Demanding “Perfect Legalization” is a Formula for Defeat

marijuana legalizationYou don’t have to look too hard to see marijuana legalization efforts in several states that have a good chance of being approved by the voters in 2016. But many of those efforts are mired-down with competing proposals and competing proponents that could easily undermine the ability of supporters in those states to actually change public policy and end prohibition.

The inability to accept compromise in the interest of building a winning coalition threatens to turn some of these political opportunities into losing efforts. And that would be a disaster.

Specifically, different factions with different political demands are competing for control of the issue in Massachusetts, Ohio and California, three large and important states that would add enormous legitimacy and political credibility to the legalization movement, were they to approve legalization in 2016.

Click here to read the balance of this column.

59 thoughts

  1. so when will we get around to regulating and taxing the air we breathe, and why stop there lets tax both inhaling and exhaling separately. we can mandate and regulate using the bathroom too.. separate taxes for pissing and sh*tting, and a surcharge for vomiting…

    It was dubbed weed because it grows everywhere with abandon. No one needs to regulate it, or tax it because no one needs to manufacture it the way you do alchohol or other man made drugs. it grows in the wild all over with no help it will grow over 6 foot tall and produce excellent products.

    the tomato theory is kinda right when it (kinda) says “either its a drug or its an herb”.

    just drop it and let people do what they want with it. what is so hard about that.. oh yeah.. mankind’s desire for wealth, power, and control of others.

    Those are the real driving forces behind prohibition of both alcohol in its day and with green in today’s world.

  2. @ Darrell,

    With due respect, yours are entirely “slippery slope” arguments. The prohibitionist equivalence would be to ask, “Why stop with marijuana legalization? Why not just hand out acid to all the school kids?” Or, “Why not just teach those kids how to cook up their own heroine?”

    You may or may not have legitimate gripes about weed and taxation, but using ridiculous arguments does not help your argument.

  3. @Darrel;

    Taxing cannabis is better than prohibition. If we dont tax recreationally, there will be no representatives in Congress that will prevent prohibition from happening just to cover the inflated csmpaign costs of our American Plutocracy. The revenue from fairly taxed recreational and industrial cannabis can subsidize medicinal cannabis and fund public education. This is already happening in Colorado.

    Feral hemp grows wild and unless hybridized, remains generally too low in THC to be taxed for the sale of any recreational quality. Industrial hemp contains less than %1 THC, grows tall and hardy, and is produced mainly for its celulosic fiber and protein. To the contrary, Psychoactive varieties of marijuana have to be protected from all kinds of pests and hungry foragers from mice to men, (especially any creature with an endocannabinoid system). There is a significant amount of attention and maintenence required to produce quality medicinal or recreational outdoor cannabis. It grows lower than hemp and is pruned often to produce more buds.

    It’s not the same utility; in a similar manner that you don’t use a chihuahua for an attack dog or carry a German Shepard in some gay little dog purse.
    I’ts incredible to admit that the C.S.Act still doesn’t distinguish hemp from marijuana.

  4. Have to disagree with you on the Ohio proposal, Keith. Now that details are coming out, in reality this is a legal cartel. As much as I supprt leglaization, I cannot support a measure that codifies a constitutional oligopoly into law.

    If this measure passes, the black market will instead flourish as always. With production – and the resulting price controlled by a handful of heavily invested suppliers, an instant arbitrage comes into play, whereby black marketeers can simply undercut the artificially high price.

    If history has taught us anything, it’s that ignoring free market principles hurts everyone, enriches and empowers a few, and mightily so.

    This is a very bad proposal, broader goals notwithstang.

    [Editor’s note: “This is a very bad proposal, broader goals notwithstang [sic]” True enough, but is prohibition really better for consumers than not allowing limited distribution? Aren’t arrests and incarceration far worse than paying taxes on cannabis sold legally by cartels? Is it not easier to argue for more consumer access post prohibition as tax paying consumer-constituents than aggrieved ‘criminals’?

    Much the same thing happened at the end of alcohol prohibition, where limited distributor licenses were issued, effectively creating an alcohol cartel. With consumer demands over the years for more access and variety of product, alcohol products are widely available in the US, in many different forms.

    In time, same too with cannabis (as well as allowing non-commercial home production).]

  5. Those are fair and cogent arguments. And I agree that some form of legalization is usually better than none. However, on this particular measure I still fall on the side of no, even when carefully considering those questions.

    We don’t have the ‘luxury’ of a widely used substance, that was suddenly banned for a decade or so and then reversed. With cannabis we have longstanding prohibition with deeply ingrained belief systems about those involved, whether dealers or users. The perception is, right or wrong, that dealers will try to corner a legal market.

    Two of the best tools activists have in this issue are transparence and integrity. This sort of activity smacks of unethical behavior, and risks staining all activists. I’m very much a pragmatist like you, and support the legalization measures that have passed so far. But this one just doesn’t pass the smell test, and the locals near these proposed growing sites are already digging in their heels before it’s even on the ballot.

    There’s also the recent context of how legalized gambling was established in the state, using exactly the same tactics. Many Ohioans have a bitter taste over that, and are using that experience as reference.

    So on balance – at least in my assessment – this one is over the line. I deeply admire what you’ve done for America. But I *respectfully* disagree.

    [Editor’s note: Absent placing an initiative on the OH ballot more to your specific liking, if the currently proposed one in OH fails because folks like you don’t support it and/or vote against…when your friends and you get busted for cannabis in the state, please don’t contact NORML looking for a lawyer or legal help.]

  6. Wow, nasty response. Sorry my opinions are so offensive. Never meant to, was just putting it out there for discussion, because, well, open dialogue and all of that. It’s their measure and the citizen’s prerogative. I guess I will have to take my chances now I’ve offended NORML with rational thought. I’m out.

    [Editor’s note: Nasty is what happens when a citizen gets busted under cannabis prohibition.]

  7. I agree with nobody special. If it’s constitutionally limited 10 growers, it’ll takeanother amendment to stop that and allow private growing.and these are the kind of people that would run smear campaigns just to keep their control

  8. ResponsibleOhio’s oppressive amendment is not based on social justice, it designed to keep market share and oppress small growers.

    What happens when u re-classify Marijuana as: “any part of the plant including seeds, stems, and roots”?

    What happens when you impose mandatory state liscensing for a maximum 4 plants?

    What happens when you classify smoking weed with anyone under 21 as child endangerment?

    BINGO – More people goto jail, while ResponsibleOhio’s constitutionally protected system ensures them laughing all the way to the bank, we mind you – The Only Legal revenue produced from cultivation.

    Get with it, Keith. There are other amendments Ohioans need to wake up to.

    [Editor’s note: Welcome to cannabis legalization absent consumers organizing to pass alternatives. Ohioans who want cannabis legalized only had the last 50 years or so to place initiatives on the ballot or effectively lobby their elected members.

    But they’ve not. No medical reform. No hemp reform. No legalization.

    Looks like ‘social justice’ was not a compelling reason for citizens in the state to reform the laws. However, when groups do organize capital and citizens successfully to place cannabis law reform measures on the ballot–for whatever motivations they possess be them commercial or altruistic–cannabis law reform groups, including NORML, are going to be supportive, not oppositional.

    No legalization initiative ever has been or probably ever will be ideal, but, once they make the ballot (and there are no better similar proposals that qualify) NORML is going to support them because they end cannabis prohibition and replace with alternative public policies that are similar, and have restrictions, to other adult-oriented commerce like alcohol consumption, gambling, strip clubs, guns, etc…]

Leave a Reply