What stopped state-run marijuana sales in Utah? Fear of a federal crackdown? Or something else?
“Officials in Utah last year abandoned a plan to operate state-run medical marijuana dispensaries, in part because of fears the federal government might intervene or withhold unrelated funding as punishment,” says a Boston Globe story by Dan Adams and Felicia Gans.
I don’t think those fears were warranted. I suspect they were manufactured.
The State of Louisiana faced those same fears years ago, but examined them and found them baseless. The State didn’t blink when it went into the business of growing medical marijuana (via its Land Grant Universities, LSU and (HBCU) Southern). LSU addressed the “federal funding” issue explicitly – and went forward.
So maybe Utah misread the green light. Or maybe the light isn’t so green, and the federal government will soon shock the world by cracking down on Louisiana alone (and not the nation’s thousands of private marijuana sellers). That sounds pretty doggone unlikely.
Meanwhile, a municipal retail recreational cannabis store has been operating in Washington State since 2015, with this mission statement: “As a government entity, we are unique in our industry in that our primary focus is public health and safety. We strive to be an exemplary employer, a model business, and ensure that all profits are used for the benefit of the community.” So far, the federal government hasn’t lifted a finger, or breathed a word.
But there’s another hypothesis about what transpired in Utah to kill state stores. Maybe private commercial interests decided they didn’t want to share the marijuana profits with the States, and got the Legislature to do their bidding. Those private interests could have used the possibility of a federal threat as a cover to make their case – and keep all that money in private hands.