Ending Prohibition Only Will Happen
with Safe, Reliable, Local and
In my Sept. 25, 2016 newsletter, I wrote about MMRSA vs. AUMA discussing just how bad MCRSA (MMRSA has been renamed the Medical Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act) is highlighting its complex licensing system, allowing cities and counties to ban ALL personal and commercial medicinal marijuana cultivation, ban all commercial distribution and requiring the Calif. Medical Board to crack down on doctors writing “excessive” medical marijuana recs.
I then wrote how AUMA addresses some of these problems by prohibiting cities and counties from banning indoor and greenhouse cultivation, eliminating the transport license, (arguably the most onerous of all the licenses), by protecting the rights of parents to use and grow medical marijuana without having their children taken away, eliminating state sales taxes for patients with the ID card and, what I consider to be one of AUMA’s most redeeming features, the elimination, after five years, of commercial cultivation size limits allowing farmers to engage in large scale cultivation and production of marijuana like any other agricultural crop.
This would result in a steep drop in prices as the high cost of marijuana is a result of its production costs and not its taxes. I opined that having a pound of marijuana at that same price as a pound of coffee, before taxes, would not be unreasonable.
If you would like re-read the column or read it if you are now interested in reading it for the first time CLICK HERE.
I did receive a number of huzzahs for the column, but I also did receive two comments disparaging what I wrote. Surprisingly they both focused on my comments approving AUMA’s lifting of any cultivation size limits and made no mention of any of the other reasons I provided for why AUMA is a pretty good deal. I would like to share one of them with you as I believe it gets to the core of the differences in outlook of pro-64 and anti-64 people.
All these assumptions are being presented as facts. That sounds like propaganda. We have no idea what the cost will be if 64 passes. If the price falls as much as Lanny claims what will that do to the small growers who have risked their lives for decades to provide us some of the finest herb in the world. I believe in fair trade and think a grower’s hard work should provide a livable wage. It sounds like AUMA will be a death kneel for these family farms. If all you care about is cheap weed you can buy Mexican for a few hundred dollars a pound. I think there is more at stake here than just cheap buds. Sounds like a government/corporate takeover, industrial pot, heartless capitalism. AUMA is the death of cannabis culture, of caring, fairness, peace, love and music. Replaced by government controls and the heartless concern of money. And we are being asked to do this to ourselves. AUMA is 62 very hard to understand pages for a reason. They don't want yo u to read it. Please take the time to read and understand what this really is. We can do much better. - Lonnie Painter, Director Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis Collective and President Village Cannabis Club.
“AUMA is the death of cannabis culture, of caring, fairness, peace, love and music?” Really? I will ascribe that kind of “statement-of-fact” to enthusiastic-for-the-anti-64-cause PT Barnum hyperbole. If you believe it’s true, nothing I write here will make any sense to you and you might as well stop reading now.
That being said Lonnie is absolutely right that Prop. 64 will be the “death kneel for these family farms,” most of which are illegal as well as “the small growers who have risked their lives for decades to provide us some of the finest herb in the world” which was, until recently if I remember correctly, being sold by them for $2,000 to $3,000 a pound.
When I got involved in the marijuana movement over thirty years ago, there were two goals that I wanted to help achieve. One was to stop the arrests of people for using and cultivating marijuana and two was to make marijuana as affordable as alcohol and tobacco. I feel closer to both goals then I have ever felt before.
After almost 80 years of reefer madness we are coming out of the age of marijuana prohibition, but sadly there are some folks who, along with cops and drug warriors, don’t want to see that happen.
Supporting keeping a marijuana production system in place that for the last 20 years has kept marijuana at $200/ounce or more is beyond all rational belief as it continues to make it impossible for many to afford all the marijuana they need for medicine or recreation. This is not only crazy, it is inhumane, callous and hurts people in the lower economic brackets the most.
AUMA will substantially reduce the price for marijuana as it provides for large-scale agriculture which is the basis for our California agricultural system that provides food for the nation and the world.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture reports that the state produces almost half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the country. Along with the lion’s share of livestock and dairy products, there are 66 food crops in which California leads the nation, growing virtually ALL of the nation’s almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, raisins, kiwifruit, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, prunes, pomegranates, sweet rice and walnuts.
California is a major food producer for our country and can produce food at such low prices because of the economies of scale obtained on the state’s 25.4 million acres of farmland with an average farm size of 312 acres. And California’s farmers do this with farm workers comprising less than 2% of the state’s total work force.
Brokering the idea that California agriculture could produce so prodigiously and economically on farms restricted in size to one acre has got to be near the top of the list of irrational statements and makes one wonder what people who support restricting cultivation size have been drinking,
Does any rational person believe that carrots would be 49¢/lb. if farmers were forced to grow carrots like growers are forced to cultivate marijuana? Carrots would be $149/lb.
Marijuana consumers deserve the benefits of California’s amazing large-scale agricultural system which will provide them with quality marijuana at prices that are truly affordable. To deny them these benefits on the altar of marijuana cultural Kumbaya and a Robin Hood mythology of outlaw growers is absurd beyond belief.
