Up in Smoke


Up In Smoke

Once again Governor Kathy Hochul is complaining about New York’s marijuana rollout.  Perhaps she forgot about the last time she was griping about ganja, when she took decisive action and did her trademark… nothing.  Perhaps it slipped her mind that she is the chief executive of the state. 

Governor Hochul speaks after signing legislation helping homeless, disabled and elderly snap recipients to purchase prepared meals

The number of illegal (sorry unlicensed) cannabis stores in the state is still wildly out of control.  There are 400 such operations in Manhattan alone.  At a press conference this week, Hochul decried the number of unlicensed weed shops, but in a remarkable example of “pass the buck” mentality, she requested that social media and mapping sites remove the unlicensed shops from their searchable databases. 

In other words, we can’t handle the problem we created, so blame companies that make them easier to find (as if google maps searches were the problem).

Don’t forget that this state legalized marijuana in March 2021, without ensuring a proper licensing system was in place. The state legislature is equally to blame for this S.N.A.F.U. (situation normal – all fucked up, a term that came out of military logistics in WW2 and apparently the state motto of New York).  They never created penalties and regulations for cannabis sales when they legalized it.  But it has been years now with no improvements.  

Hochul’s response is typical.  The “rollout” of licensing is still delayed.  The asinine and arcane rules around who gets a license include giving a preference to people with criminal histories.  By now Hochul should see that the New York Office of Cannabis Management is dysfunctional and failing miserably – but she’s taking no action.

The organization is still being led by Chris Alexander, who must himself be a regular user of cannabis.  He has done nothing to show that he is capable of running this operation.  Alexander has no real-world experience and has jumped from one government agency to another before landing his current gig.  He is supported by a team of young political hacks who have past experience with cannabis.  Not exactly a team that inspires confidence.

Chris Alexander

But Hochul has kept this clearly failing team in place.  Now the “lucky” few who have paid for cannabis licenses are losing their patience.  They have followed the Office of Cannabis Management’s rules and are paying dearly.  As unlicensed vendors rake in the dough the higher priced, licensed shops are seeing their businesses fail.  License fees and taxes make them uncompetitive with the illicit market.     

Licensed business owners are not the only ones getting hurt financially.  New York, like many other states, promised huge tax revenues from that legal cannabis business.  Numerous states are falling below their anticipated tax estimates from peddling the harmful drug.  New York has likely lost money thus far with their disastrous program, but unsurprisingly many states are not close to meeting politicians’ financial promises.  Washington politicians estimated over $1 billion in taxes, but have only realized half of that number.  On the other end of the country, Maine estimated that they could earn as much as $49 million.  The actual number for 2022 was $27 million

And its not like this tax revenue has no consequences.  What started out as a push for “social justice” is turning into a national, state-sponsored, addiction epidemic.  The federal government still lists cannabis as an illegal substance.  You can disagree with the federal government keeping marijuana illegal, but perhaps they are looking out for Americans. 

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that over 30 % of high school seniors are using marijuana.  A government sanctioned store with outdoor advertising in neighborhoods will likely increase this number. 

And despite claims from advocates, marijuana is not good for you.  A recent study showed that heavy marijuana users in their teens lost an average of 8 IQ points.  Marijuana use has triggered paranoia, depression, and worsened symptoms in people with schizophrenia.  People who use large amounts of marijuana report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental health, and more relationship problems. 

Perhaps it is not good to be arresting people for smoking a joint, but is cannabis something that state governments should be pushing and profiting from? 

In ten years, there may be more tax revenues for politicians to waste, but Americans will all be worse off for the normalization of cannabis in our country.  We can guarantee that New York will be worse off.  We see it everyday already. 

If our officials are indeed smoking it regularly, at least we’d have an explanation.

Thanks for reading The Ops Desk. Stay Safe!


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