Legalization For All

Stoners AGAINST British and Dutch government-style “severely limited number of licenses” legalization and FOR legalization “for all” – the kind of legalization imagined by the vast majority of the cannabis community since at least 1969.

The key thing here is we need to consult all the stakeholders, which is something that didn’t happen this time around,” Whitney said. “Whether it’s the growers in Humboldt, the dispensary owners or the marijuana activists — they need to be involved in the very conception of an initiative.

-“Up in smoke: A closer look at how Humboldt voters shot down Proposition 19 Thadeus Greenson”, The Times-Standard, 12/09/2010 [1]

Moreover the riches of the earth are for all …

-Ecclesiastes 5:9, the Peshitta (Aramaic Bible), circa 2nd century BCE

Part 1: The “inclusive model” of legalization originated in the activist community

(Author’s note: If you wish to debate me about this please go to this link here:

http://forums.cannabisculture.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1680157#Post1680157

The comments section sometimes denies me the opportunity to provide my responses. Stupid over-active spam filter!)

Not Traitors – Tactical Error Makers

Nothing in this article should be used by anyone as a way to add people to a list of traitors – this article is written in order to remove everyone from such a list and to ensure no more such lists get written.

In arguments about Proposition 19, I more than likely called people traitors too – on Facebook and in the discussion forums. I now regret doing so. If I called you a traitor, I’m sorry. Truth be told, there are no traitors, just different strategies. If anyone in the movement makes a tactical error in supporting this or that flawed strategy – which every one of our imperfect selves tend to do at least once in our lives – then the truth will help them change their ways faster than all the threats, intimidation and shame in the world.

We need everyone’s help to vote in legalization; we need those who will vote for any kind of legalization and we need those who will only vote for a certain kind of legalization. If we continue to fight each other no kind of legalization will ever get passed. Despite all the harsh words, we now have to pull together as a team.

Three additional lessons

This article was originally going to be limited to a simple response to Russ Belville’s “10 Lessons Learned from Marijuana Election Defeats”. [2]

I agreed with most of what Russ had to say. My response originally consisted of three short points:

1) I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as “stoners against legalization”. I think Bill Panzer said it best:

“…Prop 19 is not “legalization” and I don’t believe those in the movement who are against Prop 19 are against legalization. To the contrary, I believe most movement opponents are against 19 because they are FOR legalization.” [3]

2) Belville’s section three should mention “dealers” too – and the next initiative must remove any “caps” on the number of producers and retail outlets – or at least make it the same number as caffeine or alcohol (no caps on either of those – or if they do exist they are “capped” at tens of thousands per city).

3) His section 8 should have included – instead of “breathalizer” – an impairment test … the same impairment test meant to catch people who are suffering from a lack of sleep or prescription meds or sickness or old age or other non-drug forms of impairment … walk a straight line, look up close eyes touch nose and count backwards from 100 … stuff like that.

But then I got to thinking. Panzer wrote his analysis right before the vote and people are STILL using the term “stoners against legalization” – what will it take to get people to drop that idea so that the movement can heal? And what exactly do we all mean by “legalization”?

An in-depth look at lesson 1 and 2

Many activists on both the “Yes on 19” side and the “No on 19” side of the movement have claimed at some point that they and they alone support true legalization. Maybe it’s not enough to say that Prop 19 failed because the movement was divided on what the term “legalization” meant. Maybe it is more important – at this juncture – to look at the history of the context surrounding the word “legalization”. Maybe it’s now vital for all of us to see what it once meant and to see when exactly it began to mean two things instead of one – and from where this second meaning came.

So I began to do some reading … mostly High Times magazines. My personal collection is taller than my knee. And while I don’t claim to have more than 30 or 40 percent of all High Times ever published, I still think I’ve taken a large enough sample to make some accurate generalizations. I hope that – if I happen to be mistaken – someone will publicly disprove what I am saying – I hope that the comment section for this article remains open.

The following is every quote I could find about what “legalization” has meant to the cannabis community in terms of either being inclusive (allowing everyone to compete) or being exclusive (allowing only a limited number of licenses). If there’s one issue that means the most to me personally – and also, I suspect, means the most to the vast majority of the 31 percent of those who voted against Prop 19 but who considered themselves for “legalization” of a different kind [4] it is the issue of who gets to grow and deal in the post-legalization world. It is my conclusion, based upon the evidence that I am about to present, that the issue of “who gets to grow and deal” was the most common of all the “details of legalization” issues. It follows, logically, that it is also the #1 issue for the “pro-legalization, anti-prop 19” voters.

It’s not a trivial matter. In a world where having enough money can be the difference between life and death (such as in heath-care or legal representation even food and shelter), deciding what model legalization will take is about more than just the right to an awesome job – the job of cannabis retailer – the first job I ever had where I didn’t have to kiss anyone’s ass – a job I would one day like to have again. It’s also about the fate of all the growers and dealers who currently raise a family – or just get by – on the money from growing and/or dealing cannabis. It’s also about one of the only solutions to poverty left in the world. It’s also about one of the only solutions to democracy-perverting concentrations of wealth left in the world. It’s also about infusing justice into the economic realm.

The modern cannabis community began as inclusive

There have been ongoing discussions – nearly every generation [5] – on who gets to deal and who doesn’t … ever since Moses invented the first cannabis monopoly back in Exodus 30:33 [6], but for the modern period, I suspect that detailed visions of legalization began to manifest themselves into print in the late 1960’s.

The earliest example of a description of how inclusive legalization would be that I could find comes from a 1969 issue of The Marijuana Review – what I believe was the first marijuana-activist oriented magazine – regarding the opinion of it’s association of editors, consultants and journalists: LEMAR (“LEgalize MARijuana”) – what I believe was the first pro-legalization of marijuana organization. LEMAR consisted of such notables as Allen Ginsberg, John Sinclair, Dr. Tod Mikuriya, Peter Stafford and Michael Aldrich – some of the great pioneers of cannabis activism. Michael Aldrich argued that cannabis “should be controlled as alcohol is controlled”. [7]

Also in 1969 a similar “alcohol model” sentiment was being stated up in Canada – this time as a response to the hearings held by the LeDain commission. (8]

When cannabis activists manifest actual free markets, it tends to follow the 1970’s “coffee shop model” of Holland or the “farmers market model” of 1970’s San Francisco and Christiania and of the last 15 years of Vancouver’s “smoke-easy” and “free market rally” scene. But the “alcohol model” is the model most referred to in advocacy work and ballot propositions.

To me, the “alcohol model” infers cannabis will be available at restaurants, bars, taverns, lounges, pubs, night-clubs, Legions, specialty stores and – in the case of the United States and Quebec – grocery stores. The alcohol model DOES imply licensing but DOES NOT imply a small and/or limited number of licenses.

In the lead-up to the Grasstown Police Riot of 1971, the organizers of the August 7th Grasstown Smoke-In outlined their objectives in the local young-people’s newspaper – The Georgia Straight. They called for “total solidarity” with the “more than 100” dealers busted in Operation Dustpan. Operation Dustpan was a mass arrest of all the cannabis users and dealers by the Vancouver Police department. The organizers also called for “Legalization of Marijuana” and an end to the drug war being used as a weapon of class war. [9]

In a 1971 issue of The Marijuana Review, a more detailed vision of legalization emerged out of San Francisco, one with a strong inclusivity sentiment:

“Opposing government monopoly of sale because it “presupposes that the traffic is evil and therefore not to be left in private industry,” and government licensing of only a few vendors because “any system of licensing that is more selective or restrictive than our present system of alcoholic beverages control is fruitful for bribery and corruption,” the Committee simply urges: “The sale of Marijuana to adults can be regulated by laws on the general order of those regulating alcoholic beverages.” [10]

Here we have a clear line drawn between the alcohol model on the one hand and the “government licensing of only a few vendors” on the other. Not surprisingly – given the “bribery and corruption” that comes with the concentrated economic power that limited licenses create – these activists chose the alcohol model.

There was a 1972 version of Prop 19. It was far more progressive than the 2010 version of Prop 19 in that it refused to throw anyone under the bus. A “yes” vote on the 1972 Proposition 19 would have revised California’s laws about to marijuana to “provide that no person in the State of California 18 years of age or older shall be punished in any way for growing, processing, transporting, or possessing marijuana for personal use, or for using it. [11]

The next example I came across of a vision of a post legalization world was in an early issue of High Times magazine – the 1975 “Alaska Goes Legal” issue. The High Times editors stated:

“The only reasonable solution seems to be to bring the present underground distribution system aboveground – legally. Each dealer would have his small store, like a tobacco shop. … Competition would keep quality high.” [12]

It seems that – for marijuana smuggler and High Times publisher Tom Forcade – “each dealer” was to be included in the post-legalization economy. This would be good for the consumer too, as many dealers would compete by increasing quality (and no doubt lowering price as well). A similar anti-monopoly statement was made the next year in reference to the paraphernalia industry in another High Times editorial. [13]

Dr. Mikuriya used the pages of High Times to come out in favor of “complete legalization”: a monopoly-busting 100 plant limit on home cultivation. As well, Dr. Mikuriya provided a very interesting insight into just how liberal the repeal of alcohol prohibition in the United States actually was – a 250 gallon limit per person! [14]

At this time NORML – a cannabis consumer advocacy group – was beginning to feel the pressure from the rank and file to expand their advocacy to include “full legalization” – one which will protect “the Third World growers and the neighbourhood dealers”. [15]

NORML 1970’s – no legalization for fear of corporate cannabis monopoly

“NORML chief Keith Stroup, a decrim supporter, opposed legalization ‘for three years or so,’ in favor of a current push toward decriminalization until a consumer-based distribution system could be arranged. Stroup argued that corporate giants would devour and destroy the dope market.” [16]

NORML opposed legalization in the 1970’s because it feared corporate cannabis monopoly. They thought it was better for growers and dealers to be arrested then to be put out of business permanently by the corporations. Admittedly, this was before Marinol, before Sativex, before Dutch dealers and Californian med pot caregivers had allowed a “limited license” reaction from the establishment. Nobody in the 1970’s imagined how easy it would be for the government and big pharma to set themselves up with a limited pot monopoly and get away with it.

The next year Keith Richard of the Rolling Stones threw his two cents into the debate:

“If they can figure out a way of taking it over and making bread out of it, it’ll be legal. The only reason methadone’s such a big deal in America is because a lot of people are making millions on it. … I think they realize that even if they sell 20 filtered Acapulco golds, real grass heads will still be buying their stash from the man who comes over the border with it under the floorboards of his truck. If you want good tobacco, you don’t buy Newports or Marlboros. You go to some little tobacco stall and choose your tobacco.” [17]

Clearly – by comparing the quality from the cottage tobacco industry with the corporate tobacco industry – Richard favored inclusiveness, and seemed to be saying that the non-corporate growers and dealers would dominate the connoisseur market (which, in a fully informed world, would be most or all of the market) if both corporate and non-corporate were allowed to operate legally.

