Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for having me. I’m Pat Oglesby. I live in Senator Foushee’s district now, but I’m originally from the home of the Shad Festival, Grifton. I’ve practiced tax law, been a staff lawyer for the Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, taught classes at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and been a member of angel investment groups. I’ve founded the Center for New Revenue, a non-profit that looks at marijuana revenue, and advised state governments on marijuana, pro bono and for pay.
I’m an analyst, not an advocate. There’s a lot of money on the table. A billion dollars’ worth of medical marijuana was soldin the first 40 months of medical-only legalization in Maryland. This month, a single medical marijuana license there sold for $8 million.
There’s another way. In Canada, provinces started out having a government retail medical marijuana monopoly – online only, delivery only, no glitz. In Louisiana, the 2 land grant universities, LSU and Southern, have had a monopoly on growing medical marijuana for years. Federally illegal! Yes, but the federal government knows that, and is winking – and not lifting a finger.
There are pros and cons. The for-profit model is likely to be more efficient and patient-friendly. Government can be bureaucratic. Buying from the government is like chowing down at the school cafeteria; buying from entrepreneurs is like dining on Restaurant Row. Government sales cost more to start up, though they bring in more revenue in the long run. Government sellers can set fair prices and prevent diversion. They won’t try to boost demand, and won’t say advertising restrictions are unconstitutional.
Maybe people don’t trust government. But in a 2013 poll, North Carolina voters preferred government marijuana sales over private sales by a 3 to 1 margin. The poll is available at www.newrevenue.org.
Patients need medicine. Someday, somehow, we’ll stop making them break the law. There’s no single right way to do it – but a lot to think about. I wish you well.
Speakers were given only 2 minutes instead of the 3 I hoped for, so I ad libbed. More to come.