Regulations and the Modern Marijuana Landscape
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Many adult marijuana users hear the words “regulations” and “marijuana” and they instantly cringe, but the fact is, most regulations governing marijuana exist for your own protection. Sure, people sell marijuana illegally, but that simply can be dangerous. You may not know if the strain is the real thing, how/where it was grown, and there are harmful synthetic types of marijuana. So, while regulations may be a bit of a pain and cannabis for adults has become a legal option in many states, it is important to remember that marijuana products for adults are governed by regulations for good reasons.
Benefits of Regulations Governing the Use of Marijuana for Adults
One of the biggest benefits from the legalization of marijuana for adults is that the entire marijuana industry in a particular state must follow the same regulations. As of now, 31 states allow marijuana for adults for medicinal purposes, and nine of those also allow recreational use as does Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico. Here is an excellent map of states that have laws that allow marijuana for adults to be sold in some way. Oklahoma became the 30th state this summer, but the sentiment is overwhelming for complete legalization of marijuana in all states with nearly two out of every three U.S. citizens (64%) in favor of marijuana legalization.
While there are clear benefits in regards to the legalization of marijuana for adults, from decriminalizing marijuana being good for the economy, for law enforcement resources, and even the legitimacy of the legal system itself (eliminating inherent bias for drug offenses), what are the benefits of the regulations that govern legalization? Here are a few prime examples:
- It is good for public health and welfare. The fact of the matter