In 1979, due to pressure from the rank and file, NORML changed it’s position of strict “decriminalization” and began publicly calling for both decrim and legalization at the same time:

“It’s only taken us nine years to say we wanted legal dope,” said NORML founder Keith Stroup in a moment of clarity. “… nine years of being hypocrites to ourselves and the smugglers who bring in the dope we smoke.” [18]

But the 1979 NORML – with new leader Larry Schott at the helm – would continue to explain its lack of action regarding full legalization initiatives using the fear of corporate monopoly:

“I’m not so sure I would want to jump into legalization tomorrow. I want to know how it’s going to work. I want to keep large commercial interests from taking it over.” [19]

1979 also contained another similar statement regarding fear of a monopoly that would squeeze out black-market dealers – this time found within an interview with High Times publisher Tom Forcade:

“Decriminalization would make my business better than ever. But legalization, I don’t know.” [20]

Famous authors Albert Goldman (famous for his attack on John Lennon in his book “The Lives of John Lennon”) and horror novelist Stephen King both shared their inclusive “cottage industry” vision of legalization at around this time. [21]

The second wave

The Nancy Regan era was no doubt a lull in pro-cannabis legalization activism. But by the end of the 1980’s cannabis activists again began to agitate in ever greater numbers. NORML – again under new leadership – painted a more inclusive picture than ever before, explicitly promising “American farmers” a seat at the legalization table. [22]

Quietly and without much fanfare, while Nancy Regan had paraded the kids around in their “Just Say No” t-shirts, the local marijuana grower had replaced the international cannabis smuggler as the main source of supply, and cannabis activists everywhere were responding by appealing to the interests of these farmers. Down in Kentucky, Gatewood Galbraith became the voice for the Kentucky pot grower:

“I would seek to implement this plan whereby we allot our farmers a certain poundage to grow each year. The farmer cannot sell to anyone else. He can only sell it to the state. The state would be the middleman. The state has a legitimate interest in taxing and controlling this substance. The state would then package it, grade it for potency, and turn around and sell it wholesale to licensed retail dealers around the state – the people who are dealing now for a living. The object is to spread the wealth as much as possible. We don’t want the oil, tobacco, and liquor companies, or the pharmaceutical industry gaining control of this market. It’s extremely important that it be kept in the hands of the people who have put it together over these last twenty years.” [23]

According to Galbraith, licensing and taxing growers and dealers did not necessarily have to involve 1) corporate monopolies, 2) caps on the number of outlets or 3) excluding those currently growing and dealing cannabis from the legal market. Other NORML representatives also provided inclusive statements during this “second wave” of cannabis activism. California Norml spokesperson Dale Gieringer wrote;

“The most practical policy is thus likely to be the one most consistent with principles of personal freedom and civil liberties, namely to let Americans grow their own cannabis at home, just as they might grow tomatoes, apples or grapes.” [24]

The 1990s brought with it pro-legalization groups other than NORML, and they too spoke of inclusive models for the post-legalization economy. For example, the hemp movement brought with it quotes such as this one from Prop 19 supporter Chris Conrad, answering the question “who benefits from relegalization?”:

“For current cannabis consumers and suppliers, it removes the risks and problems of operating in a black market economy and the fear and stigma of prosecution. It allows them to be honest about their life styles and pastimes with their friends, families, employers, doctors, elected officials, etc.” [25]

From Prop 19 opponent Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes (edited by Chris Conrad) we have a similar sentiment (in both the 1994 edition and the 2000 edition):

“This decentralized green economy will enable everyone to participate and share in the wealth of a truly free market democracy. For there can be no true democracy unless every citizen has the opportunity to share in the wealth of the nation.” [26]

Also new to the scene was “Mass Cann” – the Massachusetts chapter of NORML:

“Epstein says there are basically two wings in the group, with one pressing for legalization that would eliminate marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and Controlled Substance Tax Act, and the other favoring making marijuana exempt from criminal prosecution as long as an excise tax is paid on it.” [27]

The vision of inclusiveness also continued with “second wave” Canadian activists, such as BC Compassion Club Society founder Hilary Black:

“We have to fight the monopolizing, corporate reality that is poised to take over this new industry. Government seems more interested in pharmacizing the plant, if you will, rather than addressing the patients – who they are, what they need and what is most beneficial to them.” [28]

November of 2002 brought with it the first US “full legalization” initiative – Nevada Question 9 – and it was an inclusive one, promising the same license fees and taxes “as those for cigarettes and tobacco related products”. [29]

Unfortunately the Nevada legalization initiative of 2002 did not succeed and the world was denied an opportunity to see what the “tobacco model” would have looked like. Meanwhile, Canadian medical marijuana activists such as Philippe Lucas, Hilary Black and Rielle Capler continued to be united in their opposition to an exclusive market – echoing High Time’s “quality” argument as one of the benefits of an inclusive market:

“Community based cultivation would take advantage of the extensive genetic pool and knowledge residing within those currently engaged in the grey-market production and distribution of therapeutic cannabis. This would significantly improve the quality, expand the selection and lower the cost of the supply.” [30]

Phil Smith – a US writer living in Canada who had spent almost three years in jail for a half-pound of pot – also argued for respecting and rewarding the contribution of black-market suppliers, perhaps even including current growers and dealers in the legal market. [31] US academics such as economist Jeffrey Miron also saw the economic benefits to legalization for all. [32] According to Miron, legalization would entail the elimination of arrests for trafficking. Canadian academics echoed the inclusivity of US academics. [33]

And the pro-inclusivity statements from long-time activists kept piling up over the last couple of years – even among supporters of Prop 19. [34]

Contemporary examples of anti-monopolistic legalization initiatives

Unlike the 2010 version of Prop 19, which mentioned licenses as a method of determining who was a legal dealer and legal commercial grower but did nothing to remove the discriminatory licensing process adopted by large cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland (Oakland has one licensed retail outlet for every 100,000 people, and Los Angeles has one licensed retail outlet for every 360,000 people), Jack Herer’s 2010 and 2012 California initiatives expand the concept of “personal production” to the maximum while attempting to remove the discriminatory licensing process:

I. Add Section 11362.6 to the Health and Safety Code of California, any laws or policies to the contrary notwithstanding:…7. Commerce in cannabis hemp euphoric products shall be limited to adults, 21 years of age and older, and shall be regulated in a manner analogous to California’s wine industry model. For the purpose of distinguishing personal from commercial production, 99 flowering female plants and 12 pounds of dried, cured cannabis hemp flowers, bud, not leaf, produced per adult, 21 years of age and older, per year shall be considered as being for personal use.

III. The legislature is authorized upon thorough investigation, to enact legislation using reasonable standards to:
1. License concessionary establishments to distribute cannabis hemp euphoric products in a manner analogous to California’s wine industry model. Sufficient community outlets shall be licensed to provide reasonable commercial access to persons of legal age, so as to discourage and prevent the misuse of, and illicit traffic in, such products. Any license or permit fee required by the State for commercial production, distribution or use shall not exceed $1,000.00. [35]

The freedom contained in the Jack Herer initiative – anyone who wants to can grow and deal commercially – is so attractive to the cannabis community that it has spread to Colorado in 2012. [36] If it can ever find the money required to get on the ballot I have no doubt whatsoever it will be voted in.

The California Cannabis Initiative – another different legalization initiative to Prop 19 that didn’t make it on the ballot in 2010 – did not explicitly protect everyone’s right to retail cannabis, but at least one author who I spoke to was open to the idea of including explicit protection of “economic freedom” in the 2012 version. [37]

The Washington State Initiative 1068, which failed to make it on the ballot in 2010, was an inclusivity bill, protecting all growers and dealers over the age of 18 from punishment. [38] Washington activists have argued that the simple way – repeal – is also the most effective way to remove a prohibition, and that it worked well for alcohol prohibition. [39]

Massachusetts has an initiative ready for 2012, one that uses the alcohol model. [40]

Since the failure of Prop 19, High Times has once again led the way in voicing the anti-monopoly ethic, this time publishing an editorial by “growitinthesun.org”, a group of “Humboldt County and Bay Area residents”;

“By limiting the size of cannabis farms, we could ensure that the pot market stays horizontally integrated, supporting as large a number of small growers as possible, rather than industrial-scale “weed factories” that will extract maximum profits at any cost. Farmers should pay licensing fees scaled to the size of their business … Local communities should also encourage systems of distribution that keep growers and end users in close contact such as farmer’s markets and community-supported agriculture.” [41]

The above 30 or so quotes indicates to me that the “inclusive” legalization model is the dominant model – going back to the late 1960’s, spanning the entire 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s, and it looks like it will be around for the foreseeable future. Even more interestingly, I could not find any evidence for the “exclusive” model until 1979.

Part 2: The British Government’s invention of “caps”

“Revoke the Harrison Act! It is a Barbaric act – It will cause desperate criminals and gunmen to arise from our midst, for evidential reasons – Ope nope – It’s like Prohibition, it wont, work, – If the people want alcohol and dope let em have alcohol and dope …” – Jack Kerouac, “My Views On Religion”, circa 1955, Poems All Sizes, published 1992, p. 101

“A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation.” – George Orwell, 1984

The origin of limited licenses

The first evidence of a monopolistic cannabis legalization model I came across was published in a late 1970’s document entitled “Cannabis – Options For Control” by a study group within the British Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence, chaired by Thomas Bewley, a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The study group included “a senior police officer, criminologist, sociologist, economist and lawyer”.

The Canadian cannabis magazine Harvest contained a review of the report, stating that;

“the group seemed to favor a regulatory licensing system along the lines of present poison controls. The buyer would purchase from an authorized seller, possibly a pharmacist … Suitable firms, probably from the tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceutical industries would be licensed to produce, manufacture, and market cannabis … Commenting on the regulatory licensing system suggestion, the British “Legalize Cannabis Campaign (LCC)” said in a pre-publication press release: … “this kind of ‘big daddy’ approach would not be appreciated and that people would be less than happy with handing over the dealing business, lock, stock, and barrel, to any of the industries mentioned above.” [42]

Just to drive that point home, the first suggestion of an exclusive legalization model – a limited number of licenses – was invented by a government and opposed by cannabis activists.

