The Coming Crackdown on Marijuana [OPINION]
Today is the day adults can legally purchase marijuana in Massachusetts for recreational use. The state is in the business, and it doesn't want competition.
The citizens of Massachusetts voted in 2016 to allow the sale and use of recreational marijuana in a manner similar to how alcohol use is governed. There will be two stores legally able to sell marijuana to adults this week. The whole state--millions of adults--will be served by two stores.
One store will be in Northampton and the other is in the town of Leicester. Soon, a third option will open in Wareham, the "Gateway to Cape Cod."
The fact that only three stores are going to open more than two years after the citizens voted it into law is ridiculous. There will likely be traffic problems and local complaints on opening day. Those issues will only be solved by the government licensing more retail operations around the state to spread out the customer base.
But once the legal retail operations are licensed and functioning all over the state, there will be another necessary function for the Massachusetts state government: they will have to put the other marijuana retailers out of business. Why should the people who are playing by the rules have to compete with the criminal black market?
The illegal marijuana retailers don't have to cover the costs of taxes, fees and regulations like legal retailers. They can beat their legal competition on price and privacy.
As the state builds out the legal market, there will likely be a disappointing amount of revenue for the legal businesses and the state government. The cities and towns will also be disappointed in the revenue they anticipated receiving from legal marijuana.
The only answer will be to drive out the illegal sellers and push the consumers into the legal stores. Expect the full force of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and every city and town, to come down like a hammer on illegal marijuana transactions.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.