Letter to the Editor: If legalized, NYS needs careful regulation of THC

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NYS seems to be on the road to legalizing “marijuana.” However, the reality is that it will (in effect) actually legalize THC which is the active component of the marijuana plant used recreationally. The risk is that commercial corporations will market THC in forms and concentrations far beyond what is prudent for public health and beyond what has been studied medically. Like “big tobacco” these corporations will likely stay within the law but, in effect, market to our children and young adults in their aggressive pursuit of profit. Should NYS legalize THC, it should follow the pattern of legalization of alcohol. The product must be regulated in form, concentration, and packaging. Marketing practices and advertising, in particular, must be regulated. To do less is to invite corporations to once again prey upon our people.

Dr. William Klepack, Medical Director

Tompkins County Health Department

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Russ Nelson

I fear that the good Doctor's recommendations will backfire on him. You see, when you regulate businesses, that imposes a fixed cost on them. Big businesses, the ones Dr. Klepack fears, can absorb this cost across more sales than smaller businesses. Yet it is the smaller businesses which keep the big businesses in check by competing with them in a variety of ways. Worse, these ways of competing come in exactly what Klepack wants to stop: form, concentration, and packaging, marketing practices and advertising. It is competition that keep big businesses under our thumb, not regulation. Regulators can be bought. Regulators can come from the businesses being regulated, or go to those businesses once the regulations have been written. There is a principle called "bootleggers and Baptists" where the bootleggers want to keep competition down, and the Baptists want to ALSO reduce the amount of liquor available for sale. You might be surprised that these two parties have similar interests, but they do. Dr. Klepack, while he doesn't want to, has the same interests as the big businesses: reducing the amount of cannabis on the market which will keep profits in the pockets of big business.

No. We need to deregulate, decriminalize, and otherwise not regulate in any way cannabis. Let the market regulate it. The market regulates nearly everything else, why not let it regulate THC? It's not like the war on drugs has done a particularly good job of regulating THC so far, why would slightly less regulation be any better?

Monday, February 11