As was the second model. The second example of the exclusive legalization model, strangely enough, comes from the Dutch government. The Dutch government is still seen as very progressive by the global cannabis community, but has gone through a series of changes over the years and has slowly adapted to their defacto-legal cannabis marketplace with a refusal to grant protection for most of the commercial cultivation community and the gradual shrinking of the retail community. It began in 1995, with a Dutch government report:

“Most larger municipalities have already decided drastically to reduce the number of coffee shops, in many cases to less than half the present number. The government supports this. No coffee shops at all will now be allowed near schools.” [43]

Using the age-old “parental hysteria” scapegoating technique – pretend that a pot café near a school will automatically result in misuse of cannabis from children – Dutch government shrunk the number of cafes from at least a couple thousand in the mid 1990’s down to just over 700 a decade later. [44] When Dutch “caps” on the number of outlets were introduced, they were described as “draconian” in High Times. [45] The Dutch themselves considered the changes “regressive”. [46]

The Dutch Government’s policy of shrinking the number of cafes and limiting who qualifies as a customer continues to this day – this time blaming the remaining black market harms … from a black market they refuse to legalize fully. The jobs of smuggling in hash, growing cannabis and supplying pot cafes – sometimes performed by people involved in other illegal drugs or extortion – remain illegal in Holland. The justifications for further reductions in the number of Dutch pot cafes were described this way in a recent report in the Huffington Post:

“The Netherlands’ justice minister and five southern Dutch cities say they will implement new restrictions on marijuana cafes after a wave of drug-related gangland violence. They said Friday the measures include shutting down many cafes, using tax and accounting laws to seize criminal assets, and introducing a “members only” pass system for remaining cafes.” [47]

While not possessing the same amount of drama as the burning of a witch, an anti-Jewish pogrom or the Nazi’s Kristallnacht, the caps create a less extreme and more gentle route to the scapegoater’s overall goal – it reduces the size of the scapegoated community and decreases the amount of dignity previously afforded the scapegoats.

The next example of “caps” that I could find came (for the first time) from a cannabis activist – Norm Stamper of LEAP:

“How would it work? If I were the new (and literal) Drug Czar, I would have private companies compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, package, and peddle drugs.” [48]

Stamper is most well known for his role in the Seattle’s response to the protests of the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, which eventually led to his resignation. [49] It is disappointing but not surprising that Mr. Stamper does not possess the insight necessary to welcome all the current black-market growers and dealers into the future legal cannabis economy. Having seen these people as “organized criminals” all his professional life, having witnessed only the down-side of the industry, having never hung out with the family of a pot grower or seen how many small time pot dealers struggle to survive, evidently Stamper lacks the necessary compassion required to beat drugwar swords into drugpeace plowshares for all.

One thing is fairly certain, Stamper has never had to stare dozens of different growers and dealers in the eye (while sitting in their homes and spending time with their families) and promise them all repeatedly that the corporations will not steal all the pot jobs once legalization is in place … as I have had to do over the course of my long career as a cannabis dealer/activist. One of the main reasons for my becoming a pot activist was to pull society back from the brink of starvation and police oppression, and the inclusive legalization model is the key to that happening.

Prop 19 – 2010 version

“If it goes totally legal, the mom-and-pop growers are going to be a
thing of the past,” – Dale Gieringer, co-author of Prop 215 and state
coordinator of California NORML, High Times, Nov. 2010, p. 80

Prop 19, otherwise known as the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010”, was not the legalization we’ve been hearing about for the last 40 years from pot activists. Despite claiming on it’s website that it will “Control cannabis like alcohol” [50] it more closely resembled the much more tightly controlled cannabis legalization suggested to us by governments and police. Pay close attention to the wording found in the purposes section – unique to any “legalization” proposition or model ever put before anyone else other than police and governments:

“B. Purposes
5. Put dangerous, underground street dealers out of business, so their influence in our communities will fade.” [51]

Keep in mind those “dangerous” underground street dealers once included – and most likely currently include people similar to – people like High Times founder Tom Forcade and med pot movement founder Dennis Peron, and their “influence” in the community include High Times magazine, Prop 215, and “legalization for all”.

Prop 19 limited the number of legal growers to 1) those over 21 who 2) lived on their own in their own house or who rented from a landlord who was willing to risk their property being seized and who 3) would allow themselves to be limited to 25 square feet of grow space – smaller than the average jail cell. [52) It’s hard to estimate what percentage of current growers this would have left “illegal”, but I suspect the percentage is greater than 50%.

The meaning of this section was debated constantly before the vote. Did the “25 square feet in your own house to be shared with the rest of the people living in the residence” rules also apply to med pot users who currently enjoyed no such restrictions? Suffice to say that attorney Bill Panzer – despite voting for Prop 19 for the message it would send regarding support for eventual “full” legalization – made the strongest argument (and yet to be answered in public by the yes side) as to why med pot cultivation rights could have been threatened by Prop 19:

“If an appellate court were inclined to find that Prop 19 preserved all 215/420 rights, there is language in 19 to support that. If, on the other hand, an appellate court was inclined to find that 19 allowed local municipalities to impinge on 215/420, there is language that could support that position too. The bottom line is that the body of the statute could have clearly stated that local municipalities are not authorized to pass any ordinance or regulation that infringes on 215/420 in any manner, but it doesn’t.” [53]

Another section of Prop 19 made sure only licensed dealers would be allowed to deal – all other dealers were going to be punished by civil fines or worse. [54] The trouble with only allowing licensed dealers to deal is that – in one third of California, places such as Los Angeles and Oakland – there are very few licenses handed out. Oakland has four licenses in a city of 400,000 people – one license for every 100,000 people. Los Angeles has 41 licenses for 14.8 million people – or one license for every 360,000 people. Author of Prop 19 Richard Lee could have chosen to insist on “Sufficient community outlets” to prevent illegal dealing (in other words, unlimited outlets) and affordable, competition-encouraging $1000 licenses for retailers (instead of the current $60,000 or more Oakland retailers must pay) as Jack Herer did in his initiative.

But Lee chose not to remove the discriminatory licensing system in his initiative. This was a tactical error on his part, as the decision not to remove the discrimination spelled doom for any unlicensed grower or dealer (or any family member of any unlicensed grower or dealer) who lived in – or feared they would one day live in – a pro-monopoly jurisdiction such as Los Angeles or Oakland. There are literally hundreds of thousands of these people all over California and they very well may have tipped the scales in favor of the “no” side on Nov. 2nd.

From where did the Oakland and Los Angeles license limits originate?

In the movie Super High Me, one could see how the number of medical marijuana dispensaries grew at an exponential rate – from eleven dispensaries in August of 2005 to 325 dispensaries in March of 2007. [55] Positive signals such as the Oct. 2003 SB420 med pot retail clarification bill [56] and a court ruling in Nov. 2006 [57] encouraged entrepreneurs to become pot dealers – or, more likely, to legitimize their underground pot businesses. After over 800 dispensaries opened up people sort of lost count. It’s quite possible that over 1000 dispensaries could have been operating out of Los Angeles in 2009.

On January 19th, 2010, the city of Los Angeles found a way to limit – and drastically reduce – the number of pot dispensaries. In a story entitled “L.A. City Council gives preliminary approval to pot ordinance requiring 1,000-foot buffer zones” from the January 19, 2010 of the L.A. times, we find that;

“The Los Angeles City Council settled the remaining controversial issue and voted today to adopt a medical marijuana ordinance requiring dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet from places where children congregate, such as schools, parks and libraries.” [58]

They used the old tried and true “parental hysteria” scapegoating method. The exact same parental hysteria scapegoating method the Dutch Government used in 1995 when they closed all the cafes that were “near” schools. [59]
At least one California lawyer publicly jumped to the defense of dispensaries using refreshing defenses of the free market:

“The free market will regulate dispensaries. The City Council does not have to. We don’t need to give law enforcement more excuses to execute search warrants on dispensaries and make more felons out of people with no criminal intent.” [60]

The government of California ignored such sentiments and instead borrowed a page from Los Angeles’s parental hysteria scapegoating book when the state Assembly passed AB2650 in early June, banning medical marijuana dispensaries that were 600 feet from a grade school. [61]

While there is no evidence that med pot dispensaries are an actual threat to children or are in any way associated with harm-to-others types of behavior, there IS evidence that associates med pot dispensaries with a reduction in crime. As med pot dispensary advocate Don Duncan pointed out;

“In Oakland, where collectives have been licensed since 2004, City Administrator Barbara Killey, notes that “The areas around the dispensaries may be some of the safest areas of Oakland now because of the level of security, surveillance, etc…since the ordinance passed.” In the City of Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters and the City Council that the claim that patients’ associations attract crime “doesn’t really bear out.” In fact, the overall crime rate in Los Angeles dropped during the proliferation of collectives and cooperatives in that city. Given that effective local regulations address public safety concerns, there is no public safety rationale for a statewide policy keeping collectives and cooperatives away from sensitive uses.” [62]

The city of Los Angeles then reduced the 70 legal med pot dispensaries down to just 41 in late August of 2010. [63]

The discriminatory nature of the licensing system in Los Angeles and Oakland was lamented publicly by the most powerful supporters – even the author – of Prop 19:

“While the Oaksterdam Empire hopes to secure one of those lucrative cultivation licenses for it’s own use, Lee nonetheless favors a plan that would allow more and smaller growers to make a living. … the “head honcho” fears that communities already hesitant to regulate marijuana may prefer to deal with a handful of large, established entities rather than trying to sensibly oversee what exists now: an unaffiliated, unregulated hodgepodge of many smaller, difficult to quantify growers. ‘I hate that trend’ Lee says with obvious sincerity. “That’s what we’re seeing in Oakland, and while I don’t mind there being a big facility, it’s the idea of having only two or three big ones that I don’t like.” [64]

Stephen DeAngelo, Owner of Harborside Health Center – the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, stated;

“Why does this whole new system have to be created?… Let’s bring these citizen farmers out of the shadows and into the light and give them a role in this new industry.” [65]

Unfortunately, these discriminatory licensing systems were not lamented enough to be removed through the wording of Prop 19, as could have easily been done … as was done in the Herer initiative.

Do we really need corporate pathology in the pot economy?

