Demanding “Perfect Legalization” is a Formula for Defeat

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel January 26, 2015

    marijuana legalizationYou don’t have to look too hard to see marijuana legalization efforts in several states that have a good chance of being approved by the voters in 2016. But many of those efforts are mired-down with competing proposals and competing proponents that could easily undermine the ability of supporters in those states to actually change public policy and end prohibition.

    The inability to accept compromise in the interest of building a winning coalition threatens to turn some of these political opportunities into losing efforts. And that would be a disaster.

    Specifically, different factions with different political demands are competing for control of the issue in Massachusetts, Ohio and California, three large and important states that would add enormous legitimacy and political credibility to the legalization movement, were they to approve legalization in 2016.

    Click here to read the balance of this column.

    59 responses to “Demanding “Perfect Legalization” is a Formula for Defeat”

    1. First! says:

      Yeah, this is always an argument in the cannabis forums. Everybody has an opinion on the issue. It;s usually the Ron Paul libertarian types going all or nothing on tax free, grow your own, no government regulated weed. I’m all for that, but good luck in trying to get it passed. We have to compromise.

    2. Chadwick says:

      What happens when a constitutional amendment proposal goes above and beyond to protect a monopoly (i.e. the ResponsibleOhio proposal)?

      At what point will NORML step up to protect the rights of the consumer?

      [Editor’s note: Hobson’s Choices are usually difficult. However, if the only choice is between continuing prohibition vs ending prohibition (with monopolies), NORML favors ending prohibition. In a post-prohibition environment, consumers sufficiently agitated to get politically active can seek to amend the initial legislation or initiative outcome of cannabis prohibition ending with more cannabis consumer-friendly laws.

      Such is not too different than the end of alcohol prohibition, when monopolies in the form of regional distributors were established by ‘wet’ elites, and today, all these years later, there are still dozens of modifications to local and state alcohol policies and rules, with these changes usually brought on by consumers complaining to their elected policy makers/going to court to create more consumer friendly policies.

      Cannabis will not likely be much different than alcohol reform’s trajectory.

      But, firstly, the immorality of cannabis prohibition has to first be confronted before the inefficiencies of monopolies are rightly addressed by consumer-oriented organizations.

      Lastly, if civic-minded citizens were ever to be motivated to raise the necessary funds and build up sufficient political organizing, now would be a good time. Otherwise, in OH specifically, some elites in the state are already out ahead of the activists and stakeholders.

      In the free market place of competing ideas, local stakeholders certainly don’t have to cave to elite/corporate interests, but they have to vigorously organize and fundraise to put out competing ideas/visions about a functional cannabis policy in the state.

      If past is prologue, that support is not going to come from out-of-state non-profit organizations–organize and legalize locally, otherwise, like all of the previous legalization efforts sans the 2010 CA initiative, cannabis law reform initiatives have been organized and funded by out-of-state billionaires.]

    3. TheOracle says:

      Hear! Hear!

      As I recall competing interests in California came into play.

      The shit just hit the fan as I was reading this article in 420times that the IRS just issued new guidelines yet cannabis business are still getting a fucking.

      WTF! You might as well just rewrite their memo and sell it the hell right back to them exactly the way the cannabis community wants it to read. The IRS obviously is incapable of writing the guidelines the way we legalizers want to see the policy. I’m serious. Get together and rewrite these guidelines and send them back to the IRS, and apply whatever pressure you can to get them to go along with them, accept them.

      The IRS must come to realize that 50% tax, as mentioned in Forbes, is only fair if non-cannabis businesses are paying that much BECAUSE they are going to be raking in much more in federal taxes at lower and fair rates even at lower and fair rates with more states opening up adult retail. If they, the IRS, would just get the hell out of the way, more states will legalize all the faster, seeing that the early adopter states with adult retail have cleared the way.

      The article states:
      “The IRS just addressed the issue, apparently allowing dispensaries to take certain deductions and to file their taxes. Unfortunately, according to a couple Forbes magazine analysis of the new guidelines, the rules are not favorable for marijuana businesses.”

