The Importance of Permitting Consumers the Right to Cultivate Marijuana for Personal Use

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 1, 2009

    For nearly 40 years, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for the tens of millions of Americans who enjoy cannabis responsibly. NORML is and has always been the ‘marijuana’ consumers’ lobby.


    In the short run, NORML favors the elimination of all criminal and/or civil penalties prohibiting the possession of cannabis for personal use, regardless of whether one is using it for medical purposes or for personal pleasure. Further, NORML opposes sanctions that presently prohibit the not-for-profit transfer of small amounts of cannabis between adults. This policy, called “decriminalization”, was the recommendation of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse in their groundbreaking 1972 report, Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding. Versions of cannabis decriminalization have now been adopted in 13 states.

    Cannabis consumers are ordinary Americans who work hard, raise families, pay taxes and contribute in a positive way to their communities. We are not criminals. Just as millions of Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day, we enjoy sharing a joint (or, for that matter, a vapor bag) when we relax in the evening. Of the nearly 900,000 marijuana arrests in America each year, about 90% are for possession of small amounts for personal use. Continuing with this Draconian policy makes no sense. That is why three out of four Americans now support decriminalizing the personal possession and use of cannabis.

    NORML’s ultimate political goal is the establishment of a legally regulated market where consumers can obtain their cannabis in a safe and secure environment. This policy is generally called “legalization”. As our country discovered when we experimented with alcohol prohibition, it is only by providing a legally regulated market that we can significantly reduce the crime, corruption and violence associated with a criminal black market.

    NORML supports the imposition of state and/or federal age and quality controls governing the commercial production, sale, and use of cannabis to assure public safety and to advise the consumer of the strength of the variety of cannabis being purchased.

    And, importantly, we support the imposition of a reasonable tax on commercial cannabis sales that could raise substantial revenue for the various states, to be used for drug education and other programs to encourage responsible use and to discourage abuse. But as we work toward these goals, it is crucial that we underscore the importance of permitting consumers the option to grow their own cannabis.

    Alcohol consumers possess the legal right to create their own home brew, free from government interference. Although the vast majority of alcohol drinkers never utilizes this freedom, and prefers the convenience of purchasing alcohol at a retail outlet, that option remains available to those who wish to use it. We believe that similar regulations should govern the non-retail production of cannabis.

    The cultivation of cannabis for personal use is the single most important element of the NORML legalization proposal. Allowing for the legal, personal cultivation of cannabis provides consumers with the option to grow their own product should commercially available sources offer cannabis that fails to meet the consumers’ needs because it is excessively expensive, too heavily taxed, or of inferior quality. The mere threat of consumers exercising this option should be sufficient to assure that the legal market for cannabis will be responsive to the needs of consumers, and will not be exploitive.

    So when any organization or any state or federal legislator proposes legalizing cannabis, either for medical use or for personal pleasure, but forbids the consumer from growing their own cannabis, those of us who lobby on this issue must insist on amendments to permit personal cultivation.

    Otherwise we, cannabis law reformers, trade away our only leverage to keep the big corporations and the government honest and responsive to cannabis consumers.

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    143 responses to “The Importance of Permitting Consumers the Right to Cultivate Marijuana for Personal Use”

    1. CKDK29 says:

      Awsome story i think that should be allowed to cultivate yourown for personal use.I got seeds n waiting for that day to come.Sorry Normal for no donations yet this broke down economy isnt helping none of us

    2. Karyn says:

      funny how so many politicians are raging alcoholics and chain smokers yet they don’t feel the need to change this. well we are not going away…so game on!

    3. NativeSonKY says:

      This is a well-thought-out plan in my opinion. I never considered the need to include a “personal cultivation” clause before, and am glad to have had my eyes opened. As with others, being unemployed, I haven’t been able to make any donations either, but will do so once I am enrolled in school again and get some money coming in. Thanks for carrying the torch for all of us “little guys” for all these years. I just turned 50 years old and actually thought this would have been done by now. Well, no time like the present!

      John in Kentucky

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    5. 40 years seriously. Wow. As i said before ive been both supportive and critical of NORML. But you guys have done more for law reform then ill have done in my whole measly life. When i have nay-sayed before it wasnt you guys it was my own lack of patience. I know with all my heart that pot is not just not bad its beautiful. I just get so freakin angry about how politicians and prohibition is in general. How slow things move in the real world. But ill have more faith from now on. We are NOT criminals. Im a father and husband. Seriously though thanks you guys alot.

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    7. CKDK29 says:

      P.S When i do get some money i want one of those hoodies that Say Its Normal To Smoke Pot n i’ll wear it proud N E where

    8. The Skeptical FLoridian says:

      I am a proud cannabis user, and the day anyone tries to come and take me from my house I’ll be waiting with my SKS and 200+ rounds. I feel like marching to the white house with hundreds of thousands of people and having a synchronized “light up” to make a stand. Why should we let other human beings tell us what we can and cannot do in the privacy of our own homes and the discretion we take into the public sphere? I should be able to walk down any public street and smoke a bowl or light a joint as long as I mind my own business and do not offer it to anyone, besides, beer and cigs already cost a fortune, like I’m going to just throw buds at total strangers…..

      The president and the government say they’re for the people and by the people but it is false. They do not listen to us, and force their OPINIONS upon our own private lives….Do you think Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, or Lincoln would allow them to be subjected like we are in the modern day? But what can you really do against a force that can wipe you, your family, and your property from the face of this earth? The government does what it wants, it only places a facade in front of it’s ulterior motives to distract us and keep us deaf, dumb, and blind.

      Look at all the death going, look at all the pain and suffering which is a daily aspect of life on this planet. Disease, rape, murder, theft, war…and the government is going to make it a personal vendetta to stomp out marijuana users. “To the United States government, where are your fucking priorities?”

      Everyday a child is kidnapped here, everyday an innocent life is taking by a demon. And what is the so called “protector” of our free society doing? Spending all of our money to arrest and prosecute marijuana defenders rather than going after the horrible demons which infest our world. What kind of government is that?

      I always hear the old adage, well “what about the children”? Well….what about them? Why should I worry about your kids? What right do you have to make me worry about your fucking children? Do your children worry about me? “They’re the future” No, they’re not, the future is here, this day, this moment, not 30 years down the road which we cannot see. The future is here and now. And for God’s sake….get over your children, they don’t run the world. Stop being a doormat for them…..

      A lot of people won’t agree with me, but then again what kind of world are we living in when everyone is always agreeing with everyone else. What I do think we can all agree on, is that legalization is the only way to save our country, our planet, and our lives. Obama is spending too much money without a plan to get it back. We’ve heard the statistic and the rhetoric, now is the time to make a smart decision. Legalize marijuana to end the suffering and spread peace. Stop being douche bags and start acting already….

      (>^_^)><//////W~~~~~~~ Excuse me while I lift my spliff!

    9. Jason the Cheese Man says:

      I saw an interview with a man who is proposing decriminalization legislation in Canada, although his name escapes me, and I was remarking to friends about his inclusion of a clause that would allow people to grow up to two plants for personal use. He said it is smart for politicians to want to allow people to grow for personal use because then it cuts the ties between those that are in it for personal or medical use, and those who are only there to reap criminal benefits. Of course, NORML follows up the next day with this well written article that goes right along with my thoughts. I concur.

    10. R.O.E. says:

      This is a great articles,but I have one question. As stated in the article” 3 out of 4 americans now support decrim”. If true why is it still illegal? Isnt 3 out of 4 the majority? Are we just being ingnored as they ignore us on other bills we dont want? Have WE the government been hyjacked? This doesnt make sense.