In the debate over Prop 19, one of the people on the steering committee of Prop 19 – Jeff Wilcox – made a public statement regarding his corporate goals:

“AgraMed has plans to build a 100,000-sq.-ft. marijuana mega-farm near Oakland International Airport that, “according to projections, could generate 58 pounds of pot a day and $59 million a year in revenue.” The company’s president, Jeff Wilcox—a member of the steering committee of the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative—reportedly hopes to “bring a degree of corporate structure to the marijuana industry.”” [66]

There were many supporters of Prop 19 who voiced the opposite opinion to this pro-corporate idea. Valerie Corral, executive director of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, stated that;

“This plant should not follow in the path of Coca Cola, Marlboro or Merck.” [67]

Stephen DeAngelo argued that;

“Society has a chance to get it right this time,” he said. “We didn’t get it right with tobacco. We didn’t get it right with alcohol. We put those potentially dangerous substances in the hands of corporations who had no interest other than making as much money as possible. Do we want those kinds of companies getting their hands on cannabis?” [68]

Growing advice columnist Ed Rosenthal, suggested the “tomato model”:

“The debate moves from whether cannabis is going to be legal to how cannabis is going to be legal,” he said. Rosenthal sees a day when cannabis will be grown like another popular and ubiquitous crop. “I like the tomato model,” he said, rattling off a possible hierarchy of breeders and growers: giant industrial companies; regional companies; farmers; individuals raising marijuana for cash from their own big back yards, then home growers. “There’s room for everybody in that model,” he said. “But with all the commercial ways tomatoes are grown, home growers still grow the most tomatoes in the U.S.” [69]

Opponents of Prop 19 also voiced opposition to corporate control of the cannabis economy. Legendary lawyer J. Tony Serra put it this way:

“Once it is legalized the greedy corporations will get their hands in it and it creates this corporate moral disability. Some large dispensaries already practice acts of corporate moral disability. I want it to stay with the mammas and the pappas. The small and unique places. I want the government out of my closet. It should be free, man.” [70]

Omar Figueroa, co-author of a different legalization initiative, was also critical of the monopolistic elements of Prop 19:

“I’ve for it, but it’s not legalization. … I’m not excited about it. … It takes away people’s economic liberty. … I would withdraw my support for it if there were efforts being made for a decent alternative in 2012.” [71]

For those who wish to understand more fully what happens to any industry – cannabis or otherwise – that adopts the pathological corporate model (ie: profit before all other concerns], I suggest you watch the film “The Corporation”. [72]

Despite such comments from Figueroa and Serra being echoed over and over by the no side (not to mention the comments from DeAngelo, Corral, Lee and others from the yes side that proved they completely understood the no side’s concerns regarding monopoly and wealth concentration), the major media repeatedly ignored these legitimate concerns over monopoly.

The media refused to quote the “pro legalization anti-19” directly on that issue, dismissed all concerns over the corporatization of the cannabis economy by pointing out that major alcohol and tobacco corporations were not interested in investing so long as cannabis remained illegal federally (ignoring the potential for corporations within the cannabis community itself to take such risks on) and instead lied and made it look like all forms of regulation were unacceptable to the “pro-legalization anti-19″ers. Here are a few typical examples taken from reporting by the East Bay Express and Mother Jones:

“But Lee’s centrist plan did not please famed older radicals like Dennis Peron and the late “Hemperor” Jack Herer, who wanted maximum legalization with minimum government involvement. At their most extreme, radical reformers want to throw open the jails and prisons, and grant pardons to all marijuana drug offenders. They want no restriction on giving marijuana to kids and few limits on possession, cultivation, and sales.” [73]

“Stoner Against Legalization writer Dragonfly De la Luz teamed up with ex-crackhead and self-appointed Sacramento bishop Ron Allen (watch him on Fox here) to spread their misunderstandings of Prop 19, like the idea that it would have any effect on medical marijuana but to make it cheaper.” [74]

“”There’s a large movement up here of people who realize that their self interest lies in keeping marijuana illegal,” says Hank Sims, the editor of the North Coast Journal, based in the Humboldt town of Eureka.” [75]

The major media, – and much of the activist community including NORML – in effect, took the “British/Dutch government cap model” and supported it, and pretended the other model didn’t exist at all. They ignored the long history of concerns within the movement over monopoly, and pretended that Prop 19’s critics were against all forms of legalization.

The support of Prop 19 by NORML does beg the question (given NORML’s 1970’s fears of corporate-controlled markets) as to why NORML could tolerate decrim in the 1970’s to avoid corporatization but found Prop 215 so horrible they were ready to embrace self-described corporations and discriminatory licensing over 1/3 of California’s population – 2/3rds if you count the “dry counties” – with Prop 19?

Maybe they just gave up on that particular ideal. Maybe they are in denial as to just how corporate-friendly Prop 19 was. Maybe they question how a license that gives them control of one quarter of Oakland’s cannabis market could turn one person into a billionaire. Maybe they believe that billionaires would never spend their money to keep cartelization in place. Maybe they are unconcerned about the “bribery and corruption” that concerned the pot activists of the early 1970’s. Maybe they didn’t read about Prop 19 author Jeff Wilcox bragging about corporatizing the pot economy.

It’s the kind of tactical error the movement cannot afford to keep making over and over again, as it will either result in the possible entrenchment of a permanent cannabis ruling class of lucky license holders, or else repeated failures at the polls – neither of which are acceptable to the future of our community.

Part 3: Possible future caps and a word about “traitors”

“Political and economic monopolization of medicine meant control over it’s institutional organizations, it’s theory and practice, it’s power and prestige. And the stakes are even higher today, when total control of medicine means potential power to determine who will live and will die, who is fertile and who is sterile, who is ‘mad’ and who is sane.” -Witches, Midwives and Nurses, Ehrenreich and English, 1993, p. 4

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire

Unfortunately, the extremist nature of the debates over Prop 19 prevented a true dialog over some of the concerns brought up by the “yes to legalization no to 19” side of the movement. This lack of dialog has resulted in some of the fatal flaws of Prop 19 being repeated in future legalization projects in California and in other states for 2012.

Activist K. C. Kimber suggested in the Huffington Post that “After a four year period a cap on the number of licenses shall be establishe­d. (a) The cap shall be the sum of current number of licenses plus fifty percent. The cap shall be adjusted upward annually at a rate of at least 5% not to exceed 20%.” [76]

Of course, there is no “cap” on the number of herbal medicine stores, coffee shops and the number of licensed alcohol retailers in Los Angeles is in the 10,000 range for Los Angeles judging from a couple of simple Google Maps searches. [77]

Why cannabis activists should settle for cannabis to be held to a different standard remains beyond my comprehension. Arguments about the industry being uncontrollable in a non-capped economies can’t explain how the caffeine, herbal medicine and alcohol economies manage to survive, and the “yes on 19” side failed to supply any evidence that voters were against the “everyone’s allowed to be a dealer” cannabis distribution model.

Kimber also repeats Belville’s mistake regarding testing for “under the influence” instead of testing for “impairment” – fortunately NORML has been getting this right for the last little while and with any luck will influence activists to drop the “under the influence” problematic language from any future initiative.

States other than California

Even now there is talk in the activist community of the emergence of medical marijuana monopolies in different states – states that have passed more exclusive and conservative medical marijuana laws. Maine is one state where activists notice an attempt to cartelize the economy. [78] The pot community in New Jersey is already suffering under a “6 outlet cap limit”. [79]

Washington State had a negative experience with the 1998 “Drug Medicalization Bill” – according to at least one activist it was a good thing it didn’t pass. The following exchange between High Times and attorney Jeffrey Steinborn makes for interesting reading regarding the advantage of favoring principles over symbolism. I have reproduced it in full because I think it’s important for all those who are constructing initiatives to read it and gain the wisdom found within Steinborn’s experience:

High Times: You just had an initiative, 685, the Drug Medicalization Bill, fail in Washington. Why was that?

Jeffrey Steinborn: The initiative was drafted without any input from people who work in the criminal-justice system, and therefore, for all its good intentions, was flawed in its content.

HT: Wasn’t the initiative modeled almost word for word after Proposition 200, the Arizona drug medicalization initiative that passed in 1996?

JS: Yes.

HT: What was wrong with utilizing the wording from a proposition that passed by a two-thirds margin in Arizona for the Washington Initiative?

JS: How many people have gotten out of jail in Arizona as a result of that proposition? None. That law is so badly flawed that it’s been put on hold in Arizona. It isn’t having any impact at all. And aside from being flawed, the proposition was distasteful to me as a criminal lawyer because it was a tradeoff. It attempted to pander to the tough-on-crime fears in this state by giving the illusion of getting tougher on certain crimes, which it would not have done, in an attempt to attach the good parts sort of stealthily to the parts we think the fearful public will vote for. Well, in my mind, attempting to fool the public for their own good is what the Nazis did, what our government does, and when we sign on to that way of doing politics, not only do we lose our moral compass, but we invite a lot of problems such as the one we had: The initiative was poorly drafted and it failed. If it passed, it would have been hell to implement. [80]

After reviewing the evidence, what have we learned?

We have learned that the “caps” that exist in Los Angeles and Oakland are opposed by most but not all of the cannabis community. We have learned that the evidence points to “caps” being an invention of the British and Dutch governments and – until 2009, were only suggested as desirable from the police side of the anti-prohibition movement. We have learned that the “caps” have not gone away and are threatening to spread to the rest of the cannabis community. And we have learned that there are clear advantages to avoiding fatal compromises and clear disadvantages to accepting them.

Staying true to one’s ideals is not traitorous

While I was being called a “traitor” or a “turncoat” by both Canadian and US pot activists, I took the time to research what the words actually mean. The two most accurate definitions I could find were:

“A turncoat is a member of a movement or cause that leaves and joins with the other side.” [81]

“(A traitor is) a person who says one thing and does another.” [82]

I was against Prop 19 for many reasons [83] but I don’t consider myself to be “against legalization”. I am not a traitor. I neither “left and joined the other side”, nor did I “say one thing and did another”. My own record of being outspoken against cannabis monopolies of all types is solid. [84] As most pot activists have done, I have given my allegiance not to a country, or an institution, or a person, but rather to an ideal … and I have not betrayed that ideal. I do oppose the British Government’s version of legalization, but most of us are opposed to that … we consider it draconian … and a few of us are not afraid to point it out.

Final thoughts

Activists who argue in the pages of High Times magazine that Americans are not yet ready for “full legalization” are themselves creating a self-fulfilling prophesy – all they are really saying is that they themselves are not ready. Every time someone says that a bill didn’t pass because it went “too far” instead of using the above facts in carefully considering the possibility that it didn’t go far enough, it makes it that much harder to achieve anything worthwhile.

Anyone who forces the community to choose between two immoral choices (prohibition or monopoly entrenchment) is making a serious tactical error. Cannabis activists are – by their very nature – autonomous, disobedient, not afraid of police or intimidated by the court system – there’s no way to bully them into accepting any more “seriously flawed” propositions. And because many of the people who voted in 2010 were the same people who voted in 1996, it’s quite likely that Prop 19 erred on the side of being too conservative rather than erring on the side of being to radical.

In my opinion, pot activists should not limit themselves to being concerned with just the oppression found in a pair of handcuffs or a jail cell – we should also care about the oppression found in poverty. It is very important to avoid the entrenchment of monopolies and fight to identify, challenge and remove them as the pot economy shifts from “illegal” to “legal” … lest we all risk injustice simply replaced by more injustice. Even partial monopolies. Even potential monopolies.

Any student of the history of revolutions will tell you that there is a 99% probability that one will be stuck with a new injustice to replace the old injustice … a new boss to replace the old boss. If our revolution is going to be different than all these failed revolutions of yesteryear, we cannot ignore the chorus of voices that have spoke out for an inclusive model for the legalization of cultivation and distribution of cannabis these last forty years.

