Nuance and Foresight: Why I Love Working In The Legal Pot Industry

Where else will you find activists associated with an unabashedly capitalistic cause urging supporters to be patient in order to ensure that a policy is as precise and politically perfect as possible?

The California Secretary of State’s Office suggested July 7 as the last day to submit a measure to the state attorney general and request an official title and summary for a November 2016 ballot measure. But the leading coalition will not file an initiative until some time in early September, said Dale Sky Jones, chancellor of Oaksterdam University in Oakland and chair of what’s referred to as ReformCA — the post-Proposition 19 coalition that includes the most effective, major reform groups: Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed that he will lead the ReformCA effort on August 7 on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. Newsom is the head of a steering committee for a blue ribbon commission on cannabis legalization that released its findings in July. Incorporating those findings delayed ReformCA’s initiative, Jones said. “We wanted to ensure our language was well within the parameters [of the commission’s report], so that slowed us down a bit,” she said.

Collaboration has also slowed down the effort, she added. “We care more about getting the policy exactly right. We realize if we’re a little late, it’s going to be a little harder. It’s going to be worth the extra effort to get it right.”

To understand why we’re having this delay you must understand the history of California’s medical pot movement and how its subsequent legacy is putting adult-use weed in danger. We’ve had 19 years of quasi-legal cannabis in this state where a broadly written law has allowed a uniquely lawyer-driven (almost feudal) market to develop here in SoCal. This “mess” might have been created by prohibitionists who never acted in good faith towards this law, but it has been maintained by lawyers who have never wanted to cede control over the dispensary clients that they attracted. Furthermore the state legislature has been very recalcitrant in adopting necessary “clean up” legislation on this issue, so therefore it is incumbent on the industry to develop the good public policies and best practices for legal cannabis.

Plus a good law (unlike one currently under consideration in Ohio for example) has a tendency to sell itself to voters:

Marijuana Policy Project communications director Mason Tvert, who helped legalize cannabis in Colorado, agreed. “I would take a good initiative and three hundred days of campaigning over a sub-par initiative and five hundred days of campaigning — any day,” he said.

Seeing as I plan on walking precincts for this proposal until the soles of my Chuck Taylor’s wear out, I have to agree.

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About stefanbc

I am an attorney who works mainly in criminal defense, child welfare, and medical marijuana advocacy. I live in Long Beach with my wife and four pets. View all posts by stefanbc

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