In Colorado, marijuana is legal for medical use—indeed it is constitutionally-protected—and marijuana is currently one of the few thriving business sectors in our otherwise moribund Rocky Mountain economy.
Marijuana caregivers are actively selling this miracle medicine to thousands of willing customers, paying sales and profit taxes, renting out vacant commercial space, hiring employees, retaining contractors and vendors, buying advertisements and marketing materials, holding conferences, and otherwise creating a great deal of economic activity.
At last, the cloud of prohibition is clearing, and marijuana transactions are occurring in well-lit, safe, taxable, environments instead of darkened back alleys, all for the benefit of suffering patients as well as the business climate. Numerous commercial real estate brokers tell me marijuana is the “only” reason commercial space gets leased in Coloradothese days.
And the government can’t handle it. This simple plant drives powerful, otherwise-intelligent, government officials insane. State Senator Chris Romer [son of the former governor and currently running for Denver Mayor], who has grabbed headlines as the politician seeking to regulate marijuana, proudly brags that the army of “auditors with guns” his legislation creates will put “well over 50 percent” of Colorado’s legal marijuana businesses “out of business.”
And Colorado’s main newspaper, the "Denver Post", undermines the legal justification for the entire industry by editorializing that “dispensaries are never even mentioned in the medical marijuana constitutional amendment,” despite the Colorado Constitution Article XVIII § 14(2)(d)’s specific reference to “acquisition, possession, manufacture, production, use, sale, distribution, dispensing, or transportation of marijuana,” so if “dispensing” is explicitly contemplated, then a dispensary must be legal. As far as the Denver Post is concerned, actions speak louder than words.
The Post has, admirably, run many advertisements for dispensaries and other retail marijuana operations, and hopefully this will continue because further legitimacy results when the State’s most venerable and largest newspaper profits from the retail legal sale of marijuana.
Marijuana is the only legal industry in America that hears such brazen threats from elected and opinion elites. If a politician had said that he plans to put “well over 50 percent” of all, say, supermarkets, out of business, would his career survive? Would voters rise up? To put “well over” half of these out of business would throw thousands of employees on the street without jobs, empty out thriving retail and production space making it vacant once again, deprive government of tax revenue, and deny the most vulnerable of suffering patients their medicine.
The latest legislative proposal, House Bill 1284, although some provisions make sense, much of it would realize Romer’s dream of putting “well over half” out of business with crushing and pointless regulation, requirements that no other business sector need satisfy.
For example, the current version of the bill requires that retailers themselves cultivate no less than 70 percent of their supply offered to customers. If such a requirement applied to supermarkets, i.e., that the supermarket must grow 70 percent of the wheat for the bread on the shelves, it would put both farmer and supermarket out of business, stuck in an infinite loop of government “auditors with guns” tracking every last minutiae of the production chain, and for what reason?
If this regulation comes in and Romer puts “well over half” out of business, would the production, sale, purchase, and use of marijuana end? Would it even reduce? Of course not. It would simply go back underground, back to unsafe darkened alleys, untaxable, with no quality control. And those who need it the most, the 75-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair, would not be able to obtain it as easily from the black market.
Try as the government might to repeal the laws of supply and demand, marijuana will always be consumed and will always be produced. The government continues its Prohibitionist economic illiteracy, and attempts to crush a brand new, productive business sector for no good reason.