There's undoubtably a number of lenses with which to look through on decisions such as these. The MORAL lens. The FINANCIAL lens. The PERSONAL FREEDOM and that of BUSINESS and PUBLIC GOOD. It's a complex issue and therefore, it's a complicated piece of information we're putting out that will no doubt get taken as advice. First off, the bottom line is, we have to know some hard truths about cannabis and we have to be able to trust that the common ground is stable, vetted and for the most part true. Arguably the single most important question at the center of this is: "Is Cannabis use safe for adults who use it in a sane moderation?"
Now, common ground should unilaterally dictate that we have an unbiased and trusted standpoint that cannabis use is relatively safe or at least LESS HARMFUL than a sampling of other legal substances that adult citizens of our state regularly consume such as alcohol and tobacco. On that, the research is pretty straightforward. Although a psychotropic drug shouldn't be so carelessly labeled as 'safe', the risk of bodily harm, such loss of control to warrant law enforcement intervention, short & long-term adverse health effects and/or severe psychosis are extremely rare and usually minor in severity. Again, I'm not recommending that any adverse health effects should be shrugged off, especially when it comes to long-term mental degradation or the possible on-set of major psychological illness such as schizophrenia, it's just that when we compare marijuana's potential harm to alcohol or tobacco use, it can be minor at best and comparable at worst. We need to know this to be able to make an informed decision on the remainder of these points.
Do more people in our communities need to spend more time out of their head? Whether high or drunk, is this something we want to tolerate and encourage as a normal behavior? Go ahead and explore your personal feelings here but I have landed somewhere in the realm of; 'Human's have historically and routinely enjoyed mind altering states as a means of entertainment, spiritual discovery and to reflect on personal insight." Some and possibly many use them as a form of escapism. It's my opinion that people so inclined to escape from their own realities are going to find a means to do so whether legal or illegal, safe or dangerous, readily available or complicated to get. This would be irresponsible use and for that there is very little we can do legislatively to stop them. Furthermore, unfortunately, I do believe that some young minds will be stressed to an unnatural state while using cannabis and that is a monumental catastrophe. Unfortunately, that is also a reality of our species and something we have to cope with in our societies. Although individuals who are susceptible to mental illnesses should use extreme caution when dabbling in any psychotropic substance, its thought and likely that their mental illness would be triggered in some way anyway. For all of the above reasons we give MORALITY a 'SLIGHT PASS" grade.
Times are changing. The world grows smaller. Corporations grow larger and their reach longer. Our country is in the middle of not only a pandemic but likely a severe recession. Our education systems are failing, people don't spend 20 years at a career anymore, many jobs can be done remotely with internet and a smartphone/laptop and the middle class is shrinking. Montana, for all its amazing attributes, is hardly the epicenter of commerce. Most kids leave the state to make a living. Our technological infrastructure is lacking so even though many of us can work remotely, it's still a challenge to in many locations around the state. I believe there are two emerging industries right now. Block Chain Fin-Tech... and Cannabis. And Montana can surely grow and manufacture cannabis. Due to our seasons, we're not going to out grow America's bread basket but we have a healthy farming season and incredible farm land in the Treasure state. There's no reason (save for the current regulations) that we can't create major cannabis brands in Montana. Beverages, tInctures, geographically advantageous strains, and concentrates. There's vast opportunity here. What else are we going to do in Montana for work? The timber and natural resources industries are struggling, we're not a transportation hub. Hell, aside from tourism, this should be a major Montanan money maker. Financially, cannabis legalization gets an 'ENTHUSIASTIC PASS".
This is kind of the bottom line for me. As Americans, we shouldn't be banned from smoking or using marijuana. Many people did and do, in spit of the illegal nature of the plant. As far as I could tell growing up, the legal status did very little to dissuade people from using it. Plain and simple, if we can legally buy alcohol, we should legally be allowed to buy weed. The fact that so many people have paid severe consequences for possessing or using marijuana is a tragedy and something we should rectify immediately. Personal freedom also gets an "ENTHUSIASTIC PASS".
