Vail Daily letter: Marijuana in the marketplace
September 17, 2013
Within the town limits, Eagle has effectively banned the establishment of pot shops, save one — and "one" does not a market make. As I understand it, Eagle would allow another shop to compete once its population reaches 10,000 people. One wonders how the determination was made that one shop for every 10,000 people, and no more, was necessary to preserve or maintain the health, safety and welfare of the public, when such a cap is not placed upon the number of liquor stores, bars, gun shops, etc., in Eagle. Only need and desire of the inhabitants of the neighborhood would determine the number of liquor outlets — here, the people determine the accessibility of alcohol for the consumer, whereas, only the town Board of Trustees have determined, by some calculation, the number of outlets for the purchase of marijuana — kinda like "global warming" research.
As it stands now, the market for the sale of marijuana has been monopolized by one outlet via governmental fiat. The value of this one license has accordingly been enhanced, not by success in the market place, but by an arbitrary constraint impressed by government itself that creates a rarity (one retail outlet for the whole town).
That said, of course the issue of whether to ban competition in the market place for this commodity should be put to the vote of the people, since that is the only way we can avail ourselves of anti-trust remedies, provide for competition, increase tax revenue for the town, and in turn benefit the consumer by lowering the price for the product. The equation for allocating retail outlets should be the same for marijuana as it is for alcohol — need and desire of the denizens of the neighborhood. Besides, there are strict controls already in place for limiting the number of outlets through town zoning and the restrictions placed on location by state law. Reasonable regulation of the marketplace is an "American thing," and quite different than prohibition, abolition or deprivation of personal rights to shop in a competitive market (a "dictatorial thing").
The existence of this one marijuana dispensary in Eagle is due to the sense of fairness and equity of the people in Eagle through their vote at the last referendum when the town resolved to renege on a privilege previously granted. And I do not believe these same voters intended to thereafter shut out competition in order to shelter that privileged outlet from the vagaries of the marketplace or assure its continued prosperity.
In November, the people of Eagle will vote for competition. They will opt for the right of the individual to choose his elixir or poison, and they will negate the exclusive trust agreement that exists between the Board of Trustees and Eagle's one and only retail outlet for marijuana — I guarantee you this, or my name is John Galt. To place a $5 fee for every transaction involving the sale of marijuana is as arbitrary as establishing one retail dispensary for every 10,000 people. The town already benefits from the sales tax generated in the deal.
Is the reasoning behind it all to punish the "pot-head" through a higher price? Is it to pacify the abolitionists among us by exacting tribute from the supposed "devil's weed"? Why not such a fee for the sale of firearms, tobacco or alcohol? They are known to have caused harm in the past. Other than alcohol, marijuana is the only other consumptive commodity in Colorado that is specifically sanctioned by the Constitution. So why discriminate against this one product and not others of lesser authority? A "yes" vote for competition, without a penalty imposed, is in keeping with the people's sentiments of fair play, and they will come through once again.