Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights. Many will recognize this Bob Marley song, but do you recognize the need to be a cannabis advocate? There is an old saying -- if you are not at the table you are on the menu.
Cannabis laws are changing fast. Five states, Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana, and Mississippi passed cannabis legalization referendums in the November 2020 elections.
Legalization bills are on the governor's desk in Virginia. In New Mexico, the legislature is trying to finalize bills. The New York and Connecticut and Pennsylvania governors are all advocating for legalization. The federal government seems to have other priorities.
If it all seems chaotic, it is. There are many interests involved, big business, big pharma, medical marijuana patients, cannabis growers, cannabis caregivers, product manufacturers, and consumers. You can bet that the larger players with more capital are bending the ears of the legislators and decision-makers.
Why should you care? If pot is legal ~ then it's legal, right? Not so much. All cannabis legalization programs are not equal. There are medical programs and adult-use programs. Some programs limit the types of products available; for example, New York restricts the sale of dry flower. Some states are proposing limits on THC potency; a bill in Florida would limit dry flower to 10% THC potency. Potency limits are being considered in other states as well.
As prohibition is ending, an entire new industry is being developed. From what and where and by whom the plant is grown, to who can process, test, make products, and sell them. At its root, cannabis is a plant and you can grow it in your closet or backyard and make products in your kitchen with your crockpot. Cannabis legalization should redress the harms caused by the racist war on drugs through social equity. However, legislators steeped in the racist war on drugs thinking impose complex and costly regulations that limit options for small businesses and favor larger corporations.
Complex regulations are not required. Oklahoma rolled out a medical program with very low barriers to entry and very easy application processes. Business is booming and the world has not collapsed.
Surprisingly, your voice can make a difference. There are relatively few cannabis lobbyists. Calling your local representatives when legalization issues are on the table can help shape cannabis laws and regulations.
The first step is to stay informed on what is happening in your state. Subscribe to one or more cannabis news outlets to know when bills are on the table in your state. Join in community advocacy efforts.