I wrote the following analysis for my business ethics course. I plan on posting my journal assignments every Thursday night.
When there are conflicting laws covering the same geographical territory, it can be hard for people to make plans. In can be hard for people to know if something is legal or not. And it might soon be much harder for Californians with medical marijuana cards to purchase marijuana products.
The Department of Justice has notified over 16 medical marijuana dispensaries in California they are in violation of federal law and the DoJ has threatened to shut them down and seize their assets. The marijuana dispensaries are complying with California state law but are violating federal law, and this has led to a conflict.
There are four major stakeholders: marijuana users, marijuana producers, Californians, and the Department of Justice.
If the DoJ closes the dispensaries, marijuana users are unquestionably harmed. Marijuana users contain two overlapping groups: medicinal users and recreational users. For all intents and purposes, the California law allows both groups to safely purchase marijuana. It will become harder for them to do so.
Marijuana producers are also harmed. They will lose millions in profits and have to come up with new, potentially illegal, business models.
Californians are losing their ability to make their own drug laws. In 1996 Proposition 215 legalized these dispensaries and the Department of Justice is saying federal drug laws supersede this law. This dispensary crackdown would be a big setback to autonomous state drug policy.
The winners are our friendly overlords at the Department of Justice. Their goal is to use taxpayers’ money to stop adults from using marijuana, and with their coercive power they just might succeed.