is legal there. Legalization is part of the package: It goes hand-in-hand with the tolerance, progressive values, and belief in scientific evidence that defines the culture of those cities.

Welcome to the zombie apocalypse, Mooch. If I were you, I’d stop mocking it and start investing in it.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

View Bruce Barcott's articles

  • calvet11

    Pearl’s before swine Bruce. I have stopped trying to figure out the anti-cannabis people now for quite a few years. Haven’t got there yet. Let Jeff Sessions be the only embarrassment close to the President. The Mooch could have changed his mind since 2015, after all 3/4 of Washington can change their minds in a crack head second.

  • Garrett Kirk

    Bruce, virtual high five for that article!

  • Rick Sizemore

    YOU put the wrong man in office for for weed. Trump is a liar he never tells the truth.

  • Mary Cutillo McKinney

    I have been trying to kevin’s friends of mine that I am not a drug attic because I choose to smoke marijuana I enjoy it I don’t like drinking alcohol because I don’t like getting sick the next day and I don’t like not knowing what I’m doing but these people still think that if you smoke marijuana you are a drug attic that it’s going to lead to other drugs my first drug was alcohol what do you think

    • lovingc

      Your not a drug attic? You must have smoked one instead of studying spelling, try google for spell check.

      • Mod Spec

        @lovingc
        If you want to be uneducated on the subject, that’s on you. But to lash out about a spelling error proves no point. Especially, when your comment has more errors. Kind of makes me curious as to what you “study”.

        It’s “You’re” not “Your” and it’s “addict” not “attic”.

        • Mary Cutillo McKinney

          Thank you my friend

      • Mary Cutillo McKinney

        Sorry never checked my spelling embarrassed 🍷

  • OV
    • OV

      p.s.

      Ha! Scaramucci = Scaramuche -perfect – He’s the new theocratic clown to dance for the Emperor who has no clothes.

      “Scaramuccia(literally “little skirmisher”), also known as Scaramouche or Scaramouch, is a stock clown character of the Italian commedia dell’arte. The role combined characteristics of the zanni (servant) and the Capitano (masked henchman). Usually attired in black Spanish dress and burlesquing a don, he was often beaten by Harlequin for his boastingand cowardice.”

      “Scaramouche entertains the audience by his “grimaces and affected language”. Salvator Rosa says that Coviello (like
      Scaramouche) is “sly, adroit, supple, and conceited”. In Molière’s The Bourgeois Gentleman, Coviello disguises his master as a Turk and pretends to speak Turkish. Both Scaramouche and Coviello can be clever or stupid—as the actor sees fit to portray him.”

      “Scaramouche is one of the great characters in the Punch and Judy puppet shows (a performative art with roots in commedia dell’arte). In some scenarios, he is the owner of The Dog, another stock character. During performances, Punch frequently strikes Scaramouche,causing his head to come off his shoulders. Because of this, the term scaramouche has become
      associated with a class of puppets with extendable necks.”

      http://www.chron.com/news/p

      https://www.mediamatters.or

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

  • Ima Straight

    I know he’s citing these Google and Amazon numbers as proof to support the idea that there is no ‘Zombie’ effect with legalization, but make no mistake, they are not good for the residents of the city of Seattle. We have a housing crisis. 11,000 are trying to survive on the streets, 87% of whom are from this county. With no rent control, rents are doubling and tripling. There is no place to go, either. Where is “away” for lifelong residents? Subsidized or Senior housing is all anti-marijuana, just because they can. Waiting lists are over 4 years long, any subsidy is via Lotto and the odds are 3400 to 1, no preference for locals who paid taxes here their whole life.
    Ask any of these 115,000 new tech bros/babes who lived in their jacked-up-rent-apartment before them, and where they are at now; and you will get a stoopid blank stare. It never occurred to them that they are invading and displacing residents who do not work for their company. Like any really high person, it’s ALL about them 24/7.
    So we just have a different breed of Zombies. Too rich to give one F.
    Personally, I am boycotting Amazon. Their impact on the city has been awful for anyone but themselves and some bars and landlords. So they just rented space for 35 beds of a homeless shelter, BFD, considering the impact on housing, traffic, retail and culture.