North America: Cannabis Summit – Is Weed Immune to Regulation?

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Is marijuana immune to regulation?

Andrew Freedman, formerly Colorado’s marijuana czar, spoke at the end of the day.  He talked about lessons learned in the first state to commercialize marijuana. He mentioned that 20% of the users consume 80% of the products. More and more, it seems as if “regulators” of marijuana are missing the boat, not because they don’t try. Marijuana grows like a weed and its proponents have always fought to evade regulations.

You can repackage marijuana by calling it cannabis.  You can market it as high class instead of the drug of slackers. Legitimize the drug sellers and let the government make money from it.  But it doesn’t change the facts that marijuana grows like a weed, is dangerous and is impossible to regulate. Big Marijuana will take over the industry.


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Dan Adams, Master of Ceremonies, opened the North American Cannabis Summit, yesterday in Los Angeles, calling for neutrality and objectivity.  The choice of Adams, editor of the Boston Globe’s new “marijuana section,” signals that the conference is anything but objective.  Just as the Denver Post promoted pot use in The Cannabist, this section of the Globe glamorizes marijuana usage.

Adams called for a change to favor the marijuana industry.  He doesn’t want a discussion of whether or not “to legalize.” In his opinion, it’s time to talk about “how to legalize.” He wants a more respectful conversation on pot users; we must call them “consumers,” not users. He is deeply concerned about any holdover from the “war on drugs” and “giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Shaleen Title claims cannabis was banned for racist reasons

The second speaker, Shaleen Title, like Adams, is also concerned with the “deeply racist history of the ‘war on drugs’.” Title is a member of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.  In the past, Ms. Title worked as a board member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an marijuana entrepreneur and an attorney. A long-time pot advocate and activist, she was a leader of the campaign to pass Amendment 64 in Colorado.  She is obviously a very biased speaker and, according to Adams, a “marijuana consumer.”

In her talk, Title immediately brought up the rhetoric about Harry Anslinger’s racist propaganda used back in 1937.  Despite her references to Anslinger, she said NOTHING about why Massachusetts and California made marijuana illegal in 1911 and 1913, respectively.  Those states banned cannabis long before Anslinger influenced national policy.

If Adams and Title told the audience about other historical facts, it would be clear that most outrage against marijuana has nothing to do with racism. Mexico banned marijuana in 1920, which they didn’t explain because it would put a dent into their theory of racism. They also didn’t talk about why Egypt called for an international ban of marijuana in the 1920s.  Their speeches set the tone for conference, avoiding “objectivity.”

Title stated that legalization must be taken as a “given.” “Let’s throw out the the pro-pot versus anti-pot paradigm,” she said.  Then we can all look to who can control this new world of legalization.  She gave glowing praise to her fellow regulators in Massachusetts, four different people with different objectives concerning, public health, environment and addiction.   The Massachusetts’ governor, the attorney general and the state’s treasurer appointed Title to the CCC in order to represent the social justice viewpoint.

Social Justice issues still fail after legalization

Title talked about the problem of how privileged white people have been the primary beneficiaries of legalization.  She hopes that Massachusetts can correct some of the flaws in other states.  She mentioned how difficult that objective is when it takes so much capital to open a cannabis company.  Title thinks that regulations that insist on keeping dispensaries 500 feet from schools also hinder equity.  She claims that science and data don’t support that requirement. There was not any mention of the violence and mental illness that increase in the wake of legalization.

After Title’s speech, the floor opened for questions from the audience. The topics of how to keep edibles away from children and how limit potency stumped the speaker.  She had nothing to say about measuring and preventing stoned driving. Title and Adams did not mention the hazardous, toxic chemicals in dispensary marijuana.  Title admitted that opponents’ claims of Big Marijuana have merit; she doesn’t want such a takeover in Massachusetts. She is optimistic that Massachusetts can work towards ending the white privilege that defines the legal marijuana industry.  By the end of her talk, it was clear that legalization of marijuana is not working by any valid public  interest measure.

While Shaleen Title shows sincere concern about equity and social justice, she misses the boat. Her enthusiasm for marijuana trumps common sense about why marijuana was banned in the first place. It’s so ironic that Massachusetts, that state that was at the forefront of abolishing slavery and led the US in its campaign against marijuana, now embraces a new type of slavery, an economy based on addiction.


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