One of the most inherently unjust deviations in a supposedly free society potentially occurs when government grants charters or other forms of permission for private citizens to sell products or engage in providing services in areas of enterprise where demand exceeds supply.

We saw this when liquor by the drink first was authorized in the city of Columbia and gambling casinos in the state of Missouri. Now we are seeing similar trouble on the horizon in the process being used by the state to grant permissions to grow, sell and distribute medical marijuana.

Chaos was averted in the putative local liquor bar business only when the Columbia City Council removed its initial unrealistic limitations on the number of such establishments it would authorize, which if enforced would have almost guaranteed the growth of a liquor by the drink black market. The state of Missouri may be treading on similarly thin ice as it hands out arbitrary numbers of franchises for growing and selling marijuana within its borders.

You have to give partial blame to well-meaning government do-gooders whom with best intentions wrote the language for a state constitutional amendment first authorizing medical marijuana. They limited the numbers of legally authorized traders to encourage skeptical voters to let the drug trade commence, putting off future implications until, well, the future. When future trouble arises we’ll deal with that then they thought, if they thought about it at all.

So off we go on an adventuresome path of discovery, with only two growers approved for our eight-county central Missouri area and only 60 licensed for the entire state. The reactions of applicants experiencing the variable results of this experimental new system understandably range from outright disappointment to grudging acceptance. Most seem to realize we must give it a shot to fairly judge how it works.

My hunch is before long we will realize its shortcomings and set about making changes. As with liquor by the drink and the use of marijuana in general, if we sensibly notice the need for a more libertarian treatment we will arrive at the proper role of government most quickly.


The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Author Eden Philpotts


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