      The article, dated January 26, 2015, has the links to two Forbes articles, both dated 1/24/15

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/01/24/irs-advice-to-marijuana-dealers-dude-deduct-it-but-prepare-for-50-tax/ and the other




      Here is the link directly to the PDF on the IRS site:


    4. Randy Heacox says:

      In ohio they want restrict growing to ten spots in the state… thats unacceptable. maybe i’m splitting hairs but smoking isnt all i care about… i want to grow it.

      [Editor’s note: The final language to be submitted in OH isn’t until Friday. What you will likely find is that what you think is in the proposal is not there (i.e., home grown cannabis will not be constitutionally prohibited). Other states (like CT, MA, NJ, MD, IL and MN) currently have strict limitations on the number of cultivation centers allowed (for medical purposes) and don’t allow home cultivation…and the sky has not fallen, patients and consumers can still readily access taxed and untaxed cannabis.

      Law reform organizations, joined by self-intertested business entities, are not going to be satisfied with limited cultivation or retail outlets, and will continue to litigate and lobby for greater consumer access.]

    5. Chadwick says:

      @Editor: I thought that in this era of competing corporate interests, NORML would set the standard for consumer-friendly marijuana policy by advocating for fair employment practices, rational DUI laws, home-grow rights, tax-free cannabis for MMJ patients, etc.

      Ohioans recognized the failure of punishing cannabis users harshly in the 1970s and thus decriminalized personal use… so now Ohio needs to take a rational next step. Why won’t NORML use its vast consumer advocacy experience to help guide the country into a new era of legalized marijuana?

      [Editor’s note: NORML, and its 160 chapters, have since 1970 and will always be at the vanguard of cannabis consumer concerns. But this does not mean that the organization is going to oppose organized efforts to end cannabis prohibition that don’t meet the ideals of every activist, notably when in-state activists themselves fail to champion their own freedom.

      The authors of the OH initiative have invited dozens of local activists to meet with them–only two to date have taken the opportunity to express their concerns (and those concerns were heard and language was favorably amended).

      NORML has never taken a position on whether or not medical cannabis should be tax free.]

    6. Chadwick says:

      @Editor Great points; local (Ohio) activists have been struggling with funding for years. It’s comforting to hear that ResponsibleOhio reached out to the locals too… sad to hear that only two actually answered those calls.

      Ohioans will need to convince the Marijuana Control Commission to de-regulate limited home growing and study new licensing regs for commercial grows to appeal to the mom-and-pop farmer… or the black market will ultimately prevail on pricepoint and supply.

    7. Somedood says:

      Just reading thru comments… Monopolies are ridiculously strong in this age. They have so much money that they pretty much control the laws and shape them to their own will. I want legalization at pretty much any cost but surrendering to monopolies that will no doubt reap more ridiculous money than we have seen yet will definitely be dangerous to human decency and more importantly our wallets.

    8. Ohio we are says:

      This thing here in Ohio could be up for voters
      this November, lets see if the lawmakers in Columbus
      get jealous and pass legislation that they want out ahead
      of the voters,could be the game.
      Either way I’m glad to see my Ohio getting in done.

    9. GrowingMary says:

      I don’t mind paying taxes on what I buy, but I don’t think you should have to pay taxes on anything you produce yourself. It really will have to be a compromise.

    10. steven says:

      Editor what do you think of the new mmj amendment florida will be trying to pass? Im up in the air about it. Im not liking how strict it is and that its only for debilitating illnesses cause only a small percent will be able to use. I would hate to see the people with cancer and other serious conditions not be able to use but when i saw the language of the new amdenment i was bummed and said i wont sign the petition nor vote for it when the time comes but i know that is selfish of me so i will be signing the petition and will vote yes. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and is there anyway to get it so it will cover a larger group of people thanks.

      [Paul Armentano responds: At present, there is pending legislation in Florida SB 528 — “The Florida Medical Marijuana Act”, to allow qualified patients to engage in cannabis therapy. Under this proposal, patients diagnosed with cancer, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and persistent pain, severe and persistent nausea, persistent seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms will be able to obtain up to a 30-day supply of medical cannabis from a state-licensed retail facility. You can read the full text here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=53511.%5D