Riff Raff: A burning bush, Jan and Andy, and the United States of Acquisitions

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 544 views 

Much paperwork has been involved in this ongoing Charlie Foxtrot to implement medical marijuana use in Arkansas. Unfortunately, none of the paper is of the rolling variety. Not sure if this level of implementation ineptitude was accidental or deliberate, but either way it gives a new meaning to the term “reefer madness.”

• Is medical marijuana ever gonna become available in Arkansas? Considering this Passover/Easter period, it would be nice to be rescued from these alleged medical marijuana pyramid-scheme builders by another Moses. Now therrrrrrre’s a guy who knew how to take instruction from a burning bush.

“Let my people smoke.”

Considering afterward that Moses would need brother Aaron to speak for him, Moses had maybe too much burning bush.

Okay, referring to medical marijuana commissioners as pyramid-scheme builders is a little harsh. Maybe a lot. But it was prefaced by “alleged.” A lawyer on the commission is connected with one of the five groups who received a license. A former Arkansas Attorney General representing big-money folks received one of the licenses. Well, that’s not so much an allegation as it is a revelation. Lawsuits and complaints including other allegations were beginning to pile up like disappointments halfway through a Razorback football season. Also, the medical marijuana commission’s scoring process made the superficial and subjective and silly “Project Runway” judging look like Phythagorean Theorem calculations.

And by “received a license,” I mean licenses technically granted prior to the whole thing being shut down by a Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge who gave the process a big “null and void” face splash with dirty bong water. Those folks eager to get in on the bottom of the medical marijuana pyramid are now on hold, and maybe also looking for a Moses.

“Let my people grow.”

The sad thing is more than 4,600 Arkansans signed up to receive proven and much-needed relief via medical marijuana must wait more months for the alleged smart kids in the class to unFoxtrot this mess. That number surges once – or if – this process is resolved. Why go through the trouble to get a doctor’s note if the process is approved sometime before the next Halley’s Comet?

No faith may exist in the exodus of this captive marijuana industry unless a complete do-over and a lottery system or some other process is used that ensures licenses are granted to business-certified professionals rather than business-connected politicians.

“Let my people know.”

• A guilty pleasure confessional: I kind of like Jan Morgan. She’s running against Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the GOP primary for the state’s top elected position.

The pleasure is 99% enjoying the status quo squirm. When not having a dog in the fight, it’s fun to root for the underdog. To be sure, the big dogs are perky-eared, head to one side, sitting up, wondering how many more growlers this barking dog may bring to the Capitol porch.

But the pleasure is short-lived. This ain’t college basketball, Olympic curling or the 151st time to watch “Shawshank Redemption.” There is no evil warden, and we don’t need to see Andy handled by The Sisters. This is about leadership. Good choices. Good government. Better government. (However, feel free to draw your own analogies to Arkansas politics and what Andy crawled through to escape Shawshank.)

Jan Morgan will get at least 40% of the primary vote. At least. More if Gov. Hutchinson suffers a political or personal hiccup before May 22.

She motivates the Trump base. The folks who still believe Donald will get Mexico to pay for the wall will believe Jan Morgan’s claim that Arkansas Works (the Arkansas Republican version of Obamacare) will in just a few years bankrupt the state. The folks who still believe Donald is a fine upstanding Christian man will believe Jan Morgan about dramatically cutting taxes once she re-captures all the money within a state government overrun with fraud, waste and abuse.

The folks who believe Donald will tackle the national deficit will believe Jan Morgan’s claims we can afford deep tax cuts while also investing in education, healthcare and highways. (See exhibits A and B: Kansas and Oklahoma.)

The folks who still believe Donald will end corruption and drain the D.C. swamp will believe Jan Morgan’s claim that she will require the Legislature to install video cameras in all committee rooms. (Nevermind that the Legislature is a separate, co-equal branch of government that can tell a governor where he or she should stick the cameras.)

As an Arkansan who grew up when all we Republicans had were John Paul, Mr. Bethune, and Miss Ada, I want to like Jan Morgan. Seriously. Arkansas will be a better state when candidates of all parties come to the table with ideas based on realities and research rather than promises borne of hollow platitudes. The Arkansas GOP would be better served with more small-government Rockefellers focused on equal access to economic opportunity. Bending civil liberties to enforce evangelical views (10 Commandments on Capitol grounds) and to narrow the voting pool (the new voter ID law) were not on the to-do list of the Republican Party that preceded what is now the Arkansas Republican Party.

But Jan Morgan is likable. It’s easy to see why she does well with the Republican base. If she really wants to scare the big dogs, she should bone up on, for starters, what a governor can and can’t do; how little wiggle room there is in the state budget once you pay for schools and colleges, human services (healthcare), and crime and punishment; and how local property tax rates are set.

• It’s just a matter of time. Healthcare companies are buying pharmacy benefit administration companies. Retailers are buying health insurance companies. Some retailers are working on a space program. Horizontal and vertical mergers are just short of daily headlines. Announced merger and acquisition deals hit a record $1.2 trillion in the first quarter of 2018. That’s a deal value of $13.33 billion a day.

It’s just a matter of time before 95% of Americans are employed by the military, a federal, state or local government/agency, one of the many NASCAR teams, or one of two remaining companies.

Not sure if the remaining companies will be FedUPS, McStarbucks, Amazart, or Walmazon. Hope one of the remaining operations will sell the bacon cheeseburger pizza now sold at Casey’s General Store. Especially if that medical marijuana becomes available.

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