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Legalizing Marijuana Will Help Disenfranchised Families

Legalizing Marijuana Will Help Disenfranchised Families

NOVEMBER 07 2016

When I started in the cannabis business more than a decade ago, my sole purpose was to create a safe space for women to access clean, quality cannabis. For 10 years, I’ve been drawn into a legalization war that rages on with aggressive conflict between our state and federal governments, between cultivators and law enforcement. But with successive legalization in states across the country, it’s clear that legalization in California is no longer an issue of “if” but “when.” The LGBTQ community has tremendous power when we work and vote together. Proposition 64 — which would legalize recreational marijuana — is our chance to make positive changes that could reverberate nationally.

The 2016 presidential election ensures a high voter turnout, and it’s our opportunity as a state, as counties, as compassionate communities, to send a clear message at the ballot box. We want cannabis legalized. Period. Prop. 64 is imperfect; that too is something most people agree on. But do we stand still and create the “perfect” proposition? How much longer do we wait? Or do we move forward and correct course as we go like the pioneers we once were? California once led the charge in progressive lawmaking, especially regarding cannabis. Now we lag behind states like Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.

At the crux of Prop. 64 is access. It removes the barrier that says, “Cannabis is OK for me but not for you.” Under Proposition 215, marijuana isn’t legal; it allows medicinal use and provides immunity to prosecution. Big difference. Prop. 64 makes marijuana legal. That automatically eliminates the gross waste of resources being poured into combating cannabis use, and not just the ticketing and arrests, but all the way down the chain — prosecution, detainment, housing, appeals. The agencies dealing with this suffer from a lack of proper equipment and training. Wouldn’t those resources be better spent combating real social problems or providing better services? I refer you to the massive police raids on dispensaries and cultivators only this past summer right here in California.

One concern people have expressed is that Prop. 64 kills small business, but has this been true in the wine industry? Craft beer? Micro-distilleries? The coffee industry? There will always be a place for artisanal, small-batch, premium-quality products. At Natural Cannabis Co., we do very little vertical integration and instead work exclusively with small farms and cultivators. That’s what our clients want. It varies by community, but speaking for Sonoma County, we have a loyalty and passion for supporting independents and small businesses. Prop. 64 adds a residency requirement through 2019 and has antimonopoly and price-fixing language. Is it perfect? No. But it allows people with prior cannabis convictions to get licenses to operate a legal business, something Prop. 215 lacks. It eliminates the irony of refusing cannabis cultivation licenses to people who have been convicted of cultivating cannabis — imagine that!……

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