End marijuana prohibition
Nevada’s implementation of the law requiring medical marijuana establishment (MME) licensing is so far plagued by hidden financing, proxy companies, questionable campaign contributions and forbidden crossovers between gambling licensees and dispensary ownership in Clark County. The problem is that the state has capped the number of dispensaries by county, has required enormous capital to apply, and the licenses are awarded by politicians. What could possibly go wrong?
When the state artificially creates a market, rather than markets creating themselves, there will be corruption. When the number of legalized outlets is capped by government, and only government can approve new applications, the opportunity for start up competition is capped as well. Without competition, there will be a few entrenched special interests who will dominate the industry. Nevada promised transparency in the selection process, but so far the process has been opaque.
Even an inefficient or corrupt process is better than prohibition. The elephant in the room is the federal government, which is demanding heavy regulation in marijuana states or else it will turn loose the DEA. That is what happened in California. California’s experiment with medical marijuana was decentralized and largely unregulated. Different localities had different rules, and very pot friendly jurisdictions like Oakland began talking about city-sanctioned large indoor grow rooms. The result was a series of federal raids and confiscation of bank accounts that crippled many California green gold rush dispensaries. Sacramento’s response was to write new regulations, but they still do not provide state support for local dispensaries or provide statewide legal protections for cannabis workers. In Congress Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker have introduced a bill that would defund the DEA’s ability to harass states where medical marijuana is legal.
This November, Alaska and Oregon may vote to join Washington state and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana. Washington’s experiment has been criticized for being overly regulated, while more libertarian Colorado is characterized as too commercial. Both states are hoping that their regulations will keep the federal government at bay. Colorado’s model has been a financial success and has brought in significant tax revenues. Denver’s regulations ban smoking cannabis either in the pot stores or in restaurants. This has led many pot tourists to purchase a lot of edible cannabis.
Edible marijuana usually takes an hour to be effective and inexperienced users may think it’s not working and consume too much. Even though instructed by the budtender to divide a cannabis cookie into six pieces, a young Wyoming student ingested far to much. This young man tragically became disoriented and fell to his death from a hotel balcony. Another death possibly linked to an edible cannabis reaction combined with a bump in cannabis-related emergency room admissions have not led to talk in Colorado about any bans, only requiring warning symbols for edible packaging and to a debate over relaxing Denver’s public smoking ban. Legalization works!
Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom helped finalize the state regulations on MMEs just this March, and he told Nevada counties and cities to “get off their butts” and issue their own regulations.
Applications for Northern Nevada MMEs and related businesses will be accepted from Aug. 5 through Aug. 18. The form can be downloaded from the Nevada website.
On May 27, Segerblom announced support for an initiative drive to fully legalize marijuana in Nevada for the 2016 election. If it qualifies for the ballot and passes, it will be another victory for freedom. Freedom is the best way to ensure quality, safety and low costs in the new cannabis industry.