Sharing marijuana wealth, Alaska-style

Who gets to sell marijuana?

If the government doesn’t monopolize marijuana sales, then individuals or corporations chosen in various ways, like by lot, on the merits, by willingness to pay fees, by periodic auction, or by voucher privatization will get to sell it.  Voucher privatization failed in Russia because permanent rights were given away all at once, but we can learn from that mistake.  And none of the other options is humming.

Dividing the right to sell up annually per capita among residents avoids licensing disputes and delays.  It spreads wealth, at least unless interstate commerce comes in.

Mechanics are primitive:  The state passes out transferable electronic vouchers to all voters or bright-line tested residents. This is like Alaska’s Permanent Dividend Fund, which sent $1,884 in oil dividends to each qualifying resident of the state for 2014, and keeps on humming.

Say every voter gets one transferable Quota Share. Each Quota Share is entitled to a transferable equal fraction of the year’s total production target, set by the state. 

While actual allocations would be done at the state level, national numbers are available to work with. The RAND Report for Vermont suggests that 19,000 acres could satisfy national demand. That’s 827,640,000 square feet to split among 320 million people. So each Voucher  would allocate a little over two square feet. Say the total crop is now worth $40 billion, as the RAND Report suggests.   Say half of the total consumer price eventually went to pay for legality. Then 320 million people would divide up $20 billion, so an Annual Voucher  would be worth some $62.50. If the 78 million voters in 2014 divided it up, the raw number would be a little over $250 each.

This plan would need a minimum amount of square feet to grow a plant. Maybe it needs to use pounds instead.

Say 300 acres in North Carolina for 5,000,000 voters.  Quota Shares don’t seem like they’re worth much, so only they bring only chump change the first year – and keep costs down for the struggling industry.  Probably a few players will control the industry the first year.

That’s where the Russian lesson comes in.  The only obvious way to keep private power down is not make licenses all and only annual licenses. Industry (the Big Money Boys) will want longer licenses, but they may not have the votes yet.

In later years, voucher prices will probably stabilize.


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