NOTES

[1] http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_16814912

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russ-belville/10-lessons-learned-from-m_b_779959.html

http://blog.norml.org/2010/11/08/10-lessons-learned-from-marijuana-election-defeats/

[3] http://palmspringsbum.org/blog/2010/10/the-real-debate-over-californias-proposition-19/

[4]”Among voters who opposed Prop. 19, 31% said they believe marijuana should be legalized or penalties reduced, but they objected to the some specifics of the initiative.”

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/despite-rejecting-proposition-19-post-election-poll-finds-californians-still-lean-toward-legalizing-.html

[5] http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/node/19176

[6] http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/1090.html

[7] “If, by insisting that our experts are heard and by conducting a nation-wide campaign, we can convince Congress that marijuana sale and distribution can and should be controlled as alcohol is controlled, we can win the LEMAR fight and get decent marijuana laws in the United States.” – “High Court Frees High Priest, Opens Way For New Marijuana Laws”, Michael R. Aldrich, The Marijuana Review, Vol. 1, #3, Jun-Aug 1969, p.5

[8] “A University of Toronto graduate student yesterday claimed to have 3,300 student signatures on a petition asking the Government to legalize and control the sale of marijuana. Ian Mason, a philosophy graduate, presented the petition in a brief to the Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs at a noon meeting in Hart House. … A brief presented later in the day at St. Lawrence hall asked that marijuana be made available in much the same manner as alcohol.”
3,000 students sign pro-marijuana petition — by the Globe and Mail, October 18, 1969

http://beatles.ncf.ca/ledain_petition.html

[9] “Legalization of Marijuana. We want marijuana legalized so that the drug laws can no longer be used as a weapon to drive poor hip people out of Gastown, or even send us to jail, while more affluent people who may also smoke marijuana are made welcome in the area’s emporiums of plastic.”
. . .And the Pigs went MAD!
By David Malmo Levine, with Dana Larsen – Tuesday, April 30 1996
http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/articles/1102.html

[10] – “San Francisco Crime Committee Recommends Repeal Of Prohibition”, The Marijuana Review, Vol. 1, #8, Oct-Dec. 1971, p. 11

[11] The official ballot summary was, “Removes state penalties for personal use. Proposes a statute which would provide that no person eighteen years or older shall be punished criminally or denied any right or privilege because of his planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, processing, otherwise preparing, transporting, possessing or using marijuana. Does not repeal existing, or limit future, legislation prohibiting persons under the influence of marijuana from engaging in conduct that endangers others.”

http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Marijuana_Legalization,_Proposition_19_%281972%29

[12] After Legalization, What Happens to Dealers? Editorial, High Times #5. August/Sept. 1975, p. 6

[13] “Unlike so many other industries that we seem to have little control over, the paraphernalia game is one that we, the dopers of the world, have fashioned to our needs. There is still time to influence events in such a way that it is neither crushed by the rush of big business into the marijuana market, nor transformed into a system of gross monopolies.” – Editorial, High Times #9, May 1976, p. 8

[14] “Dr. Mikuriya … favors complete legalization of marijuana with a one-hundred-plant limit on home cultivation. A founder and organizer of the 1972 California Marijuana Initiative (a statewide referendum for legalization), he believes such a limit would counterbalance exploitation of pot by the government and commercial interests. “If we had that same provision allowed after Prohibition was repealed – where you allow a 250-gallon limit on wine and home brew – why the hell can’t we allow that kind of thing for grass?” – “Ex-Top U.S. Pot Researcher Runs for California State Senate”, High Times #12, August, 1976, p. 71

[15] “Be it resolved that NORML adopt a policy for full legalization of marijuana. One that clearly opposes government manipulation of grass legislation, will protect the trade, the Third World growers and the neighbourhood dealers who’ve risked an awful lot of freedom providing us with marijuana.” – Margaret Sarber, 1977 NORML Formal, Blacklisted News, Yippie Book Collective, p. 277

[16] High Times, March 1977, p. 31

[17] Keith Richard, High Times, January 1978, p.27

[18] Stone-Age, Spring 1979, p. 13

[19] Larry Schott, National Director of NORML, HiLife magazine, Vol. 1 #12, 1979 p. 94

[20] Tom Forcade, HiLife magazine, Vol. 2, #1, 1979, p. 46

[21] “We should be free to cultivate and sell and buy this harmless euphoriant.” – Albert Goldman, Grass Roots – Marijuana in America Today, 1979, p. 323

“I think marijuana should not only be legal, I think it should be a cottage industry. There’s some pretty good homegrown dope. ” – Stephen King, High Times, January 1981, reprinted in High Times Greatest Hits, 1994, p. 76

[22] “Ann Arbor Hash Bash crowd: “MARIJUANA!” NORML director Jon Gettman: “Now you know the answer. I got the question. What’s the crop that’s going to save American farmers?” – High Times, July 1989, p. 46

[23] Gatewood Galbraith, High Times, March 1990, p. 14

[24] Economics of Cannabis Legalization (1994) Detailed Analysis of the Benefits of Ending Cannabis Prohibition, June 1994, Dale Gieringer, Ph.D.
Coordinator, California NORML
http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4424

[25] Chris Conrad, Hemp, Lifeline to the Future, 1994, p. 298

[26] Jack Herer, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, 1994 edition, p. 49, 2000 edition, p. 59

[27] Freedom Fighter of the Month – “Mass Cann: It’s a group thing”, High Times, February, 1997, p.34

[28] Hilary Black, founder of the BC Compassion Club Society, High Times, May 2002, p.48

[29] The proposal also requires establishment of a system of regulation for the cultivation, taxation, sale and distribution of marijuana, including the distribution of marijuana at low cost to those medically authorized to use it. Under this system, all advertising of marijuana is prohibited. The purchase of marijuana from licensed establishments is authorized under this proposal. The transportation of marijuana in or out of state is prohibited unless federal law permits such transport. The license fees and taxes at wholesale are proposed to be the same as those for cigarettes and tobacco related products, respectively. The retail sales tax for marijuana is proposed to be the same as those of other products generally.

http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Nevada_Question_9_%282002%29

[30] Philippe Lucas, Hilary Black and Rielle Capler, “A Roadmap to Compassion”, 02/18/04, http://safeaccess.ca/library/index.htm

[31] “Internationally, regulated legalization will require a transition from underground organizations to globally recognized economic actors. Existing drug trafficking and producing organizations will have to be either bought out or integrated into the global marketplace.” – Imagining a Post-Prohibition World, Phil Smith, Under the Influence – The Disinformation Guide to Drugs, 2004, p. 16

[32] “First, legalization eliminates arrests for trafficking in addition to eliminating arrests for possession.” – The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, June 2005, Jeffrey A. Miron
http://prohibitioncosts.org/mironreport.html

[33] “We recognize that the current model of prohibition has provided and/or supplemented incomes for individuals and families who grow, import, wholesale and retail currently illegal drugs. As with the end of alcohol prohibition, there needs to be a process by which these criminalized individuals and groups can participate in the new legal distribution process and thereby facilitate their integration into non-criminalized activities and employment.” Susan Boyd, Mark Haden, “Principles of Post-Prohibition Drug Control”, Creative Resistance against Drug Prohibition, circa 2006

[34] “We believe in natural, open markets and level playing fields.” – Steve Kubby, High Times, Oct. 2008, p. 76

“Seventy years later, what we know for certain is that nobody should have a monopoly on the emerging herbal health-care economy, including medical marijuana …” – Dr. Lester Grinspoon and David Malmo-Levine, Patented Pot VS. The Herbal Gold Standard, High Times, 35th Anniversary Issue, Nov. 2009, p. 98

Our core position is that the regulation of cultivation, ownership, and distribution of cannabis among adults is best undertaken outside the courts, via taxation, and the force of social and cultural opinion
http://www.masscann.org/about-mass-cann

[35] http://youthfederation.com/cchhi2012.html

[36] http://www.legalize2012.com/

[37] http://californiacannabisinitiative.org/index.php/our-initiative.html [email protected]

[38] This measure would remove state civil and criminal penalties for persons eighteen years or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana. Marijuana would no longer be defined as a “controlled substance.” Civil and criminal penalties relating to drug paraphernalia and provisions authorizing seizure or forfeiture of property would not apply to marijuana related offenses committed by persons eighteen years or older. The measure would retain current restrictions and penalties applicable to persons under eighteen.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Initiative_1068_%282010%29

[39] “History shows that the best way to end prohibition is to simply repeal prohibition language. In 1932 Washington was one of the states that repealed prohibition on alcohol through a statewide initiative. The initiative removed all state laws criminalizing alcohol, leaving the Legislature the task of creating regulations, which it did. Their initiative language gave nothing for the Federal Government to attack since it simply removed state prohibition laws and nothing new was being added that would conflict with Federal law.”
http://sensiblewashington.org/blog/about/

[40] “Walker’s analysis led him to conclude that a small majority of the individuals who turned out to vote this year in Massachusetts supported legalizing and regulating cannabis in the same way the state does alcohol.”

Analysis: Massachusetts Ready To Legalize Marijuana In 2012
By Steve Elliott, Friday, Nov. 5 2010
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2010/11/analysis_massachusetts_ready_to_legalize_marijuana.php

[41] “Our Highest Priority”, High Times Medical Marijuana, Winter 2011, p. 16

[42] Harvest, Issue #2, 1979, p. 6

[43] Drugs Policy in the Netherlands – Continuity and Change, Oct. 1995, Dutch Ministry of Heath, Welfare and Sport, P. 68

[44] “If, as expected, the Dutch parliament agrees the latest proposals, half the country’s 4000 cannabis-selling coffee shops will close and the amount that can be sold to an individual will be cut to 5 g.”