"Legalize it and tax the hell out of it!" is something I hear regularly. One, I don't want marijuana to be taxed any higher than other public commodities. Two, looking at the states that legalized before us, the monies brought in from taxes benefit the public good very little. In fact, there's a lot of information and arguments that the public cost to deal with the problems brought on by legalization out weight the revenue benefit for the public. It's such an anti-American sentiment to over tax a product. I think we should regulate and tax within reason and no use the Public Good argument to win this fight. Unless that is, we're talking about medicinal use. The first hand experiences I've seen, the stories I've read about, testimonies heard and watched around the world pertaining to health benefits from cannabis use are INCREDIBLE! While the medical science is still exploring the possibilities and combinations of cannabinoids, radical pioneers have been forging ahead for decades and benefitting from using cannabis. Aside from treating pain, nausea, anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, inflammation and so much more, I don't think it's too far out there to state that cannabis use is actually treating and curing various forms of cancer. AND DOING SO WITH COMPARATIVELY MILD SIDE EFFECTS compared to the cocktail of drugs our neighbors and community members are typically prescribed to fight these sadly common ailments. We can advocate for tax revenue and medicinal benefits but again, we have to be real and understand that legalization will no doubt have more people using. That includes kids, teenagers, the lazy, and lots of people who just generally don't need another crutch in life. Progress is hard enough when you're sober but again, those looking for escapism are can also find it in excess tv or video games. For the public good, this gets a "SOLID PASS".
Now we get to where the cookie crumbles. *Sigh. This is why we can't have nice things and I'm afraid the ugly truth of our destiny is unavoidable. 50% of existing Montana Cannabis Industry Personnel will tell you NOT to let these measures pass this November. Why? Because no matter what the follow year holds:
-No recreational licenses given out to new operations in 2020
-Medical Dispensaries have a full year to singularly operate in the recreational space
-You can't jump up cultivation tiers without first starting at the smallest and then selling 70% of your grown crop annually and rising tier by tier
we will face behemoth, out of state weed corporations shortly after and they will do everything from driving the local mom and pop businesses under, to raising the price of product, to lowering the quality of product, to lobbying and controlling the legislature and compliance branches of our industry and generally make it so that Montanan business owners have a 3-5 year window before Walgreen's Weed takes over and puts the rest of us the way of the Western Black Rhino.
There's rumors circling that the funds for "New Approach Montana" the organization that is responsible for getting adult use on the ballot, all came from out of state interests. I heard St. Louis but I hear a lot and that doesn't make it true. What does make me nervous is an understanding of how things work in this country. We don't value local quality and integrity, we value scalability, and branding and convenience. On those fronts, corporations will win. It'll take a tech giant with millions of dollars to set up an online ordering and delivery system so consumers can order and receive marijuana at their doorstep within the hour. It takes massive infrastructure and logistics to give people the service they're used to in other sectors of their lives from food delivery to Amazon shopping. Legal marijuana will simply become another normal commodity in that societal system and my friends... I'm not sure there's anything we could do about it even if we wanted to. Business is competition... and service to your customers. The tie-dye, hippie, black-light, mushroom head, funkadelic culture of the past is on it's last breath. Our dispensaries look like Starbucks. Our packaging could sit on the shelves of Rite-Aid next to Maybelline and Sephora. Soon, there will be PTA moms passing pre-rolls and drinking 2mg micro-dose canned spritzers. That is our destiny and we can embrace it, pivot rapidly and make a buck, or we can unify, campaign for a NO vote and stay medical. Most dispensaries are turning a profit post-untethering I'd think. For that reason, I can understand the reluctance to change. Even asking around to the legal states, most people will tell you it was better during Medical-Only, before the flood gates opened.
It's sad to see things change, but change they will. If you're in the business, you've gotta be smart and be quick. Scale if you can, partner if you can't.
The Missoulian recently published an article with the following information: It's also worth noting that New Approach Montana has so far raised more than $4.7 million. Its largest contributor, by more than $1 million, has been the North Fund, a 501(c)(4) outfit based in Washington, D.C., with a scant online footprint. In response to a question submitted by email Wednesday asking what interest the North Fund has in contributing $2.9 million to passing marijuana legalization in Montana, spokesperson Naomi Seligman issued the following statement:
"The North Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonpartisan social impact organization, partners with committed community leaders to help make our country a more just, fair, and equitable place to live, work, and raise families. We focus on supporting innovative social entrepreneurship, educational initiatives, and advocacy campaigns that lift up communities and create real and lasting change."
The organization's 501(c)(4) status also means it does not have to disclose its donors.
The bottom line is that marijuana should be legal for adults to grow, buy/sell and use. I don't see any other way to slice this if we're a free people. YES there will be growing pains and YES there will be some challenges to overcome. Lot's of us will be replaced by those who can do it better but that is the nature of all things. From the vantage point of the public, they can only see the promise of legal weed. The ability to go into a near-by store and grab a joint or a bag of flower. To smoke with a friend at a bar. That's a powerful vision and that's why we're going to see this pass in November.
Time is of the essence. The window for making an argument for or against this is now! We should be having the discussion. If you have an opinion or information you'd like us to consider and share, please send it to email@example.com for review. Stay safe friends. Stay healthy and be well.