Corporate greed muddies flowers

Lack of long term regulation increases chance of inflated market


By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

Ending the prohibition of cannabis is inevitable in California, but it should not be forced.

Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana among people who are at least 21 years old through Proposition 64 does not justify the creation of another tobacco industry.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), created if the proposition passes, fails to protect working people’s rights through two excise taxes — $9.25 per ounce flower and 2.75 per leaf cultivation tax — and a 15 percent retail tax and restrictions on issuing certain large scale cultivation licenses until 2023.

What makes this AUMA so deceiving is the amount of good it would create in terms of potential for public health and social justice.

The revenue from these taxes, estimated to generate $1 billion annually, would go into the Marijuana Tax Fund to further research of  the effects of marijuana, explore how law enforcement will monitor use, and create community-based treatment and rehabilitation programs.

If AUMA is enacted, marijuana possession of up to 28 grams of flowers and 8 grams of concentrates will be decriminalized. This would be a critical step in reducing the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.

The legalization of marijuana is needed, but we cannot ignore the potential for corporate greed and the marginalization of consumers and entrepreneurs wanting to start a business.

AUMA does not protect against companies like Monsanto from hijacking the retail industry through mass production, increased retail prices and lowered product quality.

Cultivation licenses for large indoor, outdoor or mixed lighting will be administered through the Bureau of Marijuana Control starting in 2023. This may seem like it protects the rights of the working class, but it gives corporations more time to get ready to take over the industry.

Political action committees in support of the proposition have received large investments from donors tied to the tobacco, technology, agricultural and oil industries who view Proposition 64  as a means of maximizing profits.

Pro-AUMA supporters have funded about $22 million while opposing groups and individuals have raised only $2 million, giving the pro-Proposition 64 forces a huge advantage.

Regulation is necessary, but not through a proposition that does not grant current and future medical marijuana patients complete tax immunity.

While large companies have the funds to pay extra to harvest, it is doubtful that local entrepreneurs will have the funds to pay for the $148 per pound in flower tax alone, plus the additional taxes that local governments will be allowed to levy.

Too bad the people who are against AUMA are doing so for all the wrong reasons. Virtually all of AUMA’s opponents are Republicans or Libertarians who have never consumed marijuana in any of its forms.

Marijuana is not bad. The people who want to exploit the struggle of thousands of people are bad.

If conservatives who never put cannabis in their bodies knew the mental and physical benefits of legal marijuana it would already be legal, and safeguards would be in place to keep costs low and ensure the growth of the middle class.

AUMA, in its current form, needs to fail and there must be more grassroots involvement to ensure that language is included that will restrict large corporations from becoming the next Budweiser or Philip Morris of the world.