Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Moratorium

 

May 2, 2019



I want to ruffle my feathers and join the squackfest about marijuana production in Whitman County. I want to see as much agricultural diversity and value-added activity as possible.

The location for the proposed new business might have been wrong, near existing homes and a dainty dairy. I can't evaluate that. Other than that, let 'er rip.

Looking across countries and over time, the least drug use is found where there is a government policy of restricted availability; neither prohibition nor excessive availability.

That's because prohibition creates a black market whose merchants are motivated by retail prices 5x to 50x the pharmacy price and who enjoy freedom from government regulations. They sell their drugs any place, any time, using merchants of any age, to customers of any age. I hear that the girl's bathroom at school is a popular marketplace.

And because over-legalization promotes use. Any merchant will tell you that sales will increase as you increase the number of stores in which you display your product. Alcohol, tobacco, vaping and marijuana are displayed in too many locations. They belong in a state dispensary. No advertising.

Prohibition and over-legalization are all about making money. They are not public health policies.

There's a quaint notion that increasing the local production will increase local use. Silly. Let me reword the concept: Financed by prohibition's police-enforced, monopoly-powered profits, international organizations which are free of government regulations bring drugs to the kids' schools and parties. Without a prescription. At $100 billion a year, the market appears to be saturated with product. Saturated; the demand fully met.

Prohibition is the policy that was used to grow that market.

Increased supply has already resulted in increased intoxication. I haven't asked the current police chief in Moscow, but his two predecessors told me that their workload would fall to half of what it is now if Martians were to circle the planet and slurp up all the alcohol. Half.

That's because alcohol and tobacco are sold in child-accessible stores, and alcohol is advertised. Over-legalization is the policy that allows this.

So let's stop the prohibition and the over-legalization.

I have a wish. Now that we can see the ruinous consequences of drug prohibition spread throughout our circles of acquaintance, I wish that the service organizations that helped to promote it would now work to end it. Give themselves a new sense of purpose.

Then, I'd appreciate it if the government would get out of the way, and let the market be supplied by American producers.

I'm apprehensive. Can local producers survive? I heard that the smallest producers have already failed, because the low price to the producers requires economies of scale. Then, I read that growers in Canada are setting up greenhouses having a million square feet. If American producers follow that trend, will local growers be able to compete?

Of course, it's not all that simple. Some Canadian farmers who grow the smoking varieties are hoping that the big outfits will have trouble with pests and diseases, because pesticides can't be used. And some of the big boys are looking past the smoking product, giving their attention to producing the molecules: THC, CBD, etc. ("Cannabis growers are racing to scale up with massive greenhouses -- but not everyone thinks that bigger is better", by Vanmala Subramanian, The Financial Post, Jan 3, 2019)

She interviewed Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s largest cannabis producer. "[He] believes the future of cannabis lies... 'in expertly and efficiently extracting cannabinoids, or other molecules in the cannabis plant, for use in oils, gel capsules, and eventually, food and beverage products... It’s the molecules that matter.'"

Sounds like he agrees with our local guys. I hope the guys can find a location for their proposed new business.

--Wiley Hollingsworth, Pullman

 
 

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