THE LANCET
Volume 346, Number 8985, November 11 1995
http://www.cfdp.ca/lancet.htm

[45] “Most draconian of all, non new (Dutch) coffeeshop permits will be issued and ownership will be non-transferable after two years.” High Times, May 1997, p. 97

[46] “Some member states of the European Union (especially France), are putting pressure on Holland to conform to their repressive drug laws. This has resulted in the introduction of new drug policies that, while still more liberal than elsewhere, reflect a regressive trend in the thinking of the Dutch authorities.” – Get Lost! The cool guide to Amsterdam, Joe Pauker, 1997, p. 51

[47] Marijuana Cafes Crackdown To Start In Netherlands
Huffington Post, Dec. 3, 2010

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/03/marijuana-cafes-crackdown_n_791507.html

[48] Norm Stamper, “War on Crime, not on Drugs”, 2005
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/22227/?page=3

[49] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_Stamper

[50] http://yeson19.com/index.php/pages/initiative

[51] http://yeson19.com/node/6

[52] Section 11300: Personal Regulation and Controls
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be a public offense under California law for any person 21 years of age or older to:

(ii) Cultivate, on private property by the owner, lawful occupant, or other lawful resident or guest of the private property owner or lawful occupant, cannabis plants for personal consumption only, in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence or, in the absence of any residence, the parcel. Cultivation on leased or rented property may be subject to approval from the owner of the property. Provided that, nothing in this section shall permit unlawful or unlicensed cultivation of cannabis on any public lands.
http://yeson19.com/node/6

[53] http://palmspringsbum.org/blog/2010/10/the-real-debate-over-californias-proposition-19/

[54] Section 11301: Commercial Regulations and Controls
Notwithstanding any other provision of state or local law, a local government may adopt ordinances, regulations, or other acts having the force of law to control, license, regulate, permit or otherwise authorize, with conditions, the following:
(b) retail sale of not more than one ounce per transaction, in licensed premises, to persons 21 years or older, for personal consumption and not for resale;
(g) prohibit and punish through civil fines or other remedies the possession, sale, possession for sale, cultivation, processing, or transportation of cannabis that was not obtained lawfully from a person pursuant to this section or section 11300;
http://yeson19.com/node/6

[55]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7oCiUY6lZk&feature=player_embedded#! – starting at 8:20

[56] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Senate_Bill_420

[57] http://www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform/californias-medical-marijuana-laws-get-nod-court

[58]
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/los-angeles-city-council-approves-pot-ordinance-requiring-1000-foot-buffer-zones.html

[59] Arguably, the exact same parental hysteria scapegoating method that has been used against the Jews for well over 2000 years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_libel

[60] L.A. Pot Ordinance: Dispensaries Lose Allison Margolin Wednesday, 20 January 2010

http://www.celebstoner.com/201001213615/blogs/allison-margolin/la-pot-ordinance-dispensaries-lose.html

[61] “This bill would provide that no medical marijuana cooperative, collective, dispensary, operator, establishment, or provider authorized by law to possess, cultivate, or distribute medical marijuana and that has a storefront or mobile retail outlet which ordinarily requires a local business license shall be located within a 1,000-foot 600-foot radius of a school any public or private school providing instruction in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive , as specified.”
BILL NUMBER: AB 2650
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY APRIL 8, 2010

http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_2601-2650/ab_2650_bill_20100528_amended_asm_v96.html

[62] Oppose AB 2650 – Protect patients’ access statewide!
April 10th, 2010, Don Duncan
http://safeaccessnow.org/blog/?p=697

“Americans for Safe Access (ASA] needs your help to stop a bill that would make it harder to open medical cannabis collectives statewide. AB 2650 would require that new collectives be located at least 1,000 feet from schools in every city and county in California. We dont need another unnecessary hurdle to safe access in California. Call your Assembly Representative on the Appropriations Committee and ask him or her to vote no on AB 2650.

AB 2650 is sponsored by law enforcement lobbyists who oppose medical cannabis. This bill is an effort to roll back safe access to medicine under the guise of public safety. Research conducted by ASA shows that well regulated collectives reduce crime and complaints. In fact, collectives can help improve neighborhoods. There is no need to adopt a statewide rule that treats collectives like nuisances. We should let cities and counties decide what is best for their communities.”
May 18, 2010

[63] “Los Angeles has declared that just 41 out of 169 medipot-shops in the city are eligible to remain in business. This will likely mean more law suits (30 have already been filed) in the wake of the Jan. 26 ordinance banning most of L.A.’s dispensaries. Businesses that registered before Nov. 13, 2007 were allowed to apply for eligibility. In order to qualify, management and ownership must have stayed the same since then and have no criminal records, and the stores couldn’t have moved (unless they were booted by landlords who were warned by the DEA).”
L.A. Dispensaries: And Then There Were 41 Thursday, 26 August 2010
http://www.celebstoner.com/201008264739/news/marijuana-news/la-dispensaries-then-there-were-41.html

“Los Angeles city officials announced Wednesday that only 41 medical marijuana dispensaries are eligible to stay in business under the city’s restrictive ordinance, a number so low that the city will suspend the winnowing process and ask a judge to rule that it is legal.”
“Only 41 medical marijuana dispensaries eligible to stay in business, Los Angeles officials say”
August 25, 2010 | 8:30 pm
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/08/only-41-medical-marijuana-dispensaries-eligible-to-stay-in-business-los-angeles-officials-say.html

[64] Richard Lee, High Times, Nov. 2010, p. 80

[65] http://dwiattorneysloane.blogspot.com/2010/07/small-marijuana-growers-oppose.html

[66] – Kate McLean. “Pot: Semi-legal, Sold Everywhere”, The Bay Citizen. Jun. 5, 2010
http://www.baycitizen.org/marijuana/story/legal-largely-unregulated-world-pot-pot/

[67] Valerie Corral, High Times Medical Marijuana News and Reviews #3, Nov. 2010, p. 68

[68] Stephen DeAngelo, Owner of Harborside Health Center – the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2010/08/07/Medical-pot-at-center-of-California-battle/UPI-62461281215616/

[69] “Boutique buds: What underground mom-and-pop growers did while we debated legalization”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/22/AR2010102205568_5.html

[70] J. Tony Serra, lawyer of Huey Newton, Dennis Peron, The White Panthers, and Earth First! http://www.freetainted.com/weblog/2009/08/10/j.tony-serra…legal-legend-cannabis-consumer-and-patient

[71] Omar Figueroa, personal communication – californiacannabisinitiative.com – [email protected]

[72] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pin8fbdGV9Y

[73] http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/stoners-against-legalization/Content?oid=2018142

[74]http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2010/09/28/daily-roundup-stoners-against-legalization-team-up-with-ex-crackhead-priest

[75] http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/11/stoners-against-legalization-3-most-pot-friendly-counties-cali-reject-prop-19

[76] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kc_Kimber/10-lessons-learned-from-m_b_779959_66531223.html

[77] http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&safe=off&q=%22Los+Angeles%22+Restaurants&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&safe=off&q=%22Los+Angeles%22+Bars&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

[78] Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This Saturday, THC Show Covers Maine’s Monopoly Medical Marijuana Dispensary Racket

http://www.mikecann.net/2010/11/this-saturday-thc-show-covers-maines.html

[79] “The New Jersey Compassionate Medical Use Act mandates the Health Department to establish regulations for the operation of up to six state-licensed “alternative treatment centers” (ATCs). These not-for-profit facilities will be the sole entities legally allowed to produce and dispense medical marijuana to authorized patients. As of this writing, the application process and fees for those wishing to operate an ATC have not been determined.” – High Times Medical Marijuana News and Reviews #2, 2010, p. 48

[80] Jeffrey Steinborn, Legal Eagle, High Times March 1998, p. 69. See also:

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Washington_Marijuana_Decriminalization,_Initiative_685_%281997%29

[81] Kirk Tousaw, Facebook post, November 5, 2010, at 7:45pm

[82] Second choice for “traitor” at audioenglish.net. http://www.audioenglish.net/dictionary/traitor.htm

[83] http://votetaxcannabis2010.blogspot.com/p/prop-19-ma-and-pa-are-out-of-work-and_26.html

[84] http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/node/19879

http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/node/19176

http://www.potshot.ca/pm/index.php?n=Main.Potshot19

http://hemp-ethanol.blogspot.com/2008/01/economics-history-and-politics-of-hemp.html

http://votetaxcannabis2010.blogspot.com/p/prop-19-ma-and-pa-are-out-of-work-and_26.html

http://store.innertraditions.com/Product.jmdx?action=displayDetail&id=3785&searchString=978-1-59477-368-6&textTypeIdDisplay=693&displayHandleGroup=PRODUCT_HANDLE%2C_ONIX_PRODUCT_&selectedTextTypeKeynames=04

David Malmo-Levine

Comments

29 Comments

  1. Bruce W. Cain on

    As an activist and a child of the 60’s I would easily rate this one of the top 100 articles that every activist MUST read. My MERP Model represents “true legalization” whereby all adults can grow without taxation or regulation. And upon any objective analysis it is the only sensible way forward despite the greater burden it creates upon the activist community.

    I knew Jack Herer very well from 1989 until shortly before his death. This passage from the Emperor needs to be our compass towards a true free market in Marijuana consumption and cultivation:

    =====
    From Prop 19 opponent Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes (edited by Chris Conrad) we have a similar sentiment (in both the 1994 edition and the 2000 edition):

    “This decentralized green economy will enable everyone to participate and share in the wealth of a truly free market democracy. For there can be no true democracy unless every citizen has the opportunity to share in the wealth of the nation.” [26]
    =====

    MERP continues to evolve but I recommend that all activists take the time to read the 50+ ariticles that I have done in support of the MERP “Tomato” Model:

    Because Marijuana is Safer that Beer . . .
    How About We Start Treating It That Way?
    MERP Headquarters
    The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy Project (MRPP)= “MERP”
    http://www.newagecitizen.com/MERP.htm

  2. David Malmo-Levine on

    … just read all the quotes in the citation section … I hid the other half there.

  3. Lygeia on

    I, for one, am glad you wrote this article.

    Thank you.

    I would be interested in reading the other half.

  4. David Malmo-Levine on

    Peter Reynolds … you wrote in your blog, that “Just as in California, where the growers sabotaged Proposition 19, so we have our own subversive and destructive elements.”

    Maybe the growers sabotaged Prop 19 because the authors of Prop 19 didn’t include all the growers into the legal economy.

    Even the organization you currently belong to denounced the very caps that Prop 19 failed to remove when they were first floated as an idea. From my blog above:

    “Suitable firms, probably from the tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceutical industries would be licensed to produce, manufacture, and market cannabis … Commenting on the regulatory licensing system suggestion, the British “Legalize Cannabis Campaign (LCC)” said in a pre-publication press release: … “this kind of ‘big daddy’ approach would not be appreciated and that people would be less than happy with handing over the dealing business, lock, stock, and barrel, to any of the industries mentioned above.” [42]

  5. Blair T. Longley on

    I also look forward to reading David Malmo-Levine because I expect he will be comprehensive …

    My bla, bla, blah on the marijuana system goes through the money system to the murder system.

  6. David Malmo-Levine on

    “I am genuinely distressed that your words will have less effect than they deserve because they are uncontrolled, excessive and, I’m sorry, in the end, boring.”

    Well my editor Jeremiah wasn’t bored and he reads stuff like this for a living so he knows boring from not boring. Steve Bloom liked it so much that he reposted it on the AROUND THE WEB section of his website:

    http://www.celebstoner.com/

    But for those of you who find my work boring because it’s comprehensive, console yourself with the fact that almost every other writer limits themselves to thesis that are so uncontroversial that they do not require massive amounts of evidence to support them – if you support all forms of legalization no matter what the burden of proof on you is much lighter than if you question the tactics of someone else in the movement.

    We are all faced with the choice of being called “irrelevant” for not addressing contentious topics, “inaccurate” for not being convincing enough or “boring” for being too convincing – I choose “boring”.

    And if you think you can do a better job then I welcome you to try – we all must become the researchers, writers and advocates we wish to see in the world. Submit your blog to Jeremiah – he loves to read new submissions!

  7. Lygeia on

    I like long articles.

