Cannabis Law - The Way It Should Be
Harder then it has to be....
Over the past four years, cannabis has come a long way in the fight against prohibition. It's gone from something that the majority was told was an ultimate evil, into a plant that can help many people in many ways, and that definitely isn't evil. Yet and still, with all the great strides in cannabis education, protesting and anti-propaganda, it still seems like our legislators just don't get it.
People have spoken out all over the countryside about what they want, both for medicinal patients and recreational users. Yet the politics of it all still seems to guide those with the magic law writing pens. It's just sad to see an issue that is really uncomplicated, become such a complicated issue.
So in this hub, I would like to take a shot at writing out the cannabis law the way it should be. The way the people want it. Which is both the simplest method of getting the job done, and the correct method.
"Keep It Simple Stupid...."
Taxation seems to be problem that most of the beaurocrats focus on, and sadly, it's not focused on enough by those that want or need cannabis to be legalized. The way I see it, when it comes to taxation, both sides need to find benefit, but taxation should not be the end goal nor should it interfer with the task at hand.
There are some major issues we need to keep in mind in order to create a proper method of taxation:
1) There needs to be limits set on how much cannabis can be taxed, and how often the taxes could potentially be raised
2) There needs to be a specific set of rules for when cannabis can be taxed
3) There needs to be a specific goal for the revenue earned by cannabis taxation
Now let me explain these issues a bit, so that everyone is clear. So far, just about any state that has considered or is going towards cannabis legalization, has made it clear that it will be taxed. And most people are more than okay with that. The major reason they are okay with that, is because it's a bride to the bureaucrats to get things done. We probably wouldn't be this far without that bride. The next big reason, is because so much revenue could be earned that it could really benefit our economy. The problem with this though, is that not a single group or political body has sat down and said how much cannabis will be taxed. That leaves a wide bottomless pit open in the process of taxation. They could over tax people from the beginning, or they could start out with a small tax to win favor and then jump the rate of taxation up to an incredible amount - bringing cannabis back to the black market because it's to expensive to buy an over taxed product. Because of this, we need a clear percentage of tax for cannabis, and we need to set limits on how often that tax can be raised.
For an example: Say the tax was 10 cents on the dollar for any cannabis sale. That's reasonable and affordable. Then we could say that the legislators or regulators are not allowed to raise the tax of 10 cents on the dollar more than 1 cent every year after. Though they will probably do such a thing, at very least it would be modest increases and would go along with inflation and not just the whims of the taxers. The most important part is that there would be clear controls set in place ahead of time. When we leave that issue open during the creation of legislation, we leave ourselves open to all sorts of political loop holes that could leave us in essentially the same situation we're already in now. It won't do any good to legalize if people can't afford to go through the proper channels.
The second most important issue is setting specific rules for when cannabis can or cannot be taxed. As a medicine, cannabis should not be taxed. Pharmaceuticals are not taxed, so there is no reason to tax cannabis that is going to a medicinal patient with a clear prescription or recommendation from their doctor. In any other situation, I feel that cannabis should only be taxed under a Confectionery tax, which basically means that when cannabis is processed and taken from it's original form, then it can be taxed. This means that if it is baked, cooked, made into tinctures, salves, oils or beverages - it can be taxed. Any time it is taken from it's original form, it can be taxed. The rest will be covered in B&O taxes, and there will be more than enough businesses cropping up with legalized cannabis.
The importance of having taxation be stuck on a confectionery type tax system, is because otherwise, you could be taxed for simply sharing a batch of your sweetest buds with your cousins or grandparents and you could be taxed for growing. They don't tax you to grow tomatoes at home and there is no tax to buy tomatoes from the grocery store, but they do tax you for salsa, ketchup and pasta sauce. Cannabis should be treated the same way. It is a fruit/vegetable producing plant that can be easily grown in any home, so there is no reason to treat is separately from other produce. In it's natural state, no tax - once it's processed or turned into something else, it gets taxed. Simple as that.
The last major issue, is to consider what the goal will be for the revenue earned by cannabis taxes. I personally feel it's rather redundant to just say that cannabis tax revenues should go back into the propaganda system in schools or into rehab systems for cannabis users. I feel this way because for one, there are not going to be that many people who need cannabis rehab, so there would still be a large surplus of funds that would either not go to use anywhere or they would be secretly syphoned into other state funds. As for putting the funds into the education system, that is fine, except that we don't need more propaganda. What is the point of legalizing a perfectly safe plant and then lying to the kids about it still?
Instead, it would be much more efficient to put the funds into education in a way that could benefit everyone. Such as college scholarship funding, running start programs, school supplies or co-op home schooling. At a time when education funding is being cut with a hack saw, revenue from cannabis taxes could be used to bring the system back to where it should be, without focusing on more lies and propaganda.
To put it all together, this is how taxation should be:
*Taxed at a modest rate (such as 10 cents on the dollar) and the taxes will have limits on how much and how often they can be raised (such as 1 cent per year).
*Cannabis as medicine will not be taxed to qualified patients
*Cannabis will be taxed under a confectionary type tax - if it is taken from it's original state, it will be taxed. In it's original or natural state, it will not be taxed.
*Revenue from cannabis taxation will have a set goal that benefits everyone (such as overall education).
It really pains me to see so many legislators who want to hand cannabis regulation over to either Big Tobacco or Big Alcohol. It seems clear to everyone but legislators, that it's the wrong way to go about things. Alcohol and Tobacco companies have been two of the biggest enemies to cannabis legalization, and who knows how they might handle regulating cannabis if given the chance. There are too many scenarios to consider in that situation and way to many cons to the pros.
