We honor those who serve, especially those who sacrifice—firefighters, search and rescue teams, blood drive workers, volunteer groups, military and veterans. We celebrate them with photos and articles, dinners and parades. We thank them. We’re glad to know them. We encourage our young folks to follow their example.
We honor them because service is hard. Self-interest comes naturally, but self-sacrifice stirs hope and admiration. Generosity costs: discomfort, exhaustion, finances, time, lost opportunities. Those who sacrifice set self-interest aside.
We dress self-interest as generosity, but it still doesn’t smell right. Self-interest, when it disregards others’ good, infects whole industries. Self-interest infects the cannabis industry at every level. Its “compassion” for the suffering would smell better if were matched by a history of improving communities. Growers of “medical marijuana” reap high profits from sales of product exceeding the “needs” of clients. They shield themselves with the name “caregivers” but flaunt its legal requirements, providing those in their “care” neither housing nor basic day-to-day needs. Unbridled profit loosens restraints on self-interest.
When we sniff self-interest we “follow the money.” We noticed proponents of Prop 64 outspent opponents 12-to-1. We noticed a Cannabis Working Group comprised mostly of industry professionals—special interest dressed as a public trust. We notice growers working every angle to justify an industry that has hurt many communities. All over the state, speculators bend, break or remake laws; they re-brand their self-interest as generosity: “Med-men,” “compassionate use,” “medicine for veterans,” “local jobs.” The smell of self-interest lingers.
The speculator/activists sponsoring a voters’ initiative here would profit enormously. Even in county government, cannabis profits may already be motivating public policy decisions by some while threatening the common good. The cannabis industry smells like self-interest. Let’s clear the air for an honorable public life.