With the deadline now past for applications to start a medical marijuana manufacturing facility, the public is in the dark about anything beside the number of applicants.
That’s entirely by design, entirely keeping with the Legislature’s recent habit of rolling back the public’s right to know and entirely contrary to the public interest.
When legislatures re-wrote the ballot initiative that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016, they gave the rationale that the ballot measure was fatally flawed. There were certainly problems with the measure, but lawmakers went far beyond their stated intention.
One change was they eliminated language that would have allowed home cultivation for patients who live more than 40 miles from a dispensary site. Given the fact there will be at most eight dispensaries, this was a major change.
The legislature also eliminated the ability for patients to petition to have more conditions added to the law.
Perhaps most galling to us, and also with the least ability for lawmakers to justify the change by claiming they were fixing legal problems, was a provision that made all application information for both manufacturing facilities and dispensaries confidential.
Making patient and caregiver applications confidential makes sense, and protects individual privacy. That falls in line with federal regulations.
But to do the same for manufacturing facilities and dispensaries does not protect individual privacy, nor is it required by federal law. Instead, it robs the public of any ability to judge the fairness of the application process.
The way the law is written, it’s not at all clear that any information about the manufacturing facilities or dispensaries will ever need to be made public. That would mean information about the owners or operators of manufacturing facilities or dispensaries might be confidential, which isn’t the case for any other kind of business.
Given how slowly the state has moved to enact medical marijuana, it is a cause of real concern that no mechanism was built in for public oversight.
This is another case of the government asking the public for trust but offering no way to verify whether that trust is warranted.
How can the public trust what they can’t check?