| G. Michael Dobbs
Across the Commonwealth as you read this hundreds of businesses – perhaps thousands – are being affected by the ban against the sale of vaping products.
If your business is strictly about vaping, essentially you are out of business for four months.
Four months without an income but with the challenge of meeting financial obligations is a burden most businesses can’t endure.
American culture is full of bad habits that can cause health issues. Junk food has led to a true health challenge. We all know what alcohol and tobacco can do. We also know that prohibiting either of those products leads to a flourishing underground and illegal economy.
So, just what is going to be accomplished by Gov. Baker’s ban?
My guess is Bay State businesses will suffer. People who vape will either head to the nearest border state or buy their supplies online.
The real issue here is what is behind the deaths of those who vape. Did they use commercially prepared cartridges or did they buy ones from a grey market source? Is the issue with products you buy from stores or those you buy from a “guy you know?”
Friends of mine have said that vaping allowed them to quit smoking. They are very concerned about what will happen to those people who now may be inclined to start smoking again.
The message seems to be the following acknowledgement: we can’t stop alcohol – we tried in simpler times and failed – we can’t stop tobacco. Could you imagine if someone suggested we eliminate high-sugar sodas?
Vaping is a young enough habit that I think people believe it can be crushed. I don’t. I think it is here to stay.
Here is a question posed by vaping advocates that I think is valid to consider: who benefits from a ban on vaping? Big Tobacco? States that have seen an increase in vaping and a decrease in tobacco sales and therefore tax revenues from those sales?
I know. It sounds a little like a tin foil hat conspiracy, but while the ban being based on deaths from vaping may be justifiable, looking at the bigger picture is also necessary.
In the next four months, a scrupulous investigation into the vaping deaths should be made to determine just what should be done. If the ban is not justified by research, then the Commonwealth should consider helping out the business owners they helped ruin.
Watching the glacier move
The news the Cannabis Control Commission wants to change the legislation to allow for cannabis cafes in “up to 12 cities” as noted by a State House News report is heartening, in a way.
Clearly the idea of a cannabis café, similar to the ones in the Netherlands, is a logical step in our process here. I hope someone has the commonsense to look at how the Netherlands handles the cafes in terms of licensing and permitting.
We in Massachusetts seem to like to reinvent the wheel when it comes to certain kinds of legislation – cannabis and casinos – that can cost us time and money as well as creating new bureaucracies that we really don’t need.
What we should be doing in the meantime is to allow the permitting of members-only cannabis lounges where cannabis can be used. Worcester has allowed one and other cities could do the same.
Members bring their own cannabis and use it there. The business makes money through memberships and the sale of food, soft beverages and accessories.
This would be an intermediary step that could allow for the creation of more small businesses.
Let’s see how fast the Commonwealth can develop the creation of cannabis cafes. Want to start a pool and pick the year this actually takes place?