Rumors of federal cannabis legalization here in the US seem like more of a pipe dream with each passing day as it becomes more apparent that their interest is in the pharmaceutical bastardization of cannabis, rather than in the plant itself.
This leaves cannabis reform to individual states, as we have seen 1/5th of the country legalize the recreational adult use of marijuana just since 2014.
As impressive as that is, the remaining 80% of the country is still dealing with a patchwork of unique medical marijuana laws or outright cannabis prohibition. As these states look to the future, with the benefit of watching those that blazed the trail before them, there are some fundamental planks that we believe must form the foundation for any effective and thorough cannabis reform.
The very act of reform requires a look back at the past in order to improve upon it. How can we call this progress if we leave behind the very worst legacy of the failed War on Drugs?
We have seen individual cities, like Denver, San Fran, and Seattle, pass expungement measures on their own local level, and we applaud those efforts, but this language must be included in any truly comprehensive statewide cannabis reform bill from here on out.
Cannabis-related misdemeanor charges should be dropped / omitted / expunged completely from everyone’s records in a state looking to legalize weed. Most felonies, once reviewed on a case-by-case basis, should also be totally erased.
These two moves alone would have a major beneficial economic impact in these states as tens of thousands of good people who happen to like weed will be able to get better jobs, afford better housing, and participate in democracy.
Not to mention. . . it’s the fair thing to do.
But, we cannot forget our brothers and sisters still locked up for this plant.
The ones doing hard time, or life, for a victimless crime that is now a multibillion dollar legal industry.
First and foremost, cannabis reform starts here.
2. HOME CULTIVATION
This is probably the main aspect of the cannabis plant that has kept it illegal for so long – the fact that anyone can grow it in their backyard.
It is awfully hard for the profiteers in our government to stick their grubby hands into every homegrow in America, but it is awfully easy for them to keep it taboo at best, and illegal in too many cases.
We are now seeing lawsuits by weed-hating prohibitionists complaining of the aroma of cannabis being grown outdoors. So many plants in this world, with so many different aromas, yet courts across the country are wasting time on this frivolous nonsense.
While it is better than an outright ban, some counties in California for example have gone so far as to demand that homegrown cannabis only be cultivated indoors.
For the 40 states still looking to legalize the adult use of cannabis, not only must your law allow for limited home cultivation – indoor or out – but it must also offer blanket protection against local citywide or countywide bans on home growing.
As cannabis becomes more of a commodity, and as corporate-grown mids continue to flood the shelves of dispensaries in legal markets, the right to grow your own weed will become more valuable than ever in the years to come.
3. PUBLIC CONSUMPTION
Bongloads at the beach may not ever be a legal thing, but one concept that is often forgotten in a state’s rush to reform is the public consumption of cannabis.
The problem is magnified in a tourist destination like Las Vegas, where the adult use of cannabis is now totally legal with the world’s largest dispensary in town and weed ads plastered on taxi cabs.
What’s the problem, you ask?
There is nowhere to smoke it!
Hotels still totally frown upon it, even in designated smoking rooms or balconies. Casinos, bars, and nightclubs also have zero tolerance policy on pot.
So, unless you know someone who lives in town, you’re probably sneaking around the Strip getting ripped. That’s cool and all until a pot-hating cop rolls up and all bets are off.
Sadly, this is the case in virtually all legal cannabis markets in the US.
You can buy it, but unless you own your house, you may have a hard time finding a place to safely smoke it.
This needs to change.
One way to institute the change quickly and clearly is that anywhere that smoking cigars, cigarettes, or vape pens is legal or allowed would then be a cannabis-friendly zone as well.
Nobody in their right mind can tell you that secondhand cannabis smoke is more offensive or more harmful than secondhand tobacco smoke.
Taking it a step further, language should be included in any new cannabis legalization measure to make it legal, and easy, to open a public indoor cannabis smoking and dabbing lounge. A space for adults, located anywhere you may expect a bar or social club building, where no cannabis is sold onsite but consumption is safely allowed.
Want weed off the streets? This is literally how you do it.
3a. MOTORIST RIGHTS
No, we are not interested in treating cannabis like alcohol, especially when it comes to driving.
