As I have been speaking and sparring with cannabis activists and local politicians over the last few weeks it has become clear that all involved can agree on one thing: it is not a matter of if but when and how we will legalize. The concrete is still very wet on the how question and opinions seem to vary widely among activists and politicians alike. With this in mind it has occurred to me that it could be helpful to set down a few basic principles for what I believe cannabis patients and consumers should demand in their state’s laws and regulations.
From economic generation to significant reductions in overdoses from alcohol and opiate use, to quality life enhancements for sufferers of an ever expanding list of maladies and conditions; positive outcomes have been consistently correlated with increased cannabis access in states that have legalized medical and adult use sales. As such, any policy that restricts access needs to be based in valid science. It is with this in mind that I have authored the following 5 rights. Please let me know if I missed something or you disagree with one of these proposed rights!
- Right to home cultivation: Cannabis is an incredible medicinal plant with very few side effects. When eaten raw it produces no psychoactive effects and is non-toxic unlike many common weeds and houseplants. Dispensaries can be very expensive, patients and adult use consumers should be permitted to grow at home for personal use and non-commercial sharing.
- Right to work: Everyday science and anecdotal evidence is proving cannabis an effective treatment for an ever expanding array of conditions, many forms have no intoxicating effect yet nearly all will result in a drug screening “FAIL” over a week after consumption. This disproportionately affects working poor, first responders and transportation workers who are subject to pre-employment and randomised drug screenings. Presence of cannabis metabolites in the blood, urine, saliva or hair should not be a valid reason to deny or terminate employment.
- Right to Drive: Presence of THC or metabolites in a driver’s blood, saliva or urine have not been shown to closely correlate with impairment in a way that is analogous with alcohol. Though first time users may not be comfortable driving after a one time 3mg dose of thc, a cancer patient on a 1000+mg per day RSO protocol may never be impaired despite sky high blood-cannabinoid levels. Consumers of non intoxicating forms of cannabis such as raw smoothies high in THCa will fail all of these tests despite never having risked any impairment or intoxication.
- Right to Consume: Cannabis smoking should be permitted anywhere that similar tobacco use is. We reserve areas for tobacco users at the very least cannabis patients should be allowed those same spaces to produce our far less toxic smoke. Apartment dwellers who don’t want to be discourteous to their neighbors risk ticketing or arrest in many “legal” cannabis jurisdictions for simply taking their smoking materials outside. These laws perpetuate the bigoted legacy of prohibition by disproportionately targeting poor and minority youth for an activity (smoking outside) that is nearly universal in North American cannabis culture. Young racial minorities, especially those residing in certain low income areas bear the brunt of these policies receiving an astronomically disproportionate number of arrests and citations for public consumption despite evidence that they consume cannabis at lower rates than their white and upper class neighbors.
- Right to Access a Diverse Marketplace of Producers and Products: This is a win-win as a state’s cannabis consumers enjoy can gain access to greater variety and lower prices; workers, taxpayers, landlords and the overall business environment benefit from a diverse competitive cannabis marketplace with low barriers to entry and no absolute caps on #’s of businesses. Cannabis businesses should be permitted to open and succeed or fail as they compete over talent and consumers; boosting the overall economy by utilizing a broad array of ancillary businesses in the process.