Instead, what we need, is a cannabis specific regulatory committee or group. An agency whose soul job is to regulate cannabis and nothing else. It would be their job to oversea taxation, to keep an eye on dispensaries and to maintain balance and justice in the cannabis industry. It would not be hard to take a small portion of revenue from cannabis taxation to pay for a new agency, and would be much more fair and just for everyone involved.
Many states are considering legalization under the idea that the state would have direct control over who grows and who doesn't. This is wrong for many reasons. So let's talk about some of the reasons.
1) Cannabis can be easily and safely grown in your own yard or home. With legalization, there would be less reason for people to hide their crops inside, which is where any fire hazard concerns would arise. Because it is safe and easy to grow, there is no reason people shouldn't be allowed to do so in their own home.
2) Having a state grow cannabis would lead to more unnecessary costs. In a time when our states and economies could really use the boost, we don't need even more costs eating away at the revenue.
3) There is a large issue of trust when it comes to having states oversee the growing of cannabis for consumers. Who knows if they would grow it to have the lowest amount of THC available, or if they would be mindful of the value of certain strains and cannabinoids available in each strain. We'd have no way of controlling if the state grew organic cannabis or used commercial poison - I mean chemicals - for fertilizers and plant food. The only way to know how your cannabis is grown, is if you grow it yourself or you can go through various dispensaries who show you how they grow it. At this point, there is no reason to trust that the state could do it right.
4) The state has many better things to be doing then overseeing the growth of cannabis.
To make it clear and simple, people should be given back the right to grow their own without interference from the government. There should be no limit on how many plants a person can have, or how much fruit each plant can produce. I don't see them out there telling people they can only produce 10 tomatoes per tomato plant, or telling people they can only grow up to 10 tomato plants. It's silly, and so is trying to control the home farming of cannabis.
For those that don't want to or can't grow their own cannabis, co-ops and dispensaries are already available and make a great resource. There is just no logical reason to have states control who grows and who doesn't.
Kids & Cannabis
This has proved to be a tricky subject for most, and there will probably be varying laws and rules in each state. Though in general, I feel that when it comes to cannabis and kids, we should be clear and simple.
*Cannabis consumption should be legal for all adults over the age of 18
*Parents who consume or grow cannabis in the home should not be subject to more scrutiny from child protective services, then any other parent. The use of cannabis does not determine the type of parent you will be, and any abuse, neglect or violation of a childs rights should be treated as they would in any situation, regardless of cannabis.
*Children should be allowed to receive the medicinal benefit of cannabis under the direction of qualified medical care takers and the child's parents. It has already been proven that cannabis is way more effective for children with autism, adhd, anxiety, crones disease and other issues, then the pharmaceutical alternatives. There is no reason to say a child shouldn't be allowed these benefits and the choice for a safer alternative if the situation calls for it.
Employment & Drug Testing
As much as it would be nice to say that once cannabis is legal, that no employer should be allowed to bar a person from working for them for consuming cannabis. However, the right to drug test and deny employment for substance use is not mandatory, nor is it regulated by the government. It is a right of each business to choose to do so, and we cannot change that. If a business feels that it is in their best interest not to hire a person for consuming cannabis, they have that right. Just as they do to fire or not employ a person with an alcohol or cigarette habit.
The only time there should be oversight, is in a situation with patients. If you have a legal prescription for using cannabis, then it should be treated just like any other employment opportunity that uses drug testing. If you can provide the employer with your doctors prescription for medication, then there is no reason to bar you from employment.
Driving Under the Influence
Cannabis may not be nearly as inhibiting as alcohol when it comes to driving, but that doesn't negate the risks involved. Any time you get behind the wheel of the car, you are at risk of causing serious injury to yourself and others around you. And that is without any substances in your system. When you add in substances, you increase the risk, and that includes using cannabis.
Most logical adults agree on this issue. Driving under the influence of anything is not okay. So the real issue becomes - how do we know if someone is high while driving? You can't give a cannabis consumer a blood test, breathalizer or sobriety test to see what level of "high" they are at the time of being pulled over from driving. As of this moment, I haven't heard of any reasonable way to determine if a person is high while driving, and any test done to see if their is cannabis in their system isn't accurate enough to tell if it was from last week or an hour before.
So with all the difficulties in mind, there is really only one solution - if you were clearly having problems operating your vehicle and where pulled over because of it, you could be charged with a DUI, just the same as with prescription medications or alcohol. If you're a danger on the road, then your a danger to the road, regardless of any apparent substances in your system.
It really surprises me that most of the issues being debated right now, have only to do with the consumption of cannabis sativa sativa - a.k.a. marijuana. We debate the right of medicinal patients and the civil right to be able to consume cannabis recreationally. Though what about industrial hemp?
It has long been known that what used to be one plant, is now two separate but related plants. Cannabis sativa sativa produces consumable marijuana, and cannabis sativa indica produces hemp, which can be used to make thousands of different products that have nothing to do with THC. You can build an entire house out of hemp, and that's just one of the few dozen things you can do with hemp.
I don't feel the issue of industrial hemp should be over looked in cannabis legislation. In fact, we should already have industrial hemp legalized and produced as a separate issue from marijuana. The only reason it hasn't already been done, is because of backlash from Big Oil and Timber companies who would lose a lot of profit from industrial hemp being legalized.
Hemp is one of the biggest factors of the cannabis plants that could really benefit our economy and society. It could help everyone to be more eco-friendly and to give more options to those who want to make an impact on the world.