What happens if California voters “legalize” recreational marijuana via ballot initiative in 2016?
Read our previous article detailing the California government’s planned approach to recreational marijuana legalization. You’ll see it sure as hell won’t be the kind of “legalization” most marijuana growers, processors, sellers, and users want!
All you have to do is look at California medical marijuana legislative actions in 2015 (Assembly Bills 243 and 266 and Senate Bill 643). You see that “legalization” really means very very very over-regulated.
Those new California medical marijuana laws (known together as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act or MMRSA) basically destroy the easy to understand medical marijuana law (Prop. 215) passed by voters in 1996.
The MMRSA creates an extensive, expensive, complicated, draconian, radical scheme to impose the state government’s tight control on medical cannabis growers and providers.
Recreational Marijuana Faux Legalization Madness
There are several California recreational marijuana measures competing to get on the 2016 ballot… but none of them are satisfactory to marijuana growers.
Some of them would create marijuana growing and selling monopolies, similar to what the Canadian federal government’s marijuana regulations have created.
A few government-approved legalized marijuana producers would cash in.
The rest of us who grow marijuana would be worse off, maybe even under greater threat of getting busted!
Other proposals are poorly-written and poorly-funded, with no chance of gaining voter approval.
People who aren’t marijuana growers have been shilling for a NORML-backed proposal fronted by a group called ReformCA, or another one backed by rich people (including the head of WeedMaps), called the California Control, Tax, and Regulate Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).
These so-called California marijuana legalization proposals, buys into drug war myths and the “Colorado model,” which treats marijuana plants like they’re more dangerous than guns.
They put ridiculous restrictions on how much marijuana you can purchase and grow.
Harsh restrictions found in the recent package of laws that gutted Prop. 215, many of those would also be in effect for recreational marijuana.
The ReformCa California marijuana legalization proposal creates two new and unnecessary government bureaucracies: the California Cannabis Commission and Office of Cannabis Regulatory Affairs.
These agencies will create draconian rules and regs that harm cultivators, sellers, marijuana laboratories, and others in the marijuana supply chain.
It purports to “regulate marijuana like alcohol.”
Well guess what, marijuana isn’t alcohol, and doesn’t need to be regulated like alcohol. Marijuana doesn’t kill people. It doesn’t cause people to become violent.
It’s a medicinal plant, and the world’s safest intoxicant.
If you want to really legalize marijuana, have its legal status be the same as tomatoes.
Don’t treat it like some scary plant that kids and society have to be protected from!
California Marijuana Legalization Not Gonna Happen in 2016
ReformCA is definitely not real California marijuana legalization, and neither is AUMA.
AUMA doesn’t allow us to grow more than six marijuana plants, no matter how many people live together. It even allows your landlord to ban growing or possessing marijuana.
Counties still have massively prohibitionist control over you.
They can make it virtually impossible for you to grow your own weed.
They get to add taxes onto any legal marijuana growing, processing, or sales that are allowed if you manage to qualify for the ridiculous licensing regulations that allow you to operate a marijuana business.
This is on top of the very high state taxes added to marijuana transactions.
You can’t have more than an ounce of weed or eight grams of butane honey oil, bubblehash, kief, live resins, and other types of concentrates.
And there are still plenty of criminal penalties if you have more plants or more weed than allowed, or if you sell weed or concentrates without being licensed by the government.
Most California marijuana growers fear law changes, even though the state’s current cannabis growing regulations are far from perfect.
Right now, with growers operating under Proposition 215 (the landmark medical marijuana law passed in 1996 which was recently gutted by state government), California’s marijuana industry is worth at least $2.7 billion annually.
Unless a California marijuana grower gets greedy and is growing way too many plants, or is narked out or otherwise unlucky, the chances of getting arrested and going to prison are less than they were before voters passed Prop. 215 in 1996.
Ironically, many California cannabis growers opposed Prop. 215, and marijuana growers aren’t too thrilled about so-called California recreational marijuana legalization as seen in the current 2016 proposals.
Their reasons for opposition are easy to understand:
Marijuana legalization tends to increase supply and drive prices down.
Wholesale prices for premium California marijuana have dropped from a high of $4000-5500 per pound before Prop. 215 to around $2000 per pound now.
Marijuana “legalization” isn’t total legalization in any state where it’s been enacted so far.
There are still plenty of ways to get busted growing marijuana even in marijuana legalization states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
Even in “legalized” Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, marijuana growers are still limited in how many plants they can grow, where they can grow them, how or if they can retail their marijuana, and other activities.
In some cases, so-called marijuana legalization creates government-licensed monopoly growers with unfair market advantages that crowd out or eliminate home growers.
The two California marijuana legalization ballot measures that have the most likelihood of passing both discriminate against home marijuana growers.
Most marijuana legalization laws include high taxes and fees that raise the price of retail cannabis and create financial burdens, bookkeeping problems, and other hassles for marijuana growers and providers.
California Marijuana Legalization: Follow the Money
Based on a report from the California government’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO), marijuana legalization would save California taxpayers an estimated $100 million per year by reducing the amount of money and time used to arrest, process, adjudicate, jail, supervise and otherwise handle marijuana offenders.
And if voters pass a California marijuana legalization ballot measure in 2016, tax and fee revenues paid by marijuana growers and providers would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year for governmental and other services.
The State of Washington and local Washington government entities took in $71 million in marijuana-related taxes and fees during its first year of legal, regulated marijuana sales.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board oversees the marijuana industry and reports that marijuana stores sold $257 million worth of marijuana in the state’s first year of legalization.
Pollsters say 55% or more of likely California voters would vote for marijuana legalization in 2016.
Marijuana growers are worried that no matter what marijuana legalization proposal gets passed, it won’t benefit them.
Most marijuana growers prefer an unregulated black market. They don’t want to be forced to buy government permission to grow marijuana.
Nor do they want the government to put restrictions on how many plants they can grow, or on the size and scope of grow facilities.
Politicians and government officials aren’t welcoming recreational marijuana legalization either.
San Francisco officials have already publicly worried about regulating “bud and breakfast” lodging, marijuana night clubs and bars, marijuana medibles, and public marijuana events.
Hydroponics nutrients pioneer Michael Straumietis, founder of hydroponics manufacturer Advanced Nutrients, says marijuana growers want marijuana legalization laws and regulations that guarantee a fair price for homegrown, boutique, and commercially-produced marijuana.
He says home-based marijuana growers operating with one to ten 1000-watt lights have been the main producers of quality marijuana for decades.
“They’re the people who risked it all to produce cannabis,” he said. “Without them, there wouldn’t have been so much political support for legalizing marijuana. Yet, these California marijuana legalization ballot measures limiting home growers to only a few plants, and placing other restrictions such as allowing their landlords to prohibit them from cultivating, or giving counties too much power.”
Straumietis calls AUMA a “Silicon Valley” approach to California marijuana legalization because it has a few “sophisticated features” that reflect its Bay Area sponsors and creators.
“I’ve been a grower myself, and I know what marijuana growers want,” he says. “California marijuana legalization, if it ever happens, must include guarantees that any new laws and regulations will make life easier, rather than harder, for home marijuana growers.”