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Letter: Marijuana plan could go up in smoke


I read with interest the excellent article by Ashley Fitzpatrick on the Newfoundland and Labrador dime bag, Dec. 8 (“No dime bag: N.L. does deal for marijuana supply”).
Government spending remains out of control. Already in place and showing no sign of restraint:

  1. Memorial University has been growing since inception and accepts no boundaries on how big it should get. Already overcapacity for the needs of Newfoundlanders, the taxpayer subsidies that Memorial receives are no longer sustainable.
  2. Muskrat Falls, similar to MUN, designed to overcapacity and justified by an expectation of profitable out-of-province sales. Those sales will be discounted due to strong and growing competition.
  3. The latest project, a marijuana farm. We could buy marijuana, without strings, cheaply from any large Canadian commercial grower to make a lot of money to pay against the public debt. Or, we could get a company to come in and build a $40-million greenhouse. Then we subside the greenhouse until it recoups, we hope, its investment at public risk. We stretch remaining revenues to deal with the new costs of dealing with managing legalized pot.

The company has promised $1 million in research and development. It makes a good sound bite, but is only $100,000 per year for 10 years on a $40-million investment. Any business this size would spend more to improve efficiency and to counter competition. A hundred thousand dollars per year on research is a pittance in an industry already dominated by large, established players.

The sorry sales pitch is that “Newfoundland” is such a great brand that worldwide sales would be huge, and therefore justifies a huge facility to grow 12,000 kilograms of pot per year. It “Sprung” to my mind that we once had a similar plan to sell cucumbers.

There will be ongoing jobs for operational staff, yet, the bulk, the significant construction jobs, are at best short-term, further enriching established provincial contractors and adding to long-term debt. Even the ongoing jobs will only last if our investments prove to be sustainable — unlikely, given the weak financial analysis so far presented.

One improvement would be to disallow contractors and other businesses to be key political contributors. Another would be to have MUN justify the key academic disciplines it should continue and which to cut. I’m not saying we should restrict academic freedom, just impose prudent financial restraint and accountability. Finally cut the new greenhouse nonsense. Really.

Let’s focus on the principle of governing “for the people.”

Randolph Crocker, MBA

St. John’s



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