The times have changed — in most places at least. While a few states still have harsh penalties for marijuana possession (avoid Arizona, Florida or Missouri if you’re a burner), pot laws have been relaxed across most of the nation. Medical marijuana provisions exist in many states and last week, citizens of Washington and Colorado voted to legalize grass for recreational use. But legalization of marijuana as dictated in the two states is a bad idea. The simple reason: Regulation and taxation is involved and you’ll see Big Pharma step right in and add marijuana to the list of drugs that it pushes.
Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. First, a disclaimer: I’m not a user. Oh, I had my dope-smoking phase long ago. Before any of my high school pals discovered the Delta Haze, I was sucking it down with my jazzbo friends on the Near North Side. But I stopped smoking marijuana before most of my peers could spell it. Still, I don’t believe anyone should be hassled, arrested or incarcerated for simply growing, using or selling marihuana. Laws like those passed in Washington and Colorado last week are the wrong way to go.
Consider what a legalized and regulated pot world would look like. Those two recent votes seek to “regulate, control and tax cannabis.” How can any free thinker who smokes pot want that to happen? Since when has giving the government more control over something ever been a good idea? This is a really bad one.
Forcing out the small producer. Bad things have already happened in California that portend the “Wal-Mart-ization” of medical marijuana. In the East Bay burg of Oakland, the city council passed the worst law since Prohibition. In July, 2010, they paved the way for what amounts to the ConAgra of marijuana cultivation.
Big business noticed the dollar signs associated with the medical marijuana movement that took root in California beginning in 1994. Since then, thousands of medical marijuana “dispensaries” cropped up across the state servicing thousands of registered medical marijuana users. The Emerald Triangle of Northern California, (the counties of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino) is the epicenter of this cash crop. In California alone, it accounts for $14 billion. With marijuana the largest cash crop in the United States, where there is money to be made, big business — and government — will follow.
Small mom-and-pop storefronts and businesses have become visible across the state of California. The profitability did not go unnoticed. The Oakland law provides for four mega-farms to grow pot. The city permit fee for each of the four allowed farms is about $210,000 yearly. The big problem is that the legal fees and permits required are far too costly for the small grower to afford. Just as in agribusiness, smaller, family pot farms are being squeezed out.
One firm, AgraMed, hopes to convert empty industrial buildings into pot factories the size of two football fields that will produce about 58 pounds of marijuana per day. Another, a firm called iGrow, has a 15,000-foot hydroponics superstore billed as the first to cater openly to medical marijuana growers. They also founded the University of Cannabis to teach cultivation classes.
“This is about big money,” legalization advocate Dale Gieringer told ABCNews.com. “These are, by far, the largest facilities ever proposed in the United States. With only four competitors, it's going to be an oligopoly.”
Unintended consequences. If the regulation, control and taxation of marijuana go down the projected path, it will be similar to the provisions for alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical drugs, and AK-47s, all of which are far more dangerous to society. Prescription drugs alone kill more people than all illicit drugs combined.
The impetus for the medical marijuana movement is a direct result of the barbaric “War on Cancer” waged since the 1970s. Victims of cancer treatment found that pot would ease pain, defeat nausea caused by toxic chemotherapy and stimulate appetite to help them gain back nutrients and strengthen the immune system. AIDS patients also found marijuana useful to ameliorate symptoms. It’s from this legitimate use of a natural substance that the push for some social vehicle to help these patients came to pass. Since then, it’s been found that marijuana is far more helpful than harmful.
The recreational use of marijuana is a step further along than medicinal use. The number of legal users would explode. Big Pharma and government would step in and take control.
The answer is not to pass laws to control marijuana but to repeal the insane 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and remove the herb from the Federal list of Class I drugs, a list that equates marijuana with heroin, opiates and LSD. Even CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said recently that there is ample evidence that marijuana use is safe for adults. Why should it be illegal?
Marijuana doesn’t need a law to regulate it. It should simply be left alone. It shouldn’t even be an issue. Marijuana shouldn’t have to be legalized. It should never have been outlawed.
Heartland Healing is a New Age polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Visit HeartlandHealing.com for past articles.