Here’s one look at cannabis in the new millennium.
Bessy’s husband Rick was wounded in the war. In addition to pain and other physical injuries related to his wounds, Rick also experiences post-traumatic stress disorder. Members of his support group recommended he use cannabis for both problems, and after a discussion with his doctors, Bessy and Rick bought some cannabis at a local dispensary.They decided they were going to use it together. They did, it was helpful and they liked it.
Rick’s parents had left them some land, and Bessy already had a nice garden of vegetables underway. She sold some of the surplus at a farmer’s market on the weekend. She decided to try her hand at growing cannabis and went down to the county agricultural office for some advice. There, she learned about strains of cannabis that grew well in the local environment, cultivation techniques and how to protect the plants from local insects and wildlife.
Bessy explained that she was planning to grow cannabis for her and her husband’s personal use, but depending on how well that went, she might want to sell some as well—just like the vegetables from her garden. The agricultural office explained that she could grow up to 25 female plants for personal use and/or small-scale commerce, but for more than that, she needed a permit from the county tax office.
That fall, Rick helped Bessy harvest their 25 plants. After curing and trimming, they ended up with 120 ounces of cannabis, about 7.5 pounds. They decided to keep about 3.5 pounds for their own use and to sell the remaining four pounds. The agricultural office put them in touch with local vendors who bought small amounts of cannabis from small-scale cultivators like themselves but recommended that before they tried to sell their cannabis, they should have it tested to determine its potency and contents. When they got the test results, they went to see a few vendors and eventually sold their extra cannabis for a total of $1,600.
Rick spent the winter reading more about cannabis cultivation.
He and Bessie really enjoyed caring for the plants together, and he valued how cannabis use helped to treat the pain from his war wounds and, along with counseling and his support group, helped to alleviate his PTSD. He had a good job, but the extra income from the surplus cannabis was nice to have. They declared the income on their taxes and spent the rest on some minor improvements to their property—they bought a shed for their tractor and Bessie’s garden equipment.
The next year they planned to grow more cannabis.
Rick and Bessie went down to the county tax office in January and paid for a permit to grow up to 100 plants more than the 25 plant exemption for personal use/small-scale cultivation. The permit cost $500, and they would have to file a special form at the end of the year declaring their income and remitting a special seven percent excise tax on their cannabis sales. They bought five types of seeds, began germinating them in early spring, and realized by early summer that growing this many plants involved a lot of work.
They ran into a few problems, particularly with the local deer population. But consultations with the county agricultural office and other cultivators they had gotten to know helped them find solutions, and Rick and Bessie managed to have a pretty good year. After harvest and testing, they grossed $13,000 from the sale of their cannabis. The vendor they sold to last year had encouraged them to come back, as she was impressed with the quality of their cannabis.
This year, they had five different strains, and two of them turned out very well. The vendor decided to partner with them to produce those 2 strains next year under contract for a guaranteed price. Rick and Bessie were proud of what they had accomplished and delighted to have the extra income (which this year helped them buy Bessie a new car).
They cut a deal with the vendor but only for the same amount of cannabis they had grown this past year. It was a lot of work, and they didn’t think they could, or wanted, to do much more. They filed their reporting form with the county revenue office, paid the excise tax and renewed their permit for the next year.
Bessie and Rick represent one type of cannabis user.
There are many other types.
They are, of course, fictional characters. But their story should be a typical story about cannabis in the United States. Cannabis should be treated like most other agricultural commodities, subject to routine regulations, and something anyone should be able to grow should they care to accept the work and the risk involved in the process.
No monopolies, no prohibitions, no special status as a controlled substance—cannabis should be treated like the elegant botanical compound that it is. This is what having an open and free market look like.
In the new millennium, cannabis and cannabis users should be treated with respect. There should be no special laws, no special restrictions, just a few reasonable regulations. People who use, and/or grow, and/or sell cannabis should be supported by their community and their civil servants rather than controlled by their local police.