Efforts to legalize weed in California fizzled this year, but the cannabis world is already regrouping for 2016. Which is to say, most of the community is regrouping.
Surprising as it may seem, not everyone who supports access to marijuana thinks the drug should be legalized for recreational use. In fact, quite a lot of medical pot patients think the whole thing is a bad idea with the potential to backfire and hurt MMJ.
“I am a marijuana user, a medical marijuana patient, and I do not support legalization,” said one patient and cultivator who asked to remain anonymous.
Californians adopted medical marijuana in 1996, when they passed the Compassionate Use Act at the polls. The state’s MMJ system has been plagued with a chaotic lack of regulations and frequent federal crackdowns ever since.
Nonetheless, medical marijuana has become such an ingrained part of California culture it’s seen by many as a covert form of recreational legalization. That may be the single biggest reason the feds continue to target the state despite promises by the Obama administration to back off MMJ and legal weed.
Efforts are underway to impose new regulations on the industry in an effort to end federal intervention and control the proliferation of unlicensed dispensaries across the state. At the same time, activists introduced four separate petitions to put legalization on the ballot in November.
All four campaigns fell short, with the last calling it quits in April. The reasons were many: No real funding appeared, major pro-pot organizations decided to wait until the presidential election in 2016, and there were simply too many competing ballot initiatives for any one of them to build momentum.
It’s not clear what the situation will look like in two years, but this year support from medical pot circles was somewhat tenuous. Some advocates behind the legalization efforts had ties to MMJ, but there were no wholesale efforts by the medical pot community to back legalization campaigns.
“A lot of us are concerned about legalization because it could better profit [pharmaceutical companies] than the patients,” said Taylor, who runs the Green Heart Club, a delivery service based in Davis. He declined to give his last name.
The biggest worry for patients and MMJ activists, Taylor said, is money: who profits, and how that affects those who need medical pot. Legalization brings tight new regulations, and small providers have the hardest time complying, he said.
The problem is “more regulation, potentially, with more opportunity for corporations to get involved,” Taylor said. “The smaller fish are typically who gets hosed by regulation.”