    I look forward to reading David Malmo-Levine because I know he will be comprehensive.

  8. Peter Reynolds on

    I admire your effort very much indeed but it is diminshed by its length. Such a bad mistake when you have so much of value to say!

    Less is always more.

    I am genuinely distressed that your words will have less effect than they deserve because they are uncontrolled, excessive and, I’m sorry, in the end, boring.

    Please take responsibility and do what every good writer should do and put yourself in your reader’s shoes.

    Cut it in half at least!

    http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/the-cannabis-campaign-in-2011/

  9. David Malmo-Levine on

    “There is an impediment you have not mentioned – one of arsewipe Anslinger’s legacies – international anti-drug conventions.”

    Myth #2: The Single Convention Treaty prevents any country from fully legalizing cannabis – decriminalization is the best we can hope for until all 108 countries amend or withdraw from the treaties all at once:

    “Several groups in the United States are loudly agitating to liberalize controls, and, in fact, to legalize it’s use. In the convention it is very specific that we must prevent it’s misuse. If the United States becomes a party to the 1961 convention we will be able to use our treaty obligations to resist legalized use of marijuana. … Now, 108 nations would have to amend it or denounce it. But the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are the only three countries trying to legalize marijuana.”
    – Harry Anslinger, quoted in Larry Sloman’s 1998 “Reefer Madness”, pp. 227, 248

    “In his brief to Cabinet, national health and welfare minister John Munro listed several reasons to justify the rejection of legalization: among them he cited potential health risks, a possible increase in the number of users, and Canada’s obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.”
    “Not This Time – Canadians, Public Policy, and the Marijuana Question 1961 – 1975”, Marcel Martel, p. 184, see also pp. 171, 205, 207

    “The (2009 World Drug Report) report, released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on “World Drug Day,” also puts to rest concerns that decriminalization doesn’t comply with international treaties, which prevent countries from legalizing drugs.”
    http://whyprohibition.ca/blogs/jacob-hunter/un-backs-drug-decriminalizat

    Facts #2: The drug treaties have some sovereignty exceptions you could drive a Dutch pot café through and other medical and scientific exceptions that nobody has attempted to use yet. The treaties can be amended or withdrawn from without penalty. Human rights treaties may very well trump drug control treaties if they are ever weighed in court:

    According to more than one leading legal expert on the subject, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention on Prohibition Against Trafficking are – on the surface – all about prohibiting the sale of cannabis and other “dangerous” drugs, but in reality these treaties are rife with exceptions that would allow for almost any type of legal cannabis cultivation and distribution model to exist. (8) The most surprising fact about the treaties is that Holland has signed all of them. (9) By arguing that “expediency” (meaning “it just works better this way”) is part of Dutch sovereignty, and sovereignty is explicitly guaranteed in all the treaties, Holland has determined it can have as many cannabis cafes as it wants without having to amend or withdraw from the treaties. Arguably all countries are as sovereign as Holland and expediency applies in every case – but Holland is the only country that as stated so publicly. Arguably Holland could apply the sovereignty/expediency principle to cultivation and importation, but they have yet to do so.

    Article 4 .c of the 1961 Treaty specifies that “Subject to the provisions of this Convention, to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.” (10) Isn’t all cannabis use “medical”? Joints don’t magically become “non-medicine” in mid air when a sick person passes one to a healthy person. Arguably, all it would take to legalize all cannabis production, manufacture, export, import, distribution, use and possession in Canada is an acknowledgement by the courts and/or Parliament that “recreation” or “social” drug use – what is currently seen as “non-medicinal” drug use – is actually a form of “preventive medicine” in that it’s an informal treatment for stress, depression and fatigue.

    Article 47 of the 1961 Treaty allows a party to propose an amendment to the Convention. Article 46 allows a party to withdraw its consent from the Convention by formally denouncing it. There are no penalties specified for these actions in either of these articles. (11)

    According to Glenn Gilmour of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy;

    “In addition to these international conventions dealing with drug use, there are a number of other international human rights conventions to which Canada is a signatory. It is essential to keep those in mind as well. … The argument would be that, consistent with our heritage as a people who believe in fundamental rights, the provisions of these international human rights treaties should be taken into account in determining the full scope to which we should be entering into drug conventions; international trafficking treaties and the like.” (12)

    Mr. Gilmore mentions the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 as one of the treaties that Canada should use to temper the Drug control treaties with. Arguably there are passages within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights treaty of 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide treaty of 1948 and The United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery treaty that also may outweigh the drug control treaties – or at least permit a reevaluation of Canada’s obligations under the drug control treaties.

    DESCRIMinalization: Decrim Myths, Decrim Facts
    By David Malmo-Levine, Cannabis Culture – Thursday, October 1 2009

  10. paul on

    There is an impediment you have not mentioned – one of arsewipe Anslinger’s legacies – international anti-drug conventions. In my country, New Zealand, the Law Commission is reviewing our misuse of drugs laws. One of their conditions for any change is that it complies with international conventions as they consider we are required to uphold them. I realise the UN is not given much consideration by Americans from the U$A, but what about those from Canada? The danger is that a lot of people can spend a lot of time and energy arguing about the detail of something that is going to be vetoed from above. These top down controls need to be avoided.

    Even if legalisation were to happen (regardless of international conventions or even after the conventions have been changed)I think the concerns about cannabis being dominated by transnationals pathetic. Cannabis isn’t called a weed for nothing! And if someone isn’t capable growing some plants themselves (perhaps joining a local cannabis club) or having friends/relatives do it for them, then they’ve got problems that legalising cannabis isn’t going to solve! As Ask Ed says – tomaytoes! Or maybe St Johns Wort or plant like that.

  11. Anonymous on

    Some issues seem relevant to ensuring that small-scale operations would still be viable as anything but a hobby under legalization.

    1) The relationship between quality and number of plants. The greater the number, generally the lower the quality (The Canadian Government supplier is an excellent example). This may be remedied by increasing the number of qualified employees, but then if you have qualified employees, you better pay them good or they will run off and start their own operations. In fact, who needs someone telling you what to do at all? Better pay those qualified employees reaaaallly good. This would seem like a good thing on the face of it, but then corporations will try to figure out ways to control employees by making it difficult to make a go on their own. This puts pressure on the government, in the form of big business lobbies, to restrict small operations.

    2) The relationship between the size of the operation and its competitiveness. A large operation with lots of funding and corporate backing can run down the price of weed to the point that it is impossible for small scale operations to compete. They do this for a few years, as an investment, drive small guys out of the market, lobby for restrictions on small operations (when there’s not enough left to fund a significant protest), and then push the prices back up. It’s an old game. This is why I think corporations and big business and anyone with too much money in their pocket should be excluded from playing. If they can’t get their foot in the door, they can’t screw with the little guys.

    If you let big business and corporations in, you are setting up the industry for pressures that will ultimately, eventually, destroy small-scale operations. I believe that we need to keep them out from the start, put up big walls to their involvement, to keep it good for the small grower for as long as possible.

    The playing field is not level. Free markets are not free, they are schoolyards where big corporations are bullies and run around beating the crap out of every little kid (small business) they can find and stealing their lunch money. If activists don’t craft a vision of legalization that recognizes this fact, it will be a tough sell to most growers. Forget the moms and pops, even today’s so-called big boys will have a tough time in a price-war against multi-billionaire George Soros and the Rothschild fortune.

    Since growers are a huge potential source of revenue for a true grassroots legalization movement, it behooves activists to figure out what they want and give it to them. Either that or sell their asses to Soros and proposition 19. You can’t have legalization without money, and you’ve got to get it somewhere.

  12. David Malmo-Levine on

    … but I think large grows are OK just so long as small ones are allowed to compete.

    I don’t think there should be limits on the number of plants one can grow. I think commercial operations should be 101 plants or more.

    I believe there are many opportunities for conflicts of interest to occur in the over-lap between cannabis policy makers and corporations (or even the CIA). That’s why I would watch closely George Soros and see if he is shaping policy to benefit his investments in Monsanto, or if James Woolsey (ex head of the CIA) is shaping policy to benefit his old pals at the CIA:

    http://naihc.org/NAIHC_overview/board.html#Woolsey

  13. David Malmo-Levine on

    “Yeah, 215 dropped prices! Thank God the sick and poor can now afford it. What world do you live in? A Pound still costs $3000, 6 times the price of Silver and 28,000 times the price of corn.”

    There are two assumptions you are making that are incorrect.

    Assumption 1: just because your own personal dealer hasn’t dropped the price of a pound doesn’t mean that everyone else’s dealer hasn’t:

    Plummeting Marijuana Prices Create A Panic In Calif.

    by Michael Montgomery

    May 15, 2010

    For decades, illegal marijuana cultivation has been an economic lifeblood for three counties in northern California known as the Emerald Triangle.

    The war on drugs and frequent raids by federal drug agents have helped support the local economy — keeping prices for street sales of pot high and keeping profits rich.

    But high times are changing. Legal pot, under the guise of the California’s medical marijuana laws, has spurred a rush of new competition. As a result, the wholesale price of pot grown in these areas is plunging.

    Demand Not Meeting Supply

    In 1983, the Reagan administration launched a massive air and ground campaign to eradicate pot and lock up growers in northern California. Charley Custer, a writer and community activist, had just arrived to Humboldt County from Chicago. With the Reagan crackdown, Custer recalls, wholesale prices shot up — to as high as $5,000 a pound. That sudden and ironic windfall for those growers willing to risk prison time transformed the community.

    What’s happening is the people that don’t have quality product aren’t selling it. So they’re the ones that are creating this panic. So it really comes back down to that, just like in every other agricultural industry. When you get too many vineyards and too many people growing vines out there, then only the good ones make it.

    – Tim Blake, former underground grower who now cultivates medical marijuana

    “A lot of people were living on welfare and peanut butter and banana sandwiches for a long time before pot made it possible to be part of the middle class,” Custer says.

    Nearly 30 years later, Custer says that boom may be over.

    “Outdoor growers are having a hard time unloading their fall harvest,” Custer says. “And this is six months later and when some people do move it, they don’t get nearly the price they were hoping for.”

    That goes for both legal growers who cultivate limited quantities of pot under the medical marijuana laws and illegal operators who often grow larger amounts.

    Prices are now much less than $2,000 a pound, according to interviews with more than a dozen growers and dealers. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman says some growers can’t get rid of their processed pot at any price.

    “We arrested a man who had … 800 pounds of processed,” Allman says. “Eight hundred pounds of processed. And we asked him: ‘What are you going to do with 800 pounds of processed?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.'”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126806429

    Assumption 2: Prop 19, with it’s separation of dealers into the “licensed legals” and the “unlicensed illegals”, was not going to have a cartelization effect on the marketplace.

