We need to talk about Washington State’s once robust and thriving medical marijuana market. A time and place when Americans were treated like adults, before the government like it does so well, decided to protect us. I use to avoid calling Washington State’s marijuana policy a market, but that’s what it was. People grew weed, and other people bought it. There’s a stigma out there that one shouldn’t be making a profit from marijuana sold as medicine but we don’t have an issue with people profiting off of boner medications, why is that?
We need to talk about Washington State’s once-thriving past if we want to move forward as a country and industry. Whether the purchase was for recreational or medical use is not the question here, it was a market where one could stop in any store across the state with a medical script and purchase cannabis in many forms, not just purchase but also consume on the premises in a safe space. There were farmer’s markets statewide as well. The structure at the time gave every citizen rich, poor, black, white, brown, yellow, male or female, a chance to create a prosperous future from a seed, all they had to do was take the time and energy to understand to a plant.
What many activists fear for their state has happened here in Washington, legalization forgot the little guy, the everyday Jane Joe. The structure of the market at the time of the “unregulated” structure allowed for someone who was willing to put forth the effort an equal chance to be successful. From high school dropouts who got their shit together to low-income families wanting to do more for themselves, if you put in the time and effort of planting a seed, you had a chance; this is no longer the case.
There was a time when the citizens who decided to live a lifestyle were left alone, and the world did not crumble. Addiction did not rise, use by teens did not go up, and people did as they do and went to work and other mundane things that we do in life. A time when the citizens were treated like adults for accepting a plant as their medicine, whether it was consumed to treat cancer or the case of the Mondays, it is medicinal.
Another aspect that made the previous market better for the people was that the individual that grew the plant could be the same selling it to me in the store, a time when I could talk to the Gardner on the spot because this was their livelihood. They had to care when making large amounts of quality cannabis because there was a competitive market for quality cannabis at affordable prices.
Present Structure vs. Past
Tinfoil hat theory, as a canna conspirator it feels like legalization was meant to kill medical marijuana by demonizing it as unregulated and a crime-ridden black market when truth be told it was the purest example of fair and open trade, of capitalism, you know that thing that America and Americans pride themselves on.
When I502 took place, it cut the hands off of many that were already successful, successful because they were excellent Farmers at smaller scales. No longer could you just grow and sell it to an individual, now one who grows has to sell it to a state-approved processor, who then will package it, then that person will sell it to a store; How many hands need to be in a fucking pot?
Washington State’s present legalization is still not good enough for the sick. Sick people will die, and citizens will continue to not have a chance at prosperity as long as the Washington State lawmakers fear federal repercussions over an archaic bad law, the people have spoken, the government needs to represent the concern of the masses, not toxic industries. We got legalization and social reform of the backs of the sick, the dying, the dead, not just the imprisoned.
The present form of legalization only empowers people with money, not the consumer, the farmer, or patient. The free market that enabled the citizen to have an informed decision is no longer here. Quality is more expensive than before, and that’s because there was also a community, not producer, processor, storefront, you can only do one structure for a plant that should be anyone is allowed to grow.
Homegrows Are Important An Important To Freedom
The problem with most policies is not that they happen behind closed doors but out in the open between Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, the time when those who give a fuck are working. We are unaligned just a bit, as long as presidents day is a federal holiday but voting day isn’t. I was fortunate enough to attend a WSLCB review meeting 11/20/2017 as a citizen activist. This one was special because it involved homegrows but I walked away learning the issues little alcohol has in Washington is almost identical to little cannabis.
The two hour and fifteen-minute meeting started with an Executive Session; this is when the members can sit in a formal setting and discuss strategy about the practices of the WSLCB without public oversight. When the doors open the first to speak was The Family Wineries of Washington State.They were speaking in response to some upcoming alcohol regulation asking for WSLCB to focus on public safety and not rules that encumber a winery or the processing and distribution of wine citing various cases in the competitive market in other states. They repeatedly pointed out that public safety is in the mission statement of WSLCB, not alcohol regulation. The Wine Families were tired of asking for permission before each new step like adding a tasting room and felt hindered by the WSLCB’s process. For each new thing staff of the WSLCB enforced the Wine Families have to gather and create legislation which the legislators are tired seeing, redundant rules for citizens trying to run a successful business by bringing the best experience for the customer.
Amongst their arguments were “economic restrictions that have nothing to do with public safety,”The best way to set prices is a free market.” “New regulation has nothing to do with public safety.” To me, the producer, processor, and store structure is an issue for the small business alcohol market as well. Who does the WSLCB work for? The one argument that rings true for everything is “Competition creates quality,” another issue I continually state for the homegrow experience.
As the wine families presented their argument, it seemed some of the members were genuinely surprised by elements of the regulation, and it made me wonder “Who writes WSLCB regulation?” This thought is disconcerting because there are people in charge of two industries with not the consumer citizen’s interest at heart or so it appears for both cannabis and alcohol. If Washington State treated homegrows like homebrew, markets could come back (more licensing, more money for the state), people could exchange their efforts.
Of course, there will be rules for homegrows but the three options presented do not have the public and consumer’s interest in mind.Things like odor mitigation everyone should be happy to comply with for personal security reasons and for just being a good neighbor. WSLCB regulation focus should be on the recreational businesses through stores, lab testing enforcement, and requirements, and special event licensing. There is still plenty of money to be made by the state in a free mar
In a recent Commerce and Gaming hearing it was stated that there are a million dollars in taxes produced a day. This revenue generated is neck in neck with liquor sales, but I would argue that cannabis contributes more to the State’s economy because the source of the product is 100% produced in Washington whereas alcohol is probably only 40% of the alcohol source comes strictly from Washington. With this kind of dollar amounts being talked about, it’s hard to argue the rules the WSLCB create have had the consumer and public safety’s interest at heart.
The document presented which was supposed to represent the findings of the WSLCB review seemed like a crock of shit. Here the document laid out the three options but no real definition of what the public wanted. When asking for public input, the WSLCB laid out three options, how does one justifiably present options as the input without really gathering any input? When it comes to regulating a product the people have already spoken about, the WSLCB hides behind the Cole Memo. Which clearly states it is not concerned with personal consumption, what they are concerned about is criminal enterprises and cartels being funded by cannabis sales which we all should be but to regulate homegrows is not the means to stop the bad guys, it only creates one.
It felt weird sitting in a room concerned about policy to create a criminal, not about public safety. The same three options the WSLCB presented were as the “study” with the public’s input as a footnote. The whole thing felt like a dog and pony show especially since the Director Rick Garza only appeared for this one issue and promptly left.
Homegrows and all the other things people argue against such was already here, and the world didn’t fall apart. In fact, it was a kinder and gentler time when people had fundraisers for everything from sick kids to people being prosecuted by the law, there was a community with a lack of unity legislatively, and that was the downfall.
I reached out asking if anyone had any pics of when there were markets across the state and I would like to present to you a few of my favorite, in hopes that one day the Washington consumer can be a part of such experience again.
There are hundreds of more out there but the point being is, this existed and all those reefer madness fears never happened out of the 15 years of medical marijuana in Washington. We need common sense, not more rules and reefer madness.