One of the most frustrating problems in the efforts to end marijuana prohibition has long been the distrust of freedom and the pretense that we are somehow “boldly going where no politicians have ever gone before.”
Specifically, marijuana has been sold over-the-counter to anyone over 18 for decades in the Netherlands (not just in Amsterdam). It also allows for on-premise consumption. And with almost no regulations, except NO HARD DRUGS. And essentially no problems. (Except on the still banned supply.)
However, when Nevada legalized recreational sales, even Las Vegas did not initially license on-premise consumption because they were unsure how it might work and what the consequences might be.
See: Las Vegas and Recreational Marijuana
In states where the politicians and the police distrust the people even more, the regulations have been even more absurd. For example, Ohio’s new medical marijuana laws (and some other states) do not allow the sale of marijuana to be smoked by patients, because the prohibitionist party line is that “NO MEDICINE IS SMOKED.”
See: PROFILES IN PROHIBITION: GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY’S WAR ON MARIJUANA USERS
That is the result of the Institute of Medicine’s study paid for by the Drug Czar’s office in 1999 that concluded that marijuana was as safe or safer than most medicines, except for the risks inherent in smoking anything. That point was seized as propaganda by the Drug Czar who ignored everything else. So 20 years later when Ohio voted to stop arresting the sick and dying, they included the Czar’s propaganda without having ever read — or even heard about — his propaganda.
See: Cannabis in Ohio
In Pennsylvania, regulations and taxes make medical marijuana much more expensive than in most other states.
See: Cannabis in Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an excellent exposé on “Why medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is some of the most costly in the U.S.”
In Pennsylvania, an eighth of an ounce costs $58.86, but only $17.84 in Washington state!
“The patient community is always outraged about the prices,” said Luke Shultz, a member of the state’s medical-marijuana advisory board. “I’m not sure where the price should be. But we’d sure like to see it lower.”
Of course, no one knows where any price for anything “should be,” which is why free markets work and “Socialism” doesn’t. However, if the prices are too high there is either too little competition or too much regulation.
The United States is supposed to be the world’s largest free market, but federal marijuana prohibition does not allow cheap marijuana from one state to compete with expensive marijuana from states with excessive restrictions on supply — or excessive taxation.
Meanwhile in New Jersey, InsiderNJ.com has an excellent report “NJ’s Lame Duck Cannabis Train-wreck” by Jay Lassiter:
“NJ is still locking up people for weed every day.
Sick people in NJ still endure long lines to pay $500 for an ounce of crappy medical marijuana.
Can’t afford NJ’s overpriced pot? Tough luck! Because the penalties for growing your own are “draconian” to put it mildly, up to 20 years in prison for a few plants.
The expungement of low-level, non-violent pot crimes remains unresolved.”
Remember, this is after: “New Jersey citizens voted overwhelmingly (by a 2-to-1 margin) in support of Public Question No. 1, which asked whether they approved of amending the New Jersey Constitution to legalize the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older in New Jersey.”
Politico.com has an extraordinary article by Mona Zheng that should be mandatory reading for everyone involved in the marijuana issue:
“How state marijuana legalization became a boon for corruption”
By making local officials the gatekeepers for million-dollar businesses, states created a breeding ground for bribery and favoritism….
In the past decade, 15 states have legalized a regulated marijuana market for adults over 21, and another 17 have legalized medical marijuana. But in their rush to limit the numbers of licensed vendors and give local municipalities control of where to locate dispensaries, they created something else: A market for local corruption…
States that have largely avoided corruption controversies either do not have license caps — like Colorado or Oklahoma — or dole out a limited number of licenses through a lottery rather than scoring the applicants by merit — like Arizona. Many entrepreneurs, particularly those who lost out on license applications, believe the government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers and should just let the free market do its job.”
Unfortunately, too many people who want to legalize marijuana don’t believe in free markets, and too many people who claim to believe in free markets, don’t trust the American people with personal freedom.
See: FBI Investigates Corruption in Marijuana Retail Licensing In California
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Why You May Want To Buy CBD This Christmas?