The burgeoning cannabis business has made a lot of business owners wealthy. Like any other industry, cannabis has its haves and have-nots. Some businesses do extremely well while others need to content themselves with being adequate. To those with a very narrow view, the inequities are all about access.
Supposed access problems affect both business owners and customers. People who want to become business owners do not have access to the system. Meanwhile, customers do not have access to product because of a number of reasons. But is access the real issue? And if so, what is really the root of such access problems?
Medical Cannabis Access in Utah
Utah cannabis advocates and lawmakers have been working together for the last two years to improve access to cannabis among qualified patients. Unfortunately, large swaths of the Beehive State are rural in nature. And since the state has only licensed 15 pharmacies, with all but one located in urban areas, rural Utah patients don’t have easy access.
In this case, it is easy to point the finger at state regulators who insist on keeping the number of licensed pharmacies as low as possible. By the way, the state has also restricted the number of grower and processor licenses it is willing to sell. By their very actions, the state is limiting access by not giving free markets the opportunity to meet demand.
Utah dispensary Beehive Farmacy, with locations in Brigham City and Salt Lake City, says the state is trying to solve the problem by encouraging home delivery. But even home delivery doesn’t reach rural areas as well as should because it is cost prohibitive.
Recreational Marijuana in New York
New York is one of the more recent states to get on the recreational marijuana bandwagon. Though legislation to that effect was passed some time ago, only now has the state gotten around to actually launching their recreational program. Marijuana equity is the hot topic in New York at the current time.
What is marijuana equity? It has a number of moving parts, the most important being the belief that underserved communities in the state don’t have access to marijuana because dispensaries don’t locate in their neighborhoods and public transport is inadequate to allow them to travel across town.
Dispensaries in Local Neighborhoods
The fact that dispensaries do not set up shop in certain neighborhoods is a reality. But is that an access issue? No. It is a supply and demand issue. Business owners set up shop where they can make the most money. That is the way business works. Solve the supply demand issue and dispensaries will come.
Public Transportation Options
Moving on to public transportation, it is true that it’s lacking in many cities in New York – particularly upstate. But the fact that customers without cars cannot utilize public transportation to travel to a dispensary is not a marijuana access problem. It is a transportation problem.
The solution in both cases is not to force business owners to locate in undesirable neighborhoods or to provide home delivery at their own expense. To force or coerce them into doing so is to deny them the freedom to run their businesses as they see fit.
A More Complicated Issue
The truth is that marijuana access is a more complicated issue than we care to admit. It is an issue caused by a variety of factors, three of which were mentioned in this post. Trying to solve access issues through social justice means doesn’t actually solve anything. It merely covers up the problems by forcing businesses to do what they otherwise would not.