In my inaugural Tuesday Radical Rant, I asked High Times readers “What’s your legalization deal-breaker?” What would it take for you to vote against an initiative that purported to legalize marijuana? Here are some of your responses:
Lee from Iowa: I am one who is good with and will vote for any measure that furthers marijuana law reform towards decriminalization. This being said, I’d love to see the people stand to demand unconditional decriminalization.
Lee illustrates one of the problems about marijuana reform discussions. We can’t begin with a baseline set of terms to which everyone will agree. Decriminalization generally refers to making marijuana a non-criminal, non-arrestable offense, yet it is still an offense, like a speeding ticket. I think what Lee is arguing for is deregulation, a system where marijuana is not subject to any rules or penalties whatsoever. That deregulation is also sometimes what some cannabis lovers mean when they say “legalization”.
For the record, complete deregulation might be a deal-breaker for me. Marijuana ain’t tomatoes; it is a mind-altering substance. There ought to be an age limit (though I think it should be eighteen), and adults should be held responsible for keeping it out of children’s hands (except for medical use, of course.) As for your deal-breakers, the bulk of the responses from readers expressed the idea that any movement forward is worthwhile.
Dan from Idaho: I’m with you 100 percent, Russ. We absolutely cannot afford not to stand united. There just aren’t enough of us if we split up into separate camps. Any reform, however small, is better than nothing.
Andy: Nope, no deal breakers, not here! I think we should whittle these prohibitionists down any and every way we can.
Cole: It will be easier to fight a battle for more lenient marijuana regulations after the substance is legalized and shown to be less harmful than first thought.
Kelton: Keep it out of the hands of the greedy corporations—that’s my deal breaker—but honestly, anything is better than nothing.
Speaking of greedy corporations, the biggest deal-breaker I heard about in the comments is ResponsibleOhio’s plan to legalize in Ohio in 2015. Their proposed constitutional amendment writes in the 10 campaign financiers as the sole commercial growers in the state, and that rubs some people the wrong way.
Cory: I’d vote for it, as long as there isn’t a monopoly like Ohio. Other than that, I’ll vote for it, even if it means no home grown.
Michael: Allowing a well-financed group to control the entire state is not the way. We can wait to put more sensible laws in place.
But others think even a constitutional cannabis cartel is preferable to current prohibition.
Randell: Yeah, it sucks that 10 rich dudes are going to get richer if this passes, but look forward a couple of years. After full federal legalization, does anyone really believe that these guys are going to be the only ones growing pot in the Buckeye State?
And one reader made a point I hadn’t even considered, after reflecting on how California’s Prop 215 left their medical marijuana access subject to local bans and moratoria.
Bud from California: My deal-breaker involves something you didn’t list: Local cannabis regulations enacted by cities and counties on a never-ending, piecemeal basis, rather than pre-emptive regulations enacted and enforced consistently at the state level.
Good point, Bud. That’s a fight we’re having here in Oregon, as powerful lobbyists from the cities and counties wish to break our legalization law’s state control over taxation by allowing for local sales taxes on marijuana. They’re also trying to overturn the law’s requirement that the people must vote to ban pot shops, preferring the power to ban on a vote of the city council or the county commission.
Thanks for all your responses. Being out here in “Potland,” overgrown on the “Weed Coast,” our perspective sometimes leads tokers to evaluate a proposed legalization plan against the “true legalization” we all dream of. It’s nice to see so many of our readers evaluating a proposed legalization plan against the prohibition most of us currently have.