OPED: NYC Dispensary Shooting Outlines the Need for Federal Change

Adam Melnyk / shutterstock.com
Adam Melnyk / shutterstock.com

With marijuana currently listed as a Schedule I narcotic, there is little to no federal forgiveness or understanding for growing, selling, buying, or using this plant. Yet, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has largely taken a “hands-off” approach to state legal operations. Be that medicinal or recreational, the feds make no differentiation. This means these operations are not eligible for federal tax breaks but are expected to lay into them. It also means they cannot use most regular banks or accept credit cards.

As an all-cash business, marijuana is capable of becoming full of corruption, fraud, and abuse of income. Money laundering, tax evasion, and misleading income are just some of the federal crimes these companies risk daily because of their status. Muck like this, but on an in-person basis, these companies and their dispensaries are ripe for criminal activity like armed robbery, and that’s what happened on November 7th/8th.

Top Shelf Dispensary in the Bronx, NYC, was frequented by 23-year-old Romel Carey around 11:40 p.m. on the 7th. Producing a pistol, the clerk drew down with his own, and Carey ran out the door without incident. A little over a half hour later, around 12:20 a.m. on the 8th, Carey decided to try his luck again.

According to WABC-TV, which got exclusive surveillance footage of the robbery, he stepped in, fixed his mask, and ran out after being shot in the head and collapsed on the floor, where he died. Now Carey is facing charges for shooting the unnamed individual. Previously run as a bodega/bakery, it had only been a dispensary for the last month or so, according to locals.

Making operations cash-based like this is incredibly ignorant on the part of the federal government. The level of risk this poses for everyone by doing this is enormous. People should be able to pay securely by credit or debit card. Shops should not be forced to carry so much cash, and putting it in the bank should be easy and fully legal.

Colorado, California, Alaska, and other pioneering states have shown us just how lucrative legalization can be for the state if done correctly. Even the wild-west style market in Maine is producing solid revenue for the state. While a race to the bottom is natural in these markets, they are quickly snuffed out by quality products. With a major base who will pay premium prices for premium products in the legal environment, this is a source of untapped revenue that could restore the economy.

When prohibition ended, the US saw a boon of new people who wanted to try their moonshine roots out by making legal booze in a proper distillery. Much the same, they had a rush to the bottom, and within a few years, the trash production was largely gone. The black market was all but eliminated due to the availability of quality booze, and people started consuming responsibly.

That’s the future with legal recreational marijuana in the US if we do things correctly. Eliminating restrictions on how much people can purchase is the first step. Much like whiskey and wine collectors, some are willing to buy out a case of products for long-term use or storage. Let them. Unlike booze, it has a shelf life and doesn’t age well.

Secondly, tax the product. Not at every step of the way, either. Tax it at the end stage, and charge a solid license tax for the producer, refiner, and end points of sale. Keep records, and make each step have a license to sell in whole or part.

Third, Keep it clean and pure, don’t dilute the pool with pharmaceutical or other company involvements. Much like hormone and antibiotic chickens just taste better and make better meat, natural marijuana is better for the body and mind.

While there is no need to eliminate big companies. Just like booze needs Budweiser, Coors, Jack Daniels, and Jose Cuervo’s to keep competition and have a consistent product, marijuana will need its Trulieve and Curaleaf companies. Small craft breweries and distilleries offer tours and special products, just like small craft farms can offer marijuana.

It’s 2023, and this is a major source of revenue we are leaving behind. It’s time for the conservative party to eliminate this source of crime that only funds terrorism, cartels, and gangs so we can run it cleanly. Let’s make the damn change.