Gina Raimondo’s Budget and the Bad New Deal for the Marijuana Industry

Gina Raimondo’s new marijuana legalization scheme is a bad deal for the cannabis industry. The basic aim of the plan is to invest in Rhode Island through a theoretical government takeover of the cannabis industry in Rhode Island. It would push out all current medical patient and caregiver grow operations and replace it with government approved cannabis sold through government approved dispensaries. All cannabis products would be strictly limited by THC content restrictions. Revenue generated from the state-run marijuana industry would be owned by the state with a small portion being given to the producers and distributors. The state would use their portion to fund various state investments, education (ironic) as well as using the funds to fight the will of the people and seek out and prosecute the true heirs to the weed throne, THE PEOPLE! Here is what you need to know.

Gina Raimondo wants to discontinue the medical program currently set up in Rhode Island. It would illegalize, once again, home growing of cannabis. Anyone who has invested money and time developing their own growing operations would essentially be shut down without compensation. All production would be turned over to a small handful of hand selected “investors” who would take over the beloved work of the cultivators in the name of the State of Rhode Island. They would produce and distribute cannabis statewide under strict government regulation.

Cannibis products and concentrates would be strictly limited on the amount of THC they could contain. High potency concentrates would be banned, such as dabs and hash. THC contents for allowed products would be limited based on the type of product. The states claim is that this is the only way to protect public health.

Am I mistaken, is marijuana a danger to public health? I guess I tend to think of it as not a danger at all. When I imagine a danger to public health I think of things like disease (SARS, Ebola, Coronavirus) or the opiate epidemic striking the nation’s youth. People are dropping dead like flies from those things. But that image doesn’t come to my mind when I think about marijuana use. A better synonym for marijuana use might be therapy or healing or comfort; safety.  An old acquaintance of mine lost a 17-year-old daughter to a heroin overdose. She was still in high school. I don’t know of anyone that died from marijuana use. Do you?

The best part about this plan is that Raimondo wants to use the revenue from the takeover of the marijuana industry to help fund education and low income or struggling communities. That’s right, after all the billions wasted on fighting the ongoing battle of modern-day prohibition, and all the people from low income communities locked up, on probation or suffering some kind of legal trouble for marijuana related offenses, the state now wants to takeover and sell all Marijuana products. To top it all off they want to fund schools and the very same struggling people in struggling communities with this same money once labelled as illegitimate dirty “drug money”.

I am all for supporting schools, even with marijuana derived revenue. I am also for lifting up communities that are struggling. However, isn’t that too ironic. Couldn’t funds being used to fight marijuana all these years have been used to fund schools and struggling communities all along? Wouldn’t so many more people in low income communities be doing significantly better if they hadn’t spent thousands of dollars and years of their lives paying for the same “crime” that the state is about to allow themselves to commit freely?

Here is an idea. Maybe the marijuana aficionados in the struggling communities have had it right the whole time. Maybe they happened across a top selling highly beneficial and therapeutic product many years ago. There is certainly no shortage of marijuana demand form the middle and upper-class citizens of this great nation. Maybe the street dealers should have the glory of owning their own legal pot shops where they can do what they love to do and serve the public while generating tax revenue that will benefit their communities. Perhaps its high time that the government and the people got together on the same page. Perhaps the fortune belongs to the best of the best of the industry whom have already been in business for decades, who are in touch with the real people day in and day out, who know the ins and outs of the industry, and who in many cases have sacrificed everything to keep it alive.

A better idea for Gina is to write a real budget, one that doesn’t depend on the legalization of contraband to be successful (really bad idea). Then, put together a new marijuana legalization bill. This time create an application process that takes into account experience and knowledge along with proven production results and a solid business plan. Allow people from all over the state to apply. Choose a broad selection of people to grant licenses to grow or distribute marijuana and related products. Create a state grant or loan program to fund a portion of those who were granted licenses but are limited financially in production capacity but have all other necessary components. Limit dangerous additives and pesticides, not THC content and potency of a relatively safe herbal supplement. Create a statewide tax on marijuana related sales and use these funds, once they have been obtained, to help fund education, community projects and statewide infrastructure. Cease all marijuana related law enforcement activities except those deemed to be of a legitimate public safety concern.

That’s a realistic plan that would create opportunity for wealthy investors and average joes alike. This is a real way to give back to the community. It would stop the waste of funds on enforcement and incarceration that has been happening for nearly a century. It would generate sustainable revenue for the state through the creation of a free and competitive market, one that technically already exists but is untapped by legitimate taxation. Other similar state takeovers have failed, and with any luck this too will be defeated. State after state the people have spoken, from the Maine to California, even deep within the bible belt you can hear the people whisper, “recognize it, legalize it, give it back to the people.”

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