Fear that a few large companies will produce a sizeable portion of marijuana production is to live in a Pollyanna world divorced from reality. From toothpaste to laundry detergent, just about every product that is used by tens of millions of Americans is produced and distributed by a handful of large companies. There may be other competitors but the bulk of sales are made by a few large companies. Some people might not like this capitalist system, but it works fairly well in getting the most product to the most people at the most affordable price.
What could pass as a legitimate fear is the fear that one company can take control of the entire cultivation and production process. If that is a fear, then AUMA with its no state imposed limit on licenses including a “microbusiness” license, is just what the doctor ordered.
The microbusiness license is the guarantee in AUMA that the small independent grower will always be there. If allowed under local ordinance, the “microbusiness” license allows small producers to cultivate up to 10,000 sq. ft. (about ¼ acre) and to process, distribute, transport and sell marijuana as well as have on-site consumption with just that one license.
AUMA’s microbusiness license is a kissing cousin to the wine industry where there are three major players - Gallo, The Wine Group and Constellation. Then there are about a dozen large vintners and most significantly over 4,000 small independent wineries. Low prices to high prices, mediocre to fit for a king – wine enthusiasts have it all.
With the microbusiness license available, the same will be true for marijuana - low prices to high prices, mediocre to fit for a king – marijuana enthusiasts will have it all. The number of small family owned marijuana cultivators will rapidly dwarf the independent wineries in both terms of numbers and dollars taken in.
AUMA will bring to an end the production system that came of age with the advent of marijuana prohibition in 1937. It is as transformative for those seeking safe, reliable, local and affordable marijuana as was the move from horses to automobiles.
Remember there were laws designed to make horseless carriage operation difficult - having some one walk in front waving a red flag, not exceeding 4 miles an hour, and stopping if anyone with a horse coming the other way held up a hand. As more people used cars, those laws faded and more reasonable ones took their place. AUMA is the beginning of those more reasonable laws but it is only a beginning.
AUMA promise of affordability has to be carefully guarded and nurtured as AUMA’s provisions allowing large-scale cultivation do not kick in until 2023. In deference to the growers who “risked their lives for decades” to provide $2,500/ lb. marijuana to the masses, AUMA prohibits the issuance of large-scale licenses for 5 years.
If we waited 80 years for marijuana to be sold for the same price it was sold in neighborhood drugstores before 1937, then I guess we can wait another five years.
Consumers of marijuana must be alert and oganized at the end of AUMA’s 5 year cultivation size restriction. The legislature will come under enormous pressure from the small growers who accumulated sizeable profits from the anti-competitive protection they received by not allowing large scale cultivation and allowing the marijuana prohibition model of cultivation to continue. I am sure the cops will be there too doing their best to undermine marijuana affordability by claiming that large farms will attract kids and cause drivers to drive erratically as they pass fields of thousands of acres of cannabis.
The legislature may also be under pressure from government agencies to not allow large scale cultivation. Since most of the tax revenue raised by the sale of marijuana, both on the state and local level, is based on price, a significant drop in prices that comes with large scale farming will cause a significant drop in tax revenues.
Legislators could raise the excise tax but that would take a 2/3 majority vote. Allowing the marijuana prohibition production method to continue would only require a simple majority guaranteeing an uninterrupted flow of lots and lots of marijuana tax dollars.
Without large scale cultivation, big business will be much more hesitant to move-in so the question is who will be at the state legislature lobbying for large scale farming to kick-in?
Although some big businesses with their sights on California marijuana industry might step-in, it would make more sense that if AUMA passes we should start an immediate dialog with California farmers. With a value significantly higher than many other crops, farmers will understand the potential for this new crop and lobby for large-scale marijuana cultivation. We need to work with them so that we can all enjoy the real-world benefits of a very large environmentally sound crop that is ideally suited for California’s Central and Imperial Valleys.
Prop. 64 is not the end of marijuana prohibition, but it is a humane, workable and viable pathway out of it. It is a pathway that we should look forward to taking.
Empowering Women and
Leveraging MJ into
on Internet Radio Show
The newest episode of Marijuana Compassion & Common Sense at blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews dives into the world of marijuana commerce and marijuana women featuring an interview with Washington entrepreneur Aimee Warner. As the organizer of Women of Weed, a Washington based private social club, Aimee helps to empower women to get involved in the cannabis industry and to be open and proud of their cannabis use.
Recently featured in an article by John Schroyer in the Marijuana Business Daily, she is the founder of Cannabis Basics, a company manufacturing body care products infused with hemp seed oil that may be the first marijuana company to get a THC cannabis-based health and beauty product line on the shelves of mainline retail stores. To read the Marijuana Business Daily article CLICK HERE.
Initiative 502, the voter approved law that legalized the use of marijuana for anyone over 21, didn’t fit her business model, so she lobbied Washington state lawmakers for an exception and succeeded in getting an amendment to House Bill 2136 through the legislature last year that would allow her products to be sold in stores not licensed to sell marijuana.
Aimee also works with cannabisnursesmagazine.com and the American Cannabis Nurses Association.
Hosting and interviewing is Lanny Swerdlow, RN with each episode presenting commentary on current marijuana issues as well as the featured interview. To hear the latest episode featuring the interview with Aimee Warner CLICK HERE or go to: www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews.