The American Civil Liberties Union and their allies in Washington state are saying regulators should take small steps when it comes to licensing marijuana growers.
“We want to make sure that every one of the small scale growers who showed up at the Liquor Board meetings, and said they want to come out of the cold and join the regulated system, get to do so,” said Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the ACLU.
The idea is to license small operations at first and see how things go. There is also the hope that a small start will keep the federal dogs at bay. Then if things go well and the feds show no interest in a crackdown, the licensing of larger operations will occur and production will increase.
“We would like to see the state start out small and license comparatively small grow operations, and not allow super-large grows of the sort that some entrepreneurs have proposed,” said Holcomb. “Until what we see what the market is, it is wise to grow what is not quite enough and then ramp up.”
Seems like common sense, but might be a bit of wishful thinking when it comes to the federal government. They need no excuse or reason to crack down on cannabis, as they have shown over the past 18 or so months.
“Initiative 502 dedicates funding to monitor and evaluate the impacts of its implementation on public health, and on youth and adult rates of marijuana use and dependence,” said Roger Roffman, a University of Washington social work professor and a treatment specialist. ”We’re presented with a unique opportunity to measure and compare the effectiveness of a public health approach to marijuana with the prohibition model we’re leaving behind.”
A small approach would aide in the gathering of data, but it’s important to remember that while the opportunity to learn is great, implementing the will of the voters is what is most important. Small steps can easily lead to outright delays in the program, and then you are mired in red tape and the only thing you’re learning is how not to implement marijuana legalization.
The job of officials in Washington and Colorado is to minimize delays and mistakes in licensing marijuana growers. Legalization can be an amazing wealth of economic activity and law enforcement savings, or it can be a disaster of government bureaucracy and incompetence. Over the next several years a few more states will join WA and CO in the grand experiment of cannabis legalization.
They will determine the future course of marijuana law reform in this country. Let’s hope they do their job well.
- Joe Klare