There are some in CA moving to put an initiative that attempts to regulate the medical cannabis industry on the ballot. I think this is a mistake. I think we are better off taking our shot with adult use in a Presidential election year, versus attempting to appease the Feds and law enforcement with some restrictive regulatory scheme that would essentially put most mom and pop organizations out of business, and unable to compete in a strictly licensed system with the security and operational requirements that comes with that. But that is not the reason I think this is a bad idea…I think it is a bad idea because we will essentially be giving a forum to put the entire medical cannabis system on trial and give our opposition an opportunity to campaign against every abuse and bad behavior the movement has had since its inception.
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By putting forth a medical cannabis regulatory initiative we will be playing into the hands of the California Police Chief’s Association and every other opposing group who thinks this industry is a “sham.” They will write long op-eds on how MOST patients are not sick and there will be statistics on how young all of the patients are. There will be a replay of every criminal activity that has ever happened in the industry and a call, not for more regulation, but a call for the END of the medical cannabis system as we know it. I believe that this will be a huge mistake and one that will completely backfire. Those who oppose medical cannabis will be able to attack the “legitimization” of an industry that many in the community see as out of control. There will be images of sexy nurses and outlandish advertising to prove the point that our “medical” system is not medical at all and that the voters should in no way embrace legitimizing an industry so wrought with abuse. We will get crushed.
And if you think Prop. 19 losing was a wake up call to law enforcement, after voters reject furthering the medical cannabis industry you can expect every DA and Sheriff who opposes cannabis to give you a big fat “I TOLD YOU SO,” and enforcement actions on patients and providers WILL increase.
Not to mention, I see an initiative to regulate the medical cannabis industry as EXPANDING PROHIBITION. If we throw a red meat initiative on the ballot that attempts to “control” the industry more, does that in turn mean less patients will qualify to use cannabis? To grow cannabis? To make cannabis-based products for fellow patients? YES. It most certainly does. So, in essence, we are rolling back our freedoms in an effort to appease those who will NEVER be appeased. It is silly when you think about it in those terms and I do not think it will be effective in curbing Federal enforcement actions one bit.
This is a regulatory system that could be passed through the legislature. If we promoted a system that removes tens of thousands of people from being eligible for medical cannabis, severely limits who can grow and produce what, and put in place strict regulations on every aspect of the industry I think it would pass overwhelmingly in the legislature. The CA State legislature does not like medical cannabis right now because they all feel they were lied to and that the system is a farce. If we sold this regulatory system as a bad thing for medical cannabis the legislature would pass it overwhelmingly, no doubt.
But instead we want to spend time, energy, and resources putting forth an initiative that will put the entire medical system on trial in the court of public opinion? Why? We would be much better off putting forth an initiative that framed the argument for adult enjoyable use and made the case that this would help solve the abuses in the medical system. The people and authorities are not upset because they think dispensaries do not have enough licensing or regulation…they are upset because they feel they have been lied to. The number one statement I hear from City Council meeting to City Council meeting and local blog to local blog is “I am not against legalization, but these people pretending to be sick to use pot is a slap in the face.” That is what we are up against, and I do not think that an initiative that legitimized dispensaries and licensed producers would change the fact that people do not think most of us are “seriously ill.”
I do think that legalization of cannabis will likely have to be passed in a Presidential election year, so if we pass on 2012 in favor of the “duck and cover” medical regulation initiative that we are doomed to being criminals until 2016. That is sad to me. I may as well move to Portugal.
I can not in good conscious support an effort to roll back cannabis freedoms in CA to placate attacks from law enforcement. I believe that is short-sighted and if one thinks that this initiative will all of the sudden have LA County DA Steve Cooley or Butte County DA Mike Ramsey accepting of our cause and allowing for medical cannabis in their counties, I have a bridge to sell you in Florida. It is just not going to happen. And in the meantime they will use the opportunity to beat Joe Public over the head with stories about what massive abuses the medical cannabis industry is full of and why we should all be shut down and thrown in jail for our perceived indiscretions. It is a losing battle.
If you want to make CA safer for medical cannabis and cannabis altogether then pass an adult use initiative. Anything less is just a concession I am not willing to make.