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Do We Have Too Much Government Regulation?
Most references to government regulation are vaguely spoken and vaguely understood. The subject is important, as you will see--so important that some scholars of hugely influential reach weigh regulations, so to speak, how heavy they are--how many pounds they weigh-- in evaluating the health of the economy. Some time ago on this program, Jack Kemp, at that time secretary of housing under George Bush, told us that in order to build a house in California, one needed 14 different approvals from regulatory agencies. Imagine how many it must take to build an atom bomb. We have acknowledged that some regulations bump into other regulations and give us paradoxical situations. For instance, to the extent that we want to burn less motor fuel we have to have lighter cars. To the extent that we have lighter cars, more people get killed in accidents. So it's these paradoxes that we are seeking to explore here with our distinguished panel.
How to Make Legal Pot Work in Michigan
Michigan’s policy leaders must lay the groundwork for a safe and legal market in which consumers can gain access to marijuana products that have been tested to ensure they contain no dangerous chemicals or impurities. Implementing a state-run regulatory structure and market for marijuana is a difficult and arduous task. There are dozens of important facets to consider, including what substances to test for, whether to allow for deliveries, how the program will overlap with the state’s still-developing medical marijuana program, collaborating with local governments, and more. The state now has one year to adopt regulations that will help it carry out the new law. A year might sound like a long time, but marijuana regulations in other states often stretch hundreds of pages and Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will likely need to host dozens of meetings to collect public feedback before proceeding. The initiative provides only cursory guidance on some key policy issues. Many elements of these regulations are highly technical and can range from the software integration requirements for businesses seeking licensees with the state to the specific forms of mold or bacteria for which marijuana must be tested.
Nevada's Banking Bill is Not a Viable Solution
Over the past few years, I’ve been an entrepreneur in the legal marijuana industry in Nevada and elsewhere. I can tell you firsthand how incredibly frustrating it can be to operate in an industry for which banking services are generally unavailable. Actions that most entrepreneurs take for granted, like making deposits, transferring payments, remitting employee payroll tax withholdings or sending earnings distributions to out-of-state investors, become incredibly difficult and dangerous when it all must be done by physically moving cash. Unfortunately, however, the proposal would mostly fail to solve the legitimate needs of the industry and would not improve the physical safety at marijuana dispensaries. The reasons for this are not shortcomings of the legislation itself, per se, but limitations inherent to a banking system that is predominantly regulated at the federal level. Understanding this history is important because any attempt at a marijuana bank in Nevada would likely run into similar complications. SB 437 essentially abandons hope of a marijuana bank receiving a Federal Reserve master account and only authorizes the bank to issue limited checks that would not go through the Fed clearinghouse. Those checks would only be payable to state and local governments for taxes and to certain in-state vendors who could only cash them at the marijuana bank. This means the marijuana bank would mostly be a glorified vault for marijuana businesses. This isn’t the type of fix that will improve the safety of marijuana businesses or their customers. The bill also requires the proposed bank or credit union to acquire deposit insurance. It’s unlikely that would happen unless the institution plans to serve a much broader population.
The Absurdity of Marijuana and Firearm Laws
While the federal government has been generally tolerant of state experimentation with cannabis legalization, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has made it clear it will not tolerate mixing cannabis and guns. Thus, firearms dealers will have to abide by the ATF’s rules by denying medical cannabis card holders and anyone convicted of illegal cannabis possession the right to purchase guns. The enforcement of this law creates an absurd policy issue as states must register medical cannabis patient data but not recreational marijuana consumer data. As a result, medical cannabis patients are denied gun rights because the state keeps a registry that shows up when firearm background checks are conducted. Recreational users, however, are not required to register to purchase retail cannabis and are therefore untracked. The contradiction is blatant and damaging to medical patients, especially for those using the non-psychoactive CBD compound found in cannabis products that are commonly used to mitigate epileptic seizures.
A Conceptual Framework for State Efforts to Legalize and Regulate Cannabis
When drafting, evaluating and implementing cannabis reform policies, policymakers face a myriad of detailed choices, from specific agency authority to issues like tracking and testing. While these details are often overlooked by many advocates and media, they can actually mean the difference between policy implementation success or failure. Most states have stumbled and seen early hiccups in their regulated marijuana markets. Nevada, for instance, suffered a dearth of licensed distributors who could legally transport marijuana products from commercial cultivation facilities to dispensaries within the first few months of its program, resulting in sharp price increases and lack of availability. Both Colorado and Washington experienced delays, inefficiencies, cost overruns and revenues falling short of projections, resulting in a rollback of some of their more onerous initial mandates.
The Economists’ Smoot-Hawley Tariff Protest of 1930
We are convinced that increased protective duties would be a mistake. They would operate, in general, to increase the prices which domestic consumers would have to pay. By raising prices they would encourage concerns with higher costs to undertake production, thus compelling the consumer to subsidize waste and inefficiency in industry. First, as consumers they would have to pay still higher prices for the products, made of textiles, chemicals, iron, and steel, which they buy. Second, as producers, their ability to sell their products would be further restricted by the barriers placed in the way of foreigners who wished to sell manufactured goods to us.Our export trade, in general, would suffer. Countries can not permanently buy from us unless they are permitted to sell to us, and the more we restrict the importation of goods from them by means of ever higher tariffs the more we reduce the possibility of our exporting to them There are few more ironical spectacles than that of the American Government as it seeks, on the one hand, to promote exports… while, on the other hand, by increasing tariffs it makes exportation ever more difficult. A tariff war does not furnish good soil for the growth of world peace.
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