“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” – Nelson Mandela
In an industry that has required a great deal of advocacy and grassroots initiatives to push legislation toward the acceptance of medical and recreational cannabis, it’s frustrating when two steps forward lead to one step backward. And so is the case in many regions where cannabis legalization and progress are often stunted at every corner.
Michigan patients and advocates recently felt the sting of worry when former Michigan State Police Sgt. Donald Bailey, an appointee to the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, stated his belief that all medical cannabis collectives in the state should be closed in anticipation of the state’s new licensing structure. Although no decision has been made, it’s downright ridiculous to witness this example of how the “War on Drugs” continues to be perpetuated despite all the other progress being made in the “Great Lake State.” With two recreational cannabis petitions in circulation and plenty of well-intentioned patients, advocates and lawmakers determined to support cannabis reform, it is clear that despite possible setbacks, Michigan residents will continue this fight and inevitably move the state forward.
Michigan is not the first state that is faced with possible negative effects associated with forward progress. Washington’s medical cannabis community took a huge hit when recreational cannabis regulations were enacted. As the state merged the medical and recreational cannabis programs, the regulations were not in favor of the dispensaries that were currently operating. This crippled most medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, forcing them to shut down, affecting over 100,00 patients statewide.
Therefore, there is a very real fear that something similar to this could happen in California, as officials are merging the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act in preparation for the January 2018 rollout. However, in this budding industry, we have the ability to learn from our mistakes. This gives us hope that California lawmakers at the city, county and state levels are aware of what happened in Washington and are capable of avoiding the same devastating outcome.
Across the United States, as our industry continues its forward-moving trajectory, and many other states throughout the nation demand that we deserve the right to safe access to cannabis, let’s not be fearful because the “War on Drugs” continues to present battle after battle in this 80-year war.
As leaders in recreational cannabis states like Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska fire back at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his ignorance surrounding legal cannabis, defending their states’ rights to cannabis reform, let’s work hard to embrace one another despite our differences, while focusing on the one true goal we all share. Cannabis reform nationwide has to happen, and we are the driving force that will ensure its success. In the words of Nelson Mandela, let’s remain relentless in our fight, with a clear intention to demand the freedoms we are awarded as Americans.