    Myth #16: The price of marijuana will drop.
    Fact: The value of marijuana might decrease if it becomes more commercially available and more people grow their own, but the price of a product depends less on its value and more on the degree of competition that exists with regard to selling it. Since your options for purchasing marijuana would be among only a handful of licensed dispensaries in the state, there is no guarantee of a decrease in price. Less competition means higher prices.

    Indeed, by AgraMed’s own estimation, in order to make $59 million a year off 58 pounds per day, they would have to charge $175 per ounce wholesale (roughly $2,800 per pound)—and that’s if they produced 58 pounds 365 days a year. If they managed to produce that output only 5 days a week, that price would leap to $245 an ounce (about $3900 per pound). With shelf-prices at dispensaries often set at double the wholesale purchase price—not to mention the compulsory tax added onto every ounce (which Richard Lee stated in an interview was “recommended” to be $50)—the price of marijuana could potentially be higher than it is in our current market, in which the price of a pound has already fallen to $2,000, according to a recent National Public Radio report; a direct result of healthy competition, not its opposite.[29]

    http://votetaxcannabis2010.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-pro-pot-activists-oppose-2010-tax.html

    As was pointed out in “Legalization For All”:

    “Community based cultivation would take advantage of the extensive genetic pool and knowledge residing within those currently engaged in the grey-market production and distribution of therapeutic cannabis. This would significantly improve the quality, expand the selection and lower the cost of the supply.” [30]

    As I believe I have demonstrated in the analysis of Prop 19 in “Legalization For All”, Prop 19 was the opposite of “community-based cultivation”.

  14. Anonymous on

    Thanks for the excellent article, David. I think it’s interesting that Proposition 19 was backed by free-trade engineer and billionaire George Soros (
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/10/multibillionaire-investor-george-soros-backs-proposition-19.html). Certainly his idea of legalization would be corporation friendly. I think you make some excellent points here, and I may have shifted my view on this topic a little as a result of the evidence you presented.

    I would like to offer the idea that perhaps legalization could be crafted in such a way that it would allow each grower to only produce a certain amount of marijuana every year, and expressly forbid large-scale operations and corporate involvement. Perhaps it could be specifically reserved for people who make under a certain amount of money each year from any other source. I’m not attached to these ideas, but I’m throwing them out there for potential debate. I believe it is important to keep big business out of weed.

  15. Anonymous on

    ‘The caps are bad & the status quo is better’ is what those in opposition to Prop 19 are stubbornly & foolishly claiming. It’s sometimes better to make small progress rather than none (e.g. this instance). “Holland isn’t liberal enough so I’d rather have the CA-style police state” is a bad stance… it doesn’t make practical sense… ‘practical’ being the operative term! We should be practical for the sake of ethical & intellectual progression hence Prop 19 should have passed.

  16. Toby on

    “I want it all or I want none” says the guy who wrote this lengthy piece; he chose ‘none’ & that probably wasn’t the best option. Ethical & intellectual progress sometimes should come about slowly (e.g. Prop 19) because the alternative is less progress (e.g. current state of CA cannabis law).

  17. Anonymous on

    Yeah, 215 dropped prices! Thank God the sick and poor can now afford it. What world do you live in? A Pound still costs $3000, 6 times the price of Silver and 28,000 times the price of corn.

  18. Anonymous on

    Great article, David. I think it’s time to write your PhD!

  19. David Malmo-Levine on

    “Too long! Trim it, or get someone to edit.”

    Those writers who don’t say controversial things need not produce massive amounts of evidence to make their points. I’m not one of those writers.

    “I did see this: “The alcohol model DOES imply licensing but DOES NOT imply a small and/or limited number of licenses.” In the US, you don’t need a license to make up to 100gal of beer (and 100gal of wine) per year in your household. Double that if there are 2 or more adults in the household. So no, the alcohol model does NOT imply licensing.”

    Commercial alcohol sales does imply licensing. I support a lack of licensing on both home-brews and home-grows, and reasonable regulations on commercial operations of any kind.

    “It only leaves one question: what is to be the hemp equivalent of that limit, in my backyard garden.”

    Jack Herer and Dr. Tod Mikuriya both supported 99 plants – I can live with that.

  20. David Malmo-Levine on

    “It is hard to argue Prop 19 was not inclusive when it allowed (25 Sq. Ft x 50W/Sq. Ft. x 1.5LB/1000W x 4 Cycles/Year = 7.5 Lbs/Year) per home…”

    Not “per home” … you needed your landlord’s permission, and if the landlord felt that the Feds might not respect Prop 19 (and the Feds threatened not to respect it) and confiscate homes that had pot gardens (well within the rights of the feds) they did not have to give permission.

    This changed the rules of California, which currently do not require the landlord’s permission for a pot garden under 215.

    Furthermore, if you lived in a place such as Rancho Cordova, they could tax you up to 600 dollars per square foot – or $15,000 per year – for your little garden:

    “The tax, which makes no distinction between medical and recreational cultivation, would cost a resident $15,000 a year if he or she cultivates pot in a 5-foot-by-5-foot growing space indoors. The measure would allow the city to lower the tax. The tax proposal is drawing the ire of Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group for medical marijuana. “I think that will have the effect of essentially banning legal cultivation,” Duncan said. “I don’t know anyone who is prepared to pay $600 a square foot.” Rancho Cordova Mayor Ken Cooley said the city is protecting its interests should California voters approve Proposition 19. The state initiative, also on the Nov. 2 ballot, would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults over 21, allow small residential cultivation and permit cities to tax retail pot sales.” – Rancho Cordova asking voters to OK tax on homegrown pot for personal use, Peter Hecht, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010, The Sacramento Bee

    “We’re coming across city ordinances that are saying – especially because of Proposition 19 – that ‘yes you can grow as much as you need as long as you’re growing in a 5 by 5 area.’ That is really a limiting proposition that’s coming across. We have cities in Rancho Cordova and we also have cities in Eureka that as of September 3rd, our patients – right now – have to grow in a five by five area. But this is part of the regulations that can be set only by local governments. Right now we can actually file and say ‘that is unconstitutional – it’s against Proposition 215 and we’re going to challenge that.’ However you can’t challenge it if Proposition 19 goes through because it’s the will of the people to give each local government the ability to tax, regulate and control.” – Lanette Davies, spokesperson for Crusaders for Patient Rights, Prop 19 debate at HempCon, Los Angeles, Sept. 2010

    Prop 19 opened up gardens for “unlimited” taxation – something 215 most certainly did not do.

    “…and did not touch plant limits under the Medical Marijuana laws.”

    I guess you didn’t read my article. This issue was under dispute. My feelings was that Bill Panzer – the only lawyer who had anything to do with the creation of Prop 215 – said it best when he said:

    “If an appellate court were inclined to find that Prop 19 preserved all 215/420 rights, there is language in 19 to support that. If, on the other hand, an appellate court was inclined to find that 19 allowed local municipalities to impinge on 215/420, there is language that could support that position too. The bottom line is that the body of the statute could have clearly stated that local municipalities are not authorized to pass any ordinance or regulation that infringes on 215/420 in any manner, but it doesn’t.”

    http://palmspringsbum.org/blog/2010/10/the-real-debate-over-californias-proposition-19/

    The problem was that there was nowhere in Prop 19 where med pot cultivation rights were explicitly protected. Section 2b7 and 2b8 were where supporters of Prop 19 claim that med pot rights were protected. But if you read them you will be unable to find explicit protection for med pot CULTIVATION rights anywhere:

    7. Ensure that if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal, but that the city’s citizens still have the right to POSSESS AND CONSUME small amounts, except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.

    8. Ensure that if a city decides it does want to tax and regulate the buying and selling of cannabis (to and from adults only), that a strictly controlled legal system is implemented to oversee and regulate cultivation, distribution, and sales, and that the city will have control over how and how much cannabis can be BOUGHT AND SOLD, except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.

    http://yeson19.com/node/6

    All they would have had to do was add “cultivate” to “possess and consume” or
    “grow” to “bought and sold” … but as Panzer pointed out, they didn’t do that.

    “The outspoken dealers, growers, and dispensaries were not happy. They will never be happy.”

    They were happy when they all worked together to pass Prop 215 – because Prop 215 didn’t throw anyone under the bus.

    “Simply put any form of legalization (inclusive, exclusive) will drop the price of weed.”

    215 has for the last few years been dropping the price of weed:

    “the drop in pot prices is in part the result of more growers and a more tolerant legal landscape”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126806429

    – the only way to stop this would be to limit the number of legal growers and dealers to only those with licenses under something like Prop 19. A few dealers can up the price by informal agreements with each other, but if everyone is a dealer then someone will undercut the cartel.

    “We should not bend to the demands of the greedy to pick up their 5% just to lose 5% on the other side of the issue because the greedy will never vote for putting themselves out of business.”

    The people who are supplying you with cannabis (or cannabis seeds) within the black market (or 215) are not greedy so long as they do not take advantage of a discriminatory licensing process to give them exclusive privilege so that they and only they (or a select few) can sell. Those who support a free inclusive market are simply providing a product that you can simply go elsewhere for if you don’t like the price – those favoring an exclusive market are attempting to limit your choices artificially so that you won’t have other options and will be forced to pay their price. Only those who do not eliminate exclusivity in their versions of legalization can truly be called “greedy”.

  21. Anonymous on

    It is hard to argue Prop 19 was not inclusive when it allowed (25 Sq. Ft x 50W/Sq. Ft. x 1.5LB/1000W x 4 Cycles/Year = 7.5 Lbs/Year) per home and did not touch plant limits under the Medical Marijuana laws. The outspoken dealers, growers, and dispensaries were not happy. They will never be happy. Simply put any form of legalization (inclusive, exclusive) will drop the price of weed. That means marijuana growers will now just be farmers, dealers will just be salesmen, dispensaries will just be stores, with all of the struggles that legal pricing entails. We should not bend to the demands of the greedy to pick up their 5% just to lose 5% on the other side of the issue because the greedy will never vote for putting themselves out of business. I am just as sure a prison guard will not vote for legalization as I am a grower. 46% is not bad.

  22. rjw on

    I’m from Australia and was all for Prop 19 and didn’t understand why Cannabis activists, such as yourself, were against it. Now I know and I agree. Well done.

  23. Manfred on

    Thanks David

    This is a well thought out article. I agree the caps gotta go!

  24. Anonymous on

    Too long! Trim it, or get someone to edit. I did see this: “The alcohol model DOES imply licensing but DOES NOT imply a small and/or limited number of licenses.” In the US, you don’t need a license to make up to 100gal of beer (and 100gal of wine) per year in your household. Double that if there are 2 or more adults in the household. So no, the alcohol model does NOT imply licensing. It only leaves one question: what is to be the hemp equivalent of that limit, in my backyard garden. In Canada, home distilling is legal. I don’t know the limits (not Canadian). Whatever they are, they should serve as the equivalent for home-made hashish. THAT is the alcohol model. No permits, licensing, paperwork of any kind.