Will Big Business Snag Marijuana Licenses?

October 26, 2017

Last week I mused about Big Pharma and their part in the opioid epidemic. By willingly doling out pills to distributors, who then willingly sold them to unscrupulous clinics and doctors, millions of Americans have become addicted to pain pills causing nearly 50,000 deaths last year.

Big Pharma has also been a major player in attempting to put the skids to the legalization of marijuana or in some states the

Mike Wilcox Mike's Musings Columnist

Mike Wilcox
Mike’s Musings Columnist

legalization of medical marijuana. Now, however, I believe they have changed their thinking after watching companies in Colorado and Washington haul in huge profits.

Marijuana is now recognized as a reasonable alternative for a variety of costly drugs. In states where marijuana is legally allowed for medical treatment purposes, most reasonable people will conclude it works well.

People often ask me if I have tried to use it for my Essential Tremors. If they looked closer with the way my hands shake, they would know the answer to that question. Of course I haven’t but maybe I should re-consider. On the Essential Tremor Facebook site it is ballyhooed as a miracle cure. Hundreds with uncontrollable shakes are resorting to medical marijuana.
Thousands, nearly 200,000 in Michigan are legally using marijuana for a wide variety of medical purposes. That’s in Michigan. The number, in the United States , of people taking marijuana to cure their ailments is staggering.

In Michigan, as in several other states, voters have gone to the polls to allow a broader usage of marijuana. Michigan lawmakers with the governor’s blessing have enacted new laws hoping to clarify medical marijuana edicts of the past.

They have left it up to local municipalities as to whether they will accept growers and dispensaries in their communities. Dispensaries are subject to a 3% tax on all gross receipts. Growers will have to partake in a marijuana tracking system set up by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that tracks marijuana from seed to sale.

The Bureau of Marihuana Licensing Board is the entity charged with issuing licenses to businesses who wish to start grow operations or dispensaries. They recently issued a public declaration that they would expect applicants to have start-up capital from $200k to $500k.

Some members of the Board, however questioned those lofty capitalization demands. David LaMontaine worried that the required capital would shut down many existing businesses and Rick Thompson wondered why a dispensary would need $300,000 to start-up when the capitalization required for a liquor store was $50,000.

Being a businessman for 30-plus years, I can’t imagine having $300k to work with. Obviously the Board’s intent is to dis-allow small operators in favor of big business- most likely, you guessed it, Big Pharma. At $500k there aren’t many individuals that would have that much working capital, but drug companies and others like them would only have to reach in to petty cash to come up with the sum.

Here we go again. I really was hoping the “little guy” could get his share of the marijuana profit pie, but if these regulations stick, they won’t even be able to obtain a license, let alone legally grow or dispense the newly legalized drug. To me government has it all wrong- AS THEY USUALLY DO. Lawmakers would rather line their pockets and insure their election with favors from big business than help a small businessman constituent eek out a middle class living.

Whether we like it or not, marijuana is the next “gold rush.” Entrepreneurs, eventually in all states, will throw money in order to make big profit killings. Like cigarettes or liquor it will be highly taxed and bring much needed revenues to our communities. Thus it is a welcome addition to our tax base just like it will be a welcome addition in the medicine cabinet of many families.

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