I have been debating with myself for months over the issue we face in California regarding legalizing cannabis for adult use. I have sat back and watched as activists and weedheads who I respect and care about have expressed their opinion on the ill-fated Adult use of Marijuana Act, which submitted what is likely enough signatures to qualify for the ballot last month. I have tried to wrap my head around it all and find the silver lining… but I have come up short. I just do not think I can do it. I am sorry.
I was an adamant supporter of Proposition 19 even for all of its faults. I defended the honor of Richard Lee and the Prop. 19 crew with all I had, and made enemies in that battle that still remain today. I did not think it was a great law by any means, but I believed it was “good enough” and that it would change the world. It did indeed change the world, as the close election showed that it was possible to pass legalization laws, and it motivated the efforts in Colorado and Washington that passed in 2012. For 2010, the law seemed revolutionary. Regardless of where you stood in the Prop. 19 debate, one would have to admit that it looks pretty sexy compared to the 62-page debacle that is the AUMA.
The most humorous thing about the current AUMA effort is that you cannot find one person who will give it a full-throated endorsement that it is a good law. Instead you have a bunch of half-hearted endorsements from “leaders” in the cannabis community making such bold statements as, “It is seriously flawed, but it is better than where we are at now” and “I will hold my nose and vote yes because it is better than what we have.” But is it? Is it really? Do the pages and pages of unnecessary restrictions and cumbersome regulations really make things better? Or does it potentially cement in a terrible law through a voter initiative for decades to come? Could it actually end up being much much worse than where we are?
I understand that the law makes it legal for all adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce without fear of criminal prosecution. But that is the case now under decriminalization. It is an infraction and a $100 fine to possess under an ounce. Yeah… You can grow six plants if you can afford an indoor setup, or if your local community says it is okay. It does reduce some penalties for cannabis activity that is currently illegal under California law… if you do not have a medical recommendation. Does anyone who wanted a medical recommendation not have one by now? Not that I think that is a good option, but one I am willing to suffer with for a few more years if need be to get it right. It might be better in some areas than what we have now, but it is also much worse in many areas than what we have now.
I just do not understand why the folks who wrote this felt the need to literally include every bad law from across the nation into one super bad law for the biggest cannabis mecca on the planet. California deserves better. After all of the hard work we have done to bring cannabis to the forefront of the American and global conversation and change how people look at weed why are we working to restrict it in such ways that are a recipe for disaster that will last for many years to come? It is senseless.
I will be detailing the 62-page nightmare after it officially qualifies for the ballot to make my case line by line why the law is not a good option for me personally. Those who are interested in my wayward opinion will be able to see clearly why I think AUMA is a mess. If it were just a matter of the law not doing enough, that would be one thing. But this law just attempts to do way too much, and will ensure that cannabis is regulated, controlled, restricted, impeded, hampered, obstructed, blocked, checked, curbed, and shackled for a long time… if not forever. We can do better and in my opinion we should.
It is not easy for me to say this, but I believe I will be voting against cannabis legalization on November 8th. I could never in my life imagine walking into a voting booth, and voting against a cannabis legalization effort; but alas… the world is often a fucked up place where we are forced to make tough decisions. This will be one of the more difficult decisions I have had to make; but if a man does not stand by his convictions and beliefs then he is no man at all. My belief about AUMA is that it is just not worth it…. I believe that the positives do not outweigh the negatives on this one.
I do not think I am alone either.
I think the AUMA effort will fail on Election Day. I think they wrote enough garbage into it that they gave everyone something to hate. I am not a purist by any means. I understand the need for compromise in these situations, but this law literally gives away the farm…. Or more accurately it gives away tens of thousands of farms. It will handcuff how cannabis is produced and distributed in such ways that we would be stupid to vote yes on it and set forth decades of flawed policy and continued enforcement.
The telltale sign that the law will likely fail at the ballot box is that you cannot find anyone of any prominence in the cannabis movement or industry who can look you in the eye and say that this is truly a good idea. The lukewarm endorsements we have seen let you know that there will be no passion or motivation for anyone to campaign for this thing. All of the opposition that they hoped to appease with their overzealous regulation have still come out in complete opposition. I have yet to find any compelling statement as to why this is a good deal for anyone in the Golden State. What I have heard are plenty of reasons that it is a terrible idea from all spectrums of the conversation. It is hard to run a campaign when no one believes in your effort. When no one can look you in the eye and tell you it is going to be alright then you are generally screwed out of the gate. When the best people can muster is a call to pass this shitty law now in hopes of changing it down the road, then you might have jumped the shark when you wrote it.
There is a long way between now and Election Day and I am certainly open to suggestion, but I have yet to hear one sound statement of why this is a good plan for California. So until some genius can tell me that I will either be voting NO in the Fall, or maybe just not voting on it at all. It is literally one of the most frustrating things I have ever had to say out loud…. “I am probably going to vote against weed legalization.” There you have it. Read it and weep. I know I will. Selah.