Reality in Government

Last week, I spent a fair amount of time talking to people in NYS’ Government about cannabis. There are countless challenges, but the biggest issue is the illicit market. It isn’t that nobody cares; it is hard to crack down on because of the way the cannabis laws were written. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) controls everything. They are understaffed, they need more resources (they do not even have the capital to put out PSAs), they can’t handle all the applications or spend time talking to the legal stores that are already opened, and they must be involved in the shutting down of illicit shops. That is a huge responsibility that might have looked good on paper when they began, but they are drowning.

Besides being involved in the cannabis business, as an NYer, I care about the many CAURD licensees who got their golden ticket but have been waiting in perpetuity to open because of endless lawsuits, and we will continue to see more. Time will tell, but for most of us, particularly the farmers, getting there is costly and extremely painful.

I read an article about a handful of GOP MAGAs who believe that the way to stop fentanyl coming into the country is to invade Mexico. They have introduced legislation that would tie drugs to the war on terrorism. Do any of these people pay attention to the failed war on drugs? Do they understand why it failed? Simple, Americans like drugs. They want to gamble, have sex, drink, and do drugs. Some are addicted to these sins, while others have a good time. Those are facts across the globe.

Eighty-eight percent of medical cannabis patients reduced their use of prescription drugs and alcohol. The ability to buy CBD legally leads to a significant drop in opioid prescriptions. Based on the destruction of many families from Oxicotin, one would believe that this is a good thing. Cities with legally licensed cannabis retailers have seen the average home values increase by 40% over cities without legal cannabis retailers. The benefits are increased tax revenues, jobs, and if Federally legal, investment opportunities.

If the Federal Government legalized cannabis, fewer people would be obtaining illegal products on the street that might have fentanyl in them. If we legalized all drugs, the issues of fentanyl would change dramatically. There will always be illicit dealers, but chances are we will have fewer deaths from this.

After spending a day in Albany testifying with other people in the cannabis industry, my suggestion would be for the Government, both local and Federal, to spend more time talking to the people who are in the trenches. There is enough data to learn from vs. wasting everyone’s time with ridiculous legislation that lives in its echo chamber.

I am tired of absurd rhetoric from the right field that creates sound bites. This is a nascent industry that is producing record tax revenues; it is time to legalize it. It would help the states, it would help the citizens of this country, and it would save lives.