Why the Government Shouldn’t Sell You Cannabis
Some New Mexico Republicans are thinking of letting the government sell cannabis. I know, some of you cringed at the sound of that. It’s true though. Essentially the approach would be to have the state government oversee all of the activities within the recreational dispensaries.
What this would mean is that the government would be in charge of everything from retail, purchases, staffing and everything that were to pertain to running a dispensary. However, the argument of running a government dispensary is very nuanced. There are many elements that need to be considered.
Let’s walk through those.
Profit from Prohibition then Selling the Green?
The first issue we can see is the conflict of interests. Sure, the state is open to selling recreational weed, however for how long did they profit from prohibition. From a public perception standpoint, it would seem that the government simply wants to monopolize the commerce of cannabis. And they would be right.
When it comes to other substances like alcohol, the government doesn’t have liquor stores now do they? They allow private individuals to run these establishment with government oversight.
It would just be strange to flip the script and be like, “We used to jail you for this, now only we can sell it”.
Competing with the Free Market
The government has so much on their plate that running an effective business simply isn’t viable. Compared to the Free market, that has one major goal in mind – increasing profits while decreasing costs; the government dispensary simply wouldn’t have the resources to compete with private individuals.
The Free Market promotes competition, which in turn promotes innovation. If there is no competition, the incentives for innovation is reduced. We can look at the University of Mississippi as an example. For decades, they were the only federally sanction grow facility in the United States.
Most of the research done in the US on cannabis came from there. The problem? They had weak, terrible cared for cannabis that were stemmy, dry and sometimes contained seeds. Compare this to the crisp, beautifully resin covered buds from the cannabis industry. You have a clear example what the difference in products might be.
Job Creation Through Private Industry
The government doesn’t have the capability to create jobs at the same level as the free market. As opposed to trying to run the entire game, the government should facilitate private players and assist them in establishing the market.
One of the fastest growing job sectors in the US is the cannabis industry. This is because private individuals are investing, taking the risks on their own dime. They then hire people to help them turn profit.
This model works. What happens when those government types start giving preferences to ‘their people’ and not everyone? It happens. It happens in education, hell, it even happens in NASA.
The fact of the matter is that there will be a limit on job creation if the government steps in.
What the Government Can Do
The role of the government within the cannabis industry is to help establish it. By no means should they have any profit incentive within the industry. That should be left up to the market to regulate. Of course, there are certain oversights that the government can help with.
- Quality Control – Ensuring that all crops are compliant and no corners were cut
- Fairness within the market – Weed out bad players, promote those that comply.
- Keeping Taxes Low – Especially for the first part of the birth of an industry, the government should take as little from the industry as possible. Allow the industry to grow.
- Protect Consumers and Businesses – Finally, they should merely be a mediator between the private individual and the consumer.
We don’t need more government in the cannabis industry, we need less.
The Beauty of US Legalization
While the US is much slower in legalizing cannabis on a federal level, there is something you must admire about the method. Every State is serving as a petri dish for legalization and with all of this data, the perfect system will be born.
Other countries are looking to the different models in the US to mimic their own legalization efforts. Whether New Mexico will ultimately decide to go the government route or the free market route, will serve as a blueprint to other states and countries.
Eventually, all the systems will begin to look like the framework that addresses most of the issues within the industry, while providing enough wiggle-room for the industry to expand.
We’re currently in that process of finding out what works best, however I truly don’t believe that a government run program is the best approach. Let the experts deal with the weed, let the government deal with issues with the government.