You can fool yourself into thinking that legalizing marijuana was like breathing air or putting on socks: one of the few things that most Americans can be trusted to agree on.
Since 2012, all major ballot measure relating to cannabis has been put in place before voters easily win; At the time, apart from a few outliers like a publicly funded lawsuit challenging the legalization of voter consent in South Dakota, politicians didn’t even bother trying to do such a hopeless task as curbing cannabis’s winning streak.
That may eventually change. Fed up with the massive illegal growth that continues to spread in his rural Southern California county Society Member Thurston “Smitty” Smith (R-Apple Valley) introduced a bill last week that, if passed, would repeal part of the state’s marijuana legalization law that voters approved and make it a crime to grow more than six cannabis plants again.
And although this effort as written is almost certain to fail, the idea of sending cops after cannabis growers again is gaining momentum—Including with Governor Gavin Newsom, former poster boy for legalization.
Passed on election night 2016, the California Adult Marijuana Law eliminated nearly all cannabis-related felony. The only nonviolent weed related offenses that can land you in state prison are Selling fate to a minor. So the maximum penalty for planting 100 plants, 1000 plants, and 10,000 plants – choose a number! The only limit is your imagination – a few misdemeanors and one year in prison.
It’s a “soft on crime” method (approved by the majority of his voters) that law enforcement and policing lawmakers like Smith blame the spread of explosive growth in his area.
Contacted for comment, Smith’s office has not provided a statement by press time. In a brief press release announcing the bill, Smith said illegal farmers “operate with impunity, knowing that the law allows them to grow undisturbed.”
“It’s been Sacramento for a very long time soft on crimeThe illegal market has exploded with massive numbers of unlicensed hikes popping up across the state.”
Not for nothing, Smith has been a reliable fan of police raids on unlicensed cannabis growers in his area, including a five-month-old grave and counting called “Operation Hammer Strike” by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office which Recently, 15 people were arrested.
In this, he is right: There are illegal plantations all over the state. Both the marijuana industry and Newsom, an early proponent of legalization, have blamed these increases on onerous legal industry struggles.
But who cares? As written, Smith’s bill will almost certainly fail. He needs a two-thirds majority in the state legislature to amend the ballot initiative. As a conservative Republican who endorsed Newsom’s failed recall last August, in the face of Sacramento’s vast Democratic majority – where, according to many sources, the unofficial doctrine about public safety is “no new crimes” – he is unlikely to get it.
However, Smith’s efforts to undo part of the legalization of marijuana represent a growing dissatisfaction with how marijuana is legalized. So far, this frustration has mostly been caused by law enforcement.
Having said that, Smith’s bill can be considered a starting point? What if instead of seven plants that caused a felony, it was 100 plants? How about 1000? Surely any sane person could agree that an acre lawn growing needs a license – and that if they don’t have one, the police should be involved!
This is dangerous logic that could see California begin to imprison people for weeds again. And some influential thought leaders are on board.
By now, most insiders and observers familiar with the California cannabis industry (and even some lawmakers) agree that the state is overtaxing the weed. From a regressive plantation tax to a punitive selective tax to local taxes plus state sales taxes, for every $40 bag of weed, consumers can expect to pay more than 40 percent in excise taxes.
So tax reform is one of the proposed approaches to keeping rationing. Another method is to send cops after the illegal market again.
In an interview with CalMatters, Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and a well-known expert on drug policy, He said Cracking down on unlicensed operators – helicopters, raids and all the old ways – was “much more reasonable than fiddling with taxes”.
Newsom might think similarly. First, he actually encouraged the authorities to weed, send His personal army – the state’s National Guard – is after the illegal farmers. In the same CalMatters article, Newsom’s “weed czar” Nicole Elliott, the state’s director of cannabis control, said the problems with legalization are “not just taxes.”
This is concerning for legal farmers like Johnny Casale, owner of Huckleberry Hill Farms in Emerald Triangle, state.
Smith, he said, “clearly supports Gavin Newsom’s theory: that the black market was failing in California.” “This is their way of preventing the public from understanding the fact that it is taxes that are causing the California market to crash.”
“They can eliminate every illegal farmer, and that won’t help the legal businesses that are struggling,” he added. “I really want to believe and trust the state of California to do the right thing, to protect me, and my back here.”