Nevada’s Question 2 marijuana initiative passed with 54.5 percent of the vote in the 2016 election. The measure went into effect January 1 and legalizes the personal possession of marijuana by adults 21 and older, provides for the creation of over 100 retail outlets, and allows adults to cultivate their own cannabis plants at home, and possess the results of the harvest.
But there’s a catch: you’re not allowed to grow your own cannabis if you live within 25 miles of one of those retail outlets.
Ohio’s Issue 3 marijuana initiative failed with just 36 percent of the vote in the 2015 election. The measure would have legalized the personal possession of marijuana by adults 21 and older, provided for the creation of over 1,000 retail outlets, and allowed adults to cultivate their own cannabis plants at home.
But there was a catch: you were not allowed to grow your own cannabis without a state license.
I was one of the few voices in the marijuana movement who was strongly in favor of passing Ohio’s initiative. I was bombarded on all sides by colleagues, critics, and consumers who told me that Ohio’s measure had to be defeated because it contained a fatal flaw – it reserved ten parcels of land in the state constitution as the only legal grow sites, parcels that were already owned by ten investor groups that had contributed $2 million to the campaign.
It’s oligopoly, they told me. It’s the corporate buy-out of our movement, I was warned. It’s an affront to capitalism, I heard repeatedly. How could we set the precedent that the One Percent can just buy their own regulatory capture? How could we let the titans of industry steal our Green Rush from right under our noses?
I find it hilarious that the Ohio Issue 3 marijuana legalization just had to be opposed by the marijuana movement because it was an egregious affront to capitalism that locked in all the legal marijuana grow sites to the ten investors in the initiative – even though it would have legalized home growing, opened up thousands of rec licenses open to any applicants, provided medical marijuana to a far broader spectrum of patients than the subsequently-passed Ohio medical marijuana bill that only allows a 90-day supply of non-smoked medicine bought from a dispensary, would have allowed other growers to sublet land from investors for their own grow companies, and would have maintained only a $150 fine / no-criminal-record minor misdemeanor for public toking…
…but we were all gung-ho, onboard, and fully promoting Nevada’s Question 2, even though for eighteen months it locks in all the retail, processing, and growing licenses to the existing medical marijuana industry, locks in the distribution licenses to the alcohol industry (a bribe so they wouldn’t oppose legalization), protects the medical marijuana industry further by banning home grows within 25 miles of their retail outlets, and mandates a $600 fine / misdemeanor crime for public toking (we wouldn’t want people all whacked out on drugs causing mayhem on the Vegas Strip, now, would we?)
To reiterate: Had Ohio’s legalization passed in 2015, Ohioans 21 and older could have been growing their own cannabis at home with a license, could have been shopping for marijuana at one of over a thousand pot shops located all over the state, could have gotten medical marijuana from a non-profit dispensary that they could smoke for any condition a doctor determined “reasonable in light of the potential benefit”, could have gotten that medical marijuana at a reduced cost if they are indigent, and would have been facing only a ticket and fine if caught toking in public – but that was bad because “monopoly”…
…but Nevada’s legalization passing in 2016 means Nevadans 21 and older living in a city are still criminals if they grow cannabis at home, are now criminals paying a $600 fine if caught toking in public, are forced to shop at just around 100 pot shops that will mostly be around Reno and Las Vegas, which are stocked by the alcohol industry and can only be run by the growers who already have a “monopoly” deal in the state, thanks to 2013 legislation that banned medical home growing after March 1, 2016 – and that’s good because “freedom”!
Look, I will always support any measure that ceases the punishment of any cannabis consumers; I don’t give four-fifths of a flea’s fart who makes money in the process. And I understand von Bismarck’s observations that politics is the art of the possible and we may not always like the results we get in the sausage making.
Just don’t tell me you’re opposing legalization because it unfairly protects the profits of companies that grow and sell marijuana when you’re supporting bills and initiatives that do not restore our right to cultivate our own cannabis at home, thereby forcing us to shop from companies that grow and sell marijuana.
It just seems telling to me that initiatives and bills that contain all manner of deference to the One Percent in order to get them passed - like no home grow, exorbitant non-refundable application fees, seven-figure capital escrow requirements, and so forth – are just fine when they’re written and/or supported by Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance, no matter how much those measures shortchange the consumer, but a similar compromise to the One Percent by an investor group in Ohio was unacceptable, even though it would have resulted in a better medical and recreational law for consumers than most of the states that have them.