An average of 28 people die EVERY DAY in drunk driving accidents.
Cannabis is, undeniably, safer than lettuce.
Can someone overdo it with weed and fall asleep at the wheel or make a poor decision? Yes, same as if they overdo it with pasta, but it’s very rare.
When you cut out the dingbats over at the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, virtually every study completed on “stoned” driving proves that when you legalize weed, the roads get safer.
More studies show that drivers under the influence of cannabis are, in most cases, more cautious and not the danger behind the wheel that forms the roots of every pot prohibitionist’s argument against legalization.
Companies are being funded to the tune of millions of dollars trying to perfect the so-far-unperfectable cannabis breathalyzer so that police departments in legal cannabis markets don’t have to, you know, go fight actual crimes.
We must oppose any measure whatsoever to allow the implementation of roadside cannabis DUI tests, or drug interdiction checkpoints.
Any device calibration or baseline numbers that they try to assign to “cannabis intoxication” will hardly apply from person to person as tolerance levels, type of cannabis consumed, and so many other variables come into play that this technology will never be reliable.
While we do not expect to see language explicitly protecting weed-loving drivers in future cannabis laws, we cannot support laws that advocate for this unjustified assault on our sovereignty.
4. SUPPLY CHAIN DIVERSITY
Let the MedMen-ravaged wasteland of the California cannabis market serve as a warning that if entry into all stops on the supply chain is not made available at an affordable and fair cost, and in a timely manner, two things will happen – the black market will thrive and the legal market will be dominated by midgrade corporate cannabis.
While politicians may not see the need for craft cannabis, we grassroots voters cannot allow the cannabis industry to follow the WalMart model.
When it comes to weed, cheaper is never better. When the cost of convenience comes at the expense of our culture, we must draw the line.
Future cannabis laws must make allowances to give small to midsize legacy operators an opportunity to get licensed and established before the large corporate raiders are allowed to enter the market.
The groundwork for this sort of legal language was laid out already in California, but was upended in the 11th hour by the efforts of a certain fedora-wearing weed-celebrity and the rest, as they say, is history.
But, it can be done, and it must be.
To further protect the entire supply chain – from the seed breeders to the retailers – real reform would include state-level banking and insurance options for anyone involved with the plant.
These commonplace services are an everyday thing for any other legal industry in these states, and they need to pick up the slack where federal laws refuse to pull their weight.
5. EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION
Talk about an issue with darts all over the board.
In many legal medical or recreational cannabis markets in the US, good people who like weed are forced to do so from the shadows in fear of losing their job or career over it.
Meanwhile, cops in Chicago are allowed to toke up on their own time so long as they show up to work sober and ready to bust potheads.
What a world we live in.
It only makes sense that if grapes are legal, and you can eat grapes and keep your job, that if cannabis is legal, you should be able to use cannabis and keep your job.
We never thought we’d say this, but look at those cops for the answer.
Can you do your job? Yes?
Then we don’t care what you do at home, as long as it is within the confines of the law.
Employers should champion this cause as it puts the policework back in the hands of the police. Novel concept, eh? Where it is legal, cannabis use is no longer a valid excuse to either refuse to hire someone, or insist on firing them.
Future adult use cannabis laws should put an end to pre-employment drug screening for cannabis use as it is just as ridiculous as screening for coffee use, or chewing tobacco use, or quite frankly grape eating.
As the stigma surrounding cannabis use goes up in smoke, some of our best and brightest are either just now showing up to the sesh or are finally coming out of the cannabis closet and their employment opportunities should not be limited by their legal use of weed.
Yeah, yeah. . . we said there would be 5 things, but one more topic that unfortunately needs to be mentioned is respecting the will of the voters.
2 out of 3 Americans want cannabis legalized, but again, we are not holding our breath for comprehensive cannabis reform at the federal level.
But when voters turn out in record numbers at the state level, as they did in Utah and Michigan this past November, and overwhelmingly vote in favor of cannabis reform, their elected officials MUST honor those votes.
It is unacceptable and unAmerican.
For years the anti-cannabis crowd screeched that marijuana is a gateway drug. What they didn’t want us to figure out is that it is a gateway drug, to democracy, and that has the powers that be incredibly scared of a little, old weed.