Turning ever onward, the wheels of change seem set to push us forward into a more glorious future at a greater rate than most would have predicted. Despite the continued resistance from some fronts, the intelligent majority have definitely awoken from their slumber and no longer fear retribution from the closed minded. We would like to express our congratulations and sincerest thanks to the vocal voters of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia on the legalization of recreational marijuana.
For individuals in Alaska, Measure 2, as it is officially known, should come into effect by February of next year and it gives plenty of freedom for those who wish to self-medicate or enjoy marijuana recreationally. At any one time an adult over the age of 21 can be in possession of an ounce of marijuana without fear of reprisal from local law enforcement, however the volume of bud in their possession is given flexibility if they are cultivating for their own needs. A self-sufficient grower can have 3 flowering plants on their property and a further three in the earlier stages of growth. Once plants are harvested, the entirety of the crop can be kept at the location with no official limit of volume set as of yet (although I would assume that anything which is far beyond the expected yield would probably be questionable enough to raise a few eyebrows and flare a few nostrils). Furthermore, once cropped and cured the marijuana may be given to another consenting adult, free of charge, within the one ounce limit; hence communities can rely on more experienced growers to supply them with their own holistic medicine.
Purchases of marijuana will be made in licensed marijuana retail outlets, but this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the commercial aspect of legalization. There are currently four proposed business types which will come into existence as a result of Measure 2: cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities and the final retail outlets. Consequently, we can be assured that there will be a sound infrastructure of quality control and regulation put in place by the new governing body to ensure that the initiative runs well and there are few causes for complaint. Perhaps the most significant part of the legalization ruling is that public consumption is strictly forbidden and those who grow their own plants must ensure that the plants are not grown in the open (although that’s just common sense really).
Oregon’s Measure 91 is similar to Alaska’s route of progression in that it allows for an individual to grow up to four plants of their own, yet they believe that the possession of eight ounces of weed is an acceptable volume. They too are developing their systems of regulation for production, sales and taxation with the lion’s share of profit due to be reinvested in education and law enforcement. In contrast to this, the District of Columbia has legalized possession and cultivation without expanding the legislation to cover sales and taxation. Whilst the bill was passed with a significant majority of 69%, it is far from certain to come to fruition.
Although the different areas have slightly different views on their acceptable use policy, all these initiatives speak volumes to the wider world as we take ever-more-confident steps towards overturning the system of prohibition which has failed us all for so many years. Few would question that the benefits of regulation serve the entire community of any state which ends prohibition and we only need to look at the historic events surrounding alcohol to see how much things can change over time. Whilst these changes are hugely significant it should come as no surprise that some people already seek to challenge them before they officially come into effect.
In Florida, the green revolution suffered its first real setback when voters fell short of the 60% needed to push the legislation through. Perhaps this could be a case of campaigners resting on their laurels but it’s more likely that a harder push from those opposed to the progress of the green revolution is to thank for this little hiccup. Whilst this is hugely disappointing, it should in no way be seen as sign of things to come: it may well further the cause of our opposition, thereby bringing them out in greater numbers at the polling stations, yet it only takes a few more of us to make our feelings known to cancel out any shift in popular belief.
Had Florida turned out differently, it would have been the first of the Southern states to usher in a new era for agriculture and many hoped it would set the standard for others to follow. It’s never easy to change the mindsets of people who have lived by a particular set of rules for an extended period, as it becomes an ingrained behavior which will be defended to the end. Fingers are all pointing towards issues within the campaign itself and hoping that the apparent issues with an inherent partisanship were more than people bargained for. Who knows when this chance may come around again?
Despite the urge to celebrate the aforementioned successes, we must all remember that these changes are still subject to change. Some camps are hoping that the elements of legislation regarding public consumption will be flouted in the coming months, thereby giving rise to a whole host of ammunition for the opposition as peaceful, fun-loving pot smokers light up and rejoice without stopping to consider the consequences. Whilst America is showing some hugely promising signs, it is important that we don’t let ourselves down through childish actions. If you are fortunate to live in a green state, check you know exactly what you can and can’t do and don’t lend yourself to the type of statistic which keeps coming back around to bite us. We’ve come a long way, baby. But there’s still one hell of a long road ahead. Paint the town green but keep it clean.