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California will get its third chance to legalize recreational, er, adult use of cannabis in November. And while two Prop 19 initiatives, in 1972 and 2010, both failed, this year’s Prop 64 has a good chance of succeeding. Polls show 60% of voters support the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). The initiative is well funded and backed not just by activists, but by groups like the NAACP and politicians like California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom.

Of course, AUMA has its naysayers. Most of the complaints are about how restrictive the new rules will be, or about how Big Agriculture, Monsanto and Big Pharma are going to take over the weed trade. This is hogwash: While the legalization of marijuana will present a set of challenges for those not inclined to follow any set of rules, the truth is that the black market isn’t going away, especially for those that specialize in interstate trade. Until Georgia, New York and Texas legalize weed, California’s pot outlaws will always have a place to send their harvest.

As for big corporations taking over the cannabis industry, Prop 64 ensures that small-scale “boutique” grows have a spot in the marketplace. It may help to think of the new connoisseur paradigm the same way we think about beer. Sure, mass-market brands like Budweiser and Coors have a big share of the market, but where I live, we all drink local micro-brews. Craft cannabis is an emerging market niche, and growers with skill (and a good marketing plan) should have no trouble finding buyers, especially with the explosion in demand that legalization may bring.

Prop 64 is just a step. If it passes, it doesn’t mean that pot activism is over. There’s plenty more to do. We still need to get people out of jail, and there are folks awaiting trial on marijuana charges right now that could probably get them dropped if AUMA passes, such as long-time canna-activist Todd McCormick, who in August had his cultivation case delayed until after the election because prosecutors didn’t want to spend time and money prosecuting him if weed is going to be legal anyway. Freeing cannabis captives should be reason enough to vote for Prop 64.

With the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in San Francisco on Aug. 16 reaffirming the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment (that keeps the DOJ and the DEA from spending federal money to go after state-legal medical cannabis businesses), it’s more important than ever for California to have a comprehensive set of regulations. Prop 64 is a good start.

 


 

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About Ngaio Bealum

The former editor of West Coast Cannabis currently writes for the Sacramento News and Review and Freedom Leaf. He also performs standup comedy at clubs and MCs the International Cannabis Business Conference events.

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