I’m sure some readers may be wondering what cockfighting and legalization have in common; the answer is they “both” need to be controlled by the government and not the private sector. Both of these phenomena are capable of being reproduced by almost any resident and by almost anyone over the age of 10. Both of these phenomena are capable of entertaining extremely large amounts of money which creates the potential for criminal behavior and it is also money that should be taxed and the only credible means for safety and accountability is for the government to be on site for the safety participants and spectators and to collect taxes while ensuring there is no cheating. Finally, both of these phenomena need to be conducted under “fair conditions.” So as one can see there is a very good argument for legalization to be controlled by the government as top marijuana policy experts at major universities are now promoting after witnessing the Colorado, Washington and Oregon experiments in legalization. Cockfighting, the airline industry and legalization need controls!
There are only two means for legalization to be implemented: government or private sector. The “controls” over a private system that prevail over the growth, processing, sales and payment of taxes makes all of these dynamics of the industry left up to private individuals and businesses. Needless to say, there is very little accountability and there is even a dependency that these individuals and businesses will follow all the laws and not cheat on reporting their taxable income. Much of a private sector system will go virtually unchecked because the government will only collect fees and taxes for regulating and monitoring and testing. The government will exercise virtually no real controls to guarantee the authentication of all commercial growth, safe and reliable commercial processing, and the actual sales amounts for tax purposes. States are implementing the “traditional private sector legalization system” because they don’t have any other option due to their geographical size, with populations in the millions who will need or want access to the products of the marijuana industry. States don’t want to sacrifice the “millions in investment” needed to create a government controlled system because of the size the agency would need to be for a state with millions of square miles of land and millions of people, especially when marijuana is still has an uncertain future with the feds.
However, unlike states in the mainland, the CNMI is far smaller and far less populated in addition to being “segregated” from the rest of the world by an ocean. The CNMI may be the perfect test tube for implementing a government-controlled legalization system. Unlike the government operated liquor business of Utah where you can only buy liquor at a state (government) liquor store, a government controlled legalization system is much different so don’t get a government operated industry confused with a government controlled industry like we see locally with cockfighting and nationally with the airlines industry (fed air traffic controllers, fed immigration controls and FAA controls). Certain industries must be controlled by the government and I submit that the commercial marijuana industry will best serve its purpose as a government-controlled industry, like cockfighting and the airline industry.
The main argument against a government-controlled system is “we can’t trust the government.” Well, if you are going to trust the government to regulate the industry, why not trust it to “control and regulate” the industry? The idea that you can trust the government to be responsible enough to regulate but not to control is really a conflicting dichotomy! If the government can regulate, then it can surely control the factors it is being tasked with regulating like we see with cockfighting and the airlines. In fact, experts have deduced that arguments against the government having “direct control” are just more fear-mongering arguments that are unfounded just like many of the false claims that were once raised against legalization, which have now been debunked.
The CNMI has the opportunity to have the best marijuana law in the nation while being the first state level government to implement legalization under a fully government controlled system and we must be the first in our region. The only question is, will our leaders carpe diem or will they sit around playing politics while the people watch Guam and Hawaii leave us in their wake again! I’ve been warning our leaders for two years that we are in a competition and now Guam’s governor is aware of the competition for our region and he is not playing-around with legalization Please, don’t let this be another “I told you so” because I’ve been trying to keep us in the race and competitive enough to beat Guam to the finish line and hopefully they will move now that Guam’s governor is competing for the cannabis tourism market.
Ambrose M. Bennett