The U.S. has seen the cannabis industry booming in recent years much to the government’s dismay. They have spread Reefer Madness, raided patients and dispensaries, threatened state government officials and much more. In 2011 we saw the issue of medical marijuana and cannabis in general covered quite extensively in the mainstream media as well as online.
Federal law has put doctors, patients and state government officials in the middle of a chaotic mess. Currently federal law dictates that marijuana is as harmful and addictive as heroin with no medical benefits. It is listed in the schedule 1 category from the Controlled Substance Act which is above other drugs like cocaine. With the current federal law along with the aggressive actions of the D.O.J. towards California’s state medical marijuana program, the federal government has set the community up for failure. State and city officials have been reluctant to stand up due to legal threats from the D.O.J. Many have been too afraid to be caught in the middle of a legal mess. This has left patients with an unregulated system.
Unfortunately the cannabis industry is still dealing with the black market, which brings along with it many problems. One is that with the proliferation of legitimate dispensaries and business we also saw some that were just a cover for selling drugs. In California, which has had a medical marijuana law on the books for over 15 years, we saw a large number of dispensaries open up in cities across the state. Even smaller towns were not spared resulting in multiple shops opening up.
I personally visited several locations last year all over California and out of all my experiences more often than not they were uneducated pot peddlers, who rushed you in and out, instead of the informed caregivers many Californians had envisioned when they passed their compassion law. I, thankfully, did find locations that were not only knowledgeable but had no problem in explaining to me each strain, how it could help my symptoms as well as any other questions I had. I loved that they actually cared about what they were doing not only for me but the whole community. The general public unfortunately does not see this side and that is a truly sad.
To those that were not involved in the cannabis industry or even had a clue one existed, were shocked to suddenly see so many shops pop up. Along with the number inevitably came location issues. There were reports of dispensaries opening up next door to daycares and schools were the smell of marijuana could be detected. This of course put a black mark on the cannabis community as well in some cases shut it down all together. In CA over 200 cities have banned dispensaries altogether.
What we saw first as our way to legalization has quickly gotten out of control and has threatened to destroy what many have worked so hard to achieve. The government saw the opportunity to use the fear of people along with their lack of true knowledge about cannabis to shut down many cities across the state of California as well as other states. As of today the D.O.J. has sent out many letters across the nation to city and state officials warning of aggressive actions to be taken.
Colorado has demonstrated forward thinking with the regulations they put in place. Colorado’s system went a different route than California in saying that cannabis could be sold for profit. What Colorado did was innovative in that they did not set up a guise of non-profit like California but heavily regulated the industry instead. Now with local law enforcement and the state Medical Marijuana Enforcement division teamed up they can now weed out the legitimate businesses from the black market therefore avoiding harassment. Many cannabis supporters welcomed it because as we have seen no regulations has led to chaos.
In 2010 there were 809 dispensaries, 321 infused product manufacturers and 1230 cultivators registered with the state of Colorado. The state collected $7.34 million in licensing fees alone. Although problems exist in the current laws and ideally we would like it legal for anyone this type of regulations, for now, is better than the alternative we see in CA.
With the booming cannabis industry we also saw the emergence of testing labs. We not only got to see how much THC and CBD content a strain had but we also learned about important things like mold, disease and pest contaminates. We quickly realized that although we love the freedom we currently have to run the cannabis industry it obviously needs regulations. We need healthy, medical-grade (pest, disease and mold free) and a system that helps patients feel confident in their purchase.
If we can get responsible regulations, constructed by a partnership of the cannabis community and government, we will see a successful cannabis industry that could very well help save the budget in those states. Most people today recognize that there are medical benefits to cannabis as well as it not being as harmful as those drugs it is currently listed with. There is proposed legislation that has wide support calling for a rescheduling of cannabis so that states, and more importantly doctors and patients, can decided what is right for them.
Each of us, as citizens and as a person, have a duty to right wrongs. For over 74 years we have seen the government tell us we cannot have safe access to a natural drug, one that has been used for thousands of years for hundreds of uses. We each need to make a difference and stand up and say we will no longer stand for prohibition! We need to reschedule cannabis and allow the states to decide. This issue is a state issue and the 10th amendment should be respected. Tell you representative today!