Arkansas medical marijuana

Quick, what’s the fastest way to make marijuana boring?

Bog it down in a commission and make sure rich people are the only ones who get to grow it.

The state of Arkansas passed a medical marijuana initiative on its November ballot, but the resultant Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has the tough job of creating rules and regulations to get the nascent industry off the ground in The Natural State.

Tuesday, the commission passed further framework for the five “cultivation facilities” it will initially license. Among other details, those facilities must be able to show a $1 million surety bond or $1 million in assets plus $500,000 cash on hand, according to the blog Arkansas Times.

While rules are not yet set for the 20 to 40 dispensaries the commission plans to license, the $1 million figures for prospective cultivation-facility proprietors highlight both a necessity in the regulation of a big-money business and the inevitable truth that the modern American Dream is mostly limited to those who already have it made.

On the one hand, the Arkansas Times noted how commissioners were concerned that any cultivation applicant who couldn’t show $1 million in assets might be at risk for going under before the new industry gets its legs under it.

“We’re not saying they have to use all that cash; we’re just saying they have to have the availability to keep going, because the last thing the commission or the state wants is one of these to fail,” said Commissioner Travis Story.

But that logic flies in the face of American free-market capitalism. By Story and the commission’s logic, young and non-wealthy entrepreneurs should not even be allowed to apply for a medical marijuana cultivation license because they might, gasp, fail in their business endeavor.

In reality, these sorts of regulation thresholds directly benefit the wealthy, billionaires like George Soros and the late Peter Lewis (Progressive Insurance) who have sunk major money into state marijuana efforts over the past 10 years. While those types of political donors surely do believe in the work they are funding, they also didn’t become super rich by letting the little guy reap the benefits of the laws they pass. Since they have already developed cultivation facilities in other states, they are the most prepared to walk into a state like Arkansas, prove $1 million in assets and set up a pot farm lickety-split.

In the Sooner State …

If medical marijuana passes in Oklahoma — and, remember, voters still don’t know when it will be on a statewide ballot — advocates should be aware of how the Arkansas medical marijuana system is being set up. They should be prepared, if the time comes, to articulate arguments against the wealthy controlling the new industry in Oklahoma.

That might make for ironic political discourse: Pot-promoting, long-haired liberals arguing for a free-market economy devoid of unnecessary government regulations.

But it would be the right thing to do.