Last week I wrote: Can “Corporate” Cannabis Coexist with “Legacy,” or “Traditional” Cannabis? (Part I) This is Part 2, and the conclusion.
Is Corporate Cannabis worse than prohibition?
However, we’ve come too far and fought too hard to give in and allow Chad and Thad or anti-cannabis lawmakers to try to run stuff, set up (more) regulatory capture, and directly or indirectly pump the streets with boof … or otherwise try to s#!t on those who came before and risked much more than they or I ever have or will.
A Few Examples:
Barriers to entry, local bans, and excessive taxes, are to blame for a lot of their issues. People often prefer tax-free cannabis, directly from the farmer. I don’t blame them.
The massive and increasing amount of corporate grows flooding the markets with substandard quality, low-cost boof, is not helping small farmer’s prices, that is also for sure.
Additionally, other states and the federal government’s archaically slow movement towards legalization is only helping the “illegal” trade of Cannabis; meanwhile, it hurts small businesses.
The only winner in situations such as California’s, are the state and local governments collecting tax money, essentially extorting their own people- with cannabis as the method.
Cannabis licensing has very low barriers to entry, no license caps, or even local bans; it is ‘similar-ish’ to California in its earlier days in some ways. Yes, the market is saturated, and yes, there are some larger companies racing for the bottom line.
But, there are options for patients, there is homegrow.. and if you think your meds are better than their boof, you can legally get a license and compete. Unfortunately, most states and the federal government seem to favor “big.“
Here in OK, the issues often stem from temporary oversupply, the police being police, other states’ failures, and lack of action, coupled with regulators and industry outsiders trying to add restrictions, cap licenses, and other harmful legislation.
Many of the individuals creating rules for Oklahoma’s cannabis program have been outspoken against cannabis in general.
The solution is not to attempt to get stricter.
Going backward is not the answer.
A forced vertical integration state, meaning the select few licensed operators must grow their own, process their own, have their own dispensaries, and can’t even use third-party online ordering software.
What is worse than forced vertical and broken promises?
No opportunities for small businesses, BIPOC, veterans, or legacy operators, license caps, no homegrow, low patient possession limits, strict and excessive packaging requirements, and local bans.
Florida’s program consists of just 22 licensed vertical companies, many owned by MSOs, with only 17 of them even selling any products. This is for over +615,000 patients, at the time of publishing.
Gov. Desantis labeled Florida’s program a “Cartel,” though according to Orlando Weekly, he’d later walk back his opposition and allow it to continue.
Many patients ditch the legal market in Florida, not dissimilar to… well… every state.
What is one thing happening in all states?
People still getting locked up for plants.
Unfortunately, it is common in most states to have biased, anti-cannabis people make the rules for all of us to follow.
What must be tough for those against “free cannabis” to understand is that if more states had better cannabis laws – as in no licenses caps or arbitrary requirements – then no one would be able to make a profit off unlicensed cannabis.
The market for unlicensed cannabis would shrink, as long as those harmed by the war on drugs were afforded a legitimate opportunity to go legal.
Unfortunately, the current state of Cannabis Laws is highly illogical and “unnecessary.”
This patchwork of laws makes the same pound of cannabis cost vastly different in different places.
And no, Metrc and other track and trace systems do not necessarily stop or even prevent this…
In my opinion, these systems have loopholes that allow “diversion,” and do little more than add steps and costs for the honest to follow.
This naturally incentives individuals and groups to embrace arbitrage.
Again, this ain’t new.
Even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas agrees: “A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.”
Yet, states will do illogical things, especially with backing from Corporate Cannabis Chads and their lobbyist.
I’m looking at you, MidMen, or whatever other names you have “rebranded” to this time.
..and the number of other corporate cannabis companies that have and continue to lobby against homegrow and for high barriers to entry.
Here’s How it Unnecessarily “Works,”
States decide they will “safely regulate cannabis,” this usually starts from citizen ballot initiative or legislative action, but more realistically, what the states decide is that they will now profit off the taxes, regardless of how the industry and patients or consumers will fare.
This is of course after decades of prohibition and already knowing what excessively regulated cannabis programs turn out to be.
But, hey, it creates some jobs and tax revenue?
Pretty Chad of them, right?
In many places, like California, the taxes and barriers to legally enter the industry are high, so many forgo licensing altogether.
Now they are taking on the risk of arrest or financial sanctions in many cases; however, it is often worth it for them— especially considering the difference in taxes and barriers to entry.
Meanwhile, some types of licenses are attainable and ripe for exploitation.. as long as you pay up your protection, I mean extortion.. uhh… I meant taxes and licensing fees.
Then, like a “whistleblower” alleged in this Leafy Article, those who can find a way around the rules to exploit the system will often do so.
The article referenced alleges that individuals or groups get licenses to process or distribute Cannabis only with the intent of selling it outside of licensed and taxed channels.
“Burner Licenses” are nothing new, and neither is regulatory capture.
Can anyone blame them for breaking unjust laws?
The status quo leads to situations like the predictable events in California and Oklahoma playing out.
So, what’s the answer? Should regulations and enforcement ramp up to tamp out the unlicensed or untaxed sales?
I don’t think so.
I propose the opposite solution.
Rather than pander to Chad and Thad, or allow the state to generate even more suffering, potential injury or death, and ultimately revenue for themselves through increased regulatory or enforcement action?
Instead, I say we loosen the regulations burdening currently legally operating dispensaries and open the door for others to become legal through lower barriers to entry and lower taxes.
Real competition is the way. And competition can’t legally happen until there is a level playing field unencumbered by over-regulated states and states still without legalization.
We also need legal interstate commerce to answer the East Coast’s demand for the West Coast’s weed… Because, as we know, “supply always finds a way.”
Haven’t we already tried the prohibition of “unlicensed” or “illegal” Cannabis?
So, where has that gotten us?
In many cases, we end close to where we started. That’s what happens with so many initiatives that take one step forward and two steps back, like what we see happen in states that rush legalization for profits over patients.
If only the privileged can get a license, then everyone else is not much better off.
If people continue to get put in jail and prison for use, possession, or cultivation of a plant, then we aren’t much better off.
So, can “Corporate” Cannabis Coexist with “Legacy,” or “Traditional” Cannabis?
Fortunately, it is not a binary, “either-or,” situation or outcome.
We can and will coexist, and we the people will continue the grassroots efforts that the giants before us started.
We aren’t forced to choose only one or the other.
So, what do we do?
We don’t sell out.
We hold these Mother @#$%ers accountable.
We ask hard questions, make demands, and hold Chad and Thad to their words.
When Corporate Cannabis says they stand for equity and giving back, let’s accept nothing less.
And no, I’m not talking about the disaster of “equity” we see in places like California, Illinois, Florida, or Massachusetts, each with its own version of inadequacy.
I mean people of all types having legitimate opportunities to be successful; not a license or minimal funding to operate in a system designed to fail for the many, and only benefit the few.
When corporate Cannabis says they stand for access to plant medicine and access to enter the industry, repairing harms from the war on drugs, let’s demand they be specific and hold them to it.
Let’s demand better, and refuse to work with any companies or individuals who do not stand by what is right.
That’s how we can “coexist.”
You can read more from Alex Popoff HERE
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