Disclaimer:The views expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Fresh Toast.
An excellent article in Forbes about the pending legalization of marijuana in New York points out a common failing in various state legalization laws.
I have been very critical of most state legalization policies because of their excessive taxes and “regulations” that raise costs and barriers to entry that make legal products more expensive than black market products.
After real decriminalization that stops arresting marijuana users, even if they aren’t white, the primary objective of legalization should be to take marijuana out of the black market with hard drugs. The Dutch call this the “separation of the markets.” If someone in the Netherlands wants cannabis, they don’t have to go to a poly-drug street dealer; they just go to the nearest “coffeeshop.”
Unfortunately, as the Forbes article points out, the new laws that legalize marijuana growing and sales leave small growers in the black market. That is great for them, until it is a disaster.
Aside from the fact that I have lots of friends who are growers, it is counterproductive to leave these good people behind in the black market. First and foremost, these people are not a social or public health and safety problem. On the contrary.
Of course, small growers cannot supply the mass market, just as homebrewers cannot replace the other Bud. The solution is to create a category for “small” growers who would pay a small licensing fee and comply with reasonable standards for public health and safety. They could create grower cooperatives with their own “brands” that could be sold at “farmers markets”. They might then be able to broaden their markets. They would be subject to the same income taxes as lettuce growers.
Just as the beer and wine businesses were allowed to create craft bars, restaurants, and even resorts around their products, cannabis entrepreneurs should be able to do the same.
Unfortunately, under New Jersey’s new laws, you can buy it, but you can’t even grow one plant for yourself, much less as a small business without dealing with a bureaucracy.
Other states place excessive requirements for permits for retail marijuana sales. Absurdly, some are planning high taxes on retail marijuana sales to pay a sort of “reparations” to minority marijuana users, because their communities have been victimized by the laws the same politicians supported until they belatedly read the polls.
And let’s be blunt. These people will need legal protection because the Prohibitionist propaganda machine has not been turned off. Small growers will continue to be major targets for the narcs. It’s a lot easier to kick down a door in a no-knock raid at a small grow-op than go after a hard drugs dealer.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of A Brief Introduction To Crude Hemp Oil