One of the most cannabis-intolerent states for decades, New York, has recently made cannabis legalization a fast-track issue, from city to statehouse. That’s great news, but late week it came to light that some interests do not want a recreational cannabis program that allows individuals to grow their own at home.
That’s something that most any state with a recreational or medical cannabis program does allow, so who in New York is lobbying against this?Big cannabis is, and it’s a great example as to why corporate cannabis sucks rocks, underscoring the importance of supporting craft cannabis.
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a cannabis prohibitionist far longer than he has been a friend of legalization, and as I’ve written here before, was recently on record as stating his belief that cannabis is a “gateway drug.”
Last month Cuomo unveiled his first draft proposal as to what a recreational cannabis program might look like, which included allowing medical patients to grow their own, but not recreational users.
Why do this? A report from Marijuana Moment says the idea may not have been Governor Cuomo’s alone.
Rather, the idea was taken from a 29-page report prepared by New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA) in December and sent to Cuomo. NYMCIA comprises numerous large cannabis companies such as Columbia Care, Etain, PharmaCann, the Botanist, Acreage NY, Vireo Health, and MedMen.
In a chapter of the report titled “The Fallacy of Home Grow,” NYMCIA puts forth a five-point argument against home cultivation. Per Marijuana Moment:
1. Home grow will make it impossible for the state to eliminate the black market.
2. Home grow will make it impossible for law enforcement to distinguish between legal and illegal products, thus frustrating enforcement efforts.
3. Home grow will undermine the state’s harm reduction goal of ensuring that cannabis sold in New York State is grown without noxious pesticides or other contaminants.
4. Home grow will undermine the state’s public health interest in ensuring that cannabis sold in New York State is tested, packaged, and and labeled correctly.
5. Home grow will cost the state tax revenue, thus hindering the state’s ability to fund priorities such as drug abuse treatment and community investment.
As Marijuana Moment points out, home growers will cost the state some tax revenue, but as anyone who has ever lived in New York City can attest, it’s not as though most apartments even have room for a home grow.
But that doesn’t mean the report was written out of a concern over this potential lost revenue. Rather, it’s more a factor of these companies not wanting people to have an option that will cut into their profits.
Cannabis advocacy groups are calling out the bullshit of this.
NORML told Marijuana Moment, “From our perspective, it’s really hard to see any real reason—other than individual and corporate greed—to be against home cultivation at this point. There’s not a lot of rational concerns when it comes to allowing a limited amount of plants for an individual to grow at home.”
And the Drug Policy Alliance stated, “It’s really disingenuous to try to say that it would not be possible to eliminate the illicit market if we allow for home grow. That certainly hasn’t been the experience of other states that allow home grow…. It would make more sense to attribute difficulties reducing illicit market sales to state tax rates on retail cannabis.”
The National Cannabis Industry Association argues that home growers are actually great for the industry: “NCIA does not oppose limited home cultivation. In fact, it can act as an incubator for people to develop skills which can be used in the legal cannabis industry, which benefits businesses as well as individuals looking to enter the market.
Much like home brewing has helped spur interest the craft beer market, limited home cannabis cultivation can do the same in legal states.”
It should be pointed out that some of NYMCIA’s members aren’t exactly stellar examples of the cannabis industry.
The Marijuana Moment piece reports that NYMCIA “recently asked MedMen to leave the group over racist remarks made by company executives.” Another member advocated against “letting certain people with past drug convictions work in the legal cannabis industry.”
Insofar as there has always been a disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws placed upon communities of color, that position in itself is also pretty damn racist.
As demonstrated over many decades in numerous industries, corporations do not care about individual interests or rights—they care about making money.
If that means hurting those without the income to purchase from a dispensary, or those who may not live near a dispensary, or simply excluding people from a rapidly growing industry because they were in the cannabis trade before it was legal, they will do so.
If corporations are indeed “people,” they aren’t the people you should be supporting with your cannabis dollars. Know your grower, and only support those who take the wellbeing of individuals into their business models.