Drug Legalization

Will California Let Marijuana Businesses Grow Big Enough 'to overly influence the regulatory process'?

Remain calm, politicians. All is well.



An unintentionally hilarious progress report from California's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy illustrates the difficulties politicians face as they try to break to harness a product and an industry that has thrived quite nicely without them, thank you. Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the report agonizes over the already well-established and well-accepted trade in marijuana that thrives on the fringes of the allowed medical marijuana business, or else completely under the table. In anticipation of a likely successful 2016 ballot measure to legalize pot for recreational use in emulation of legal changes in Colrado, Washington, and elsewhere, the Commission report discusses regulatory, tax, and legal considerations with all of the gravity of a youthful Kevin Bacon in a ROTC uniform screaming "remain calm" just before disappearing under the feet of a heedless mob.

There's plenty in the report over which to chuckle, but a discussion of how to keep marijuana businesses from growing powerful enough to contend on an equal level with regulators is particularly amusing (to me, anyway). The report acknowledges "It is likely that the current illegal market has many operations at the full range of scale, from small to very large," but then muses over just how large businesses should be allowed to get out in the open.

Keeping marijuana businesses small increases the cost of inspections (due to more numerous sites to be inspected), but also may yield smaller operations which can less easily marshal the resources necessary to overly influence the regulatory process. Allowing large corporate entities makes regulatory inspection easier, but raises risks of regulatory capture.

Oh, so we're going to sculpt the industry to the proper shape, are we? Perhaps the "very large" existing illegal operations will cooperatively downsize so as to avoid accumulating too much political clout.

Keep in mind that Newsom, who now has his eyes on the governor's office, is a wholly owned creature of the teachers unions who lashes out even at fellow Democrats who challenge their malevolent influence over education policy and reform. Those teachers unions somehow gained regulatory capture over California politics without recourse to the "large corporate entities" that so trouble the pol who benefits from organized labor support. Just sayin'.

Elsewhere, the report acknowledges the likelihood that slapping high taxes on pot "can contribute to the continued operation of a large-scale illicit market." Regulations on just who could participate in a newly legalized industry also "could drive some actors into the illicit market."

Overall, the report reads like what it is: An effort by people accustomed to exercising control to get a handle on something that's already largely out of their reach.

Remain calm, Gavin. All is well.

NEXT: David Harsanyi: We Should At Least Act Like God Gave Us the Constitution

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    1. At least he restored America’s reputation…

  1. So politicians are aware of regulatory capture? Because if they are, they sure as fuck don’t care about it elsewhere.

    1. Aware of it? Their retirement funds depend on it!

      Just give it time for the marijuana industry to get some major lobbying muscle on its payroll.

  2. Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom

    Oh my god, this fuckin’ guy? Please.

    1. “Oh my god, this fuckin’ guy? Please.”

      It is really strange seeing the guy in person; I cannot remember a guy wearing what looks like pomade on his hair. It is positively greasy-looking, to the point I found it hard to take my eyes off and look him in the face.

      1. I cannot remember a guy wearing what looks like pomade on his hair.

        Then how did you know the word for it & what it looks like?

        1. Ever watch old films?

  3. Oh, so we’re going to sculpt the industry to the proper shape, are we?

    It’s the complete balls-deep arrogance of the modern left.

    Washington already did this with its quasi-legal marijuana market. They have all the regulatory oversight and market meddling, complete with five-year plans that would make an old Soviet apparatchik blush. Washington regulators actually sat down and decided how much marijuana would be consumed, and then put caps and limits on production to make sure that there wasn’t an excess.

    People would be doubled over in laughter at this, except it’s real and in place. It’s not that funny.

    1. And how soon are all the wheels going to come off? Preferably on a trajectory for impacting on the (solid biscuit) heads of the regulators.

  4. Overall, the report reads like what it is: An effort by people accustomed to exercising control to get a handle on something that’s already largely out of their reach.

    No, Jerry, you’ve just cherrypicked contents to make it fit that impression, given your say-so. Rather, it reads similarly to just about all similar reports I’ve read over the years from drug reform organiz’ns. I take it you’re not familiar with such literature. It’s mostly an outline setting out questions & possible answers. It does not have the slant you imputed to it.

  5. I have enjoyed that scene from “Animal House” countless times, ever since the movie was first in theaters, and I must admit never having really read the signs over the establishment shown here: “The All American Club … The Place That’s Making Cottage Grove Famous.” Of course, Cottage Grove is not the name of the fictional town that is home to the fictional Faber College (“Knowledge is Good”), but apparently it is one of the several (not well-disguised) Oregon locations where “Animal House” was filmed. I took a Google Maps Street View walk down their Main Street and saw a couple of places that might have been the site of the old All-American, but as the club itself is gone and there have obviously been changes to the downtown area in the intervening decades, I cannot be sure. Do “Animal House” trivia buffs know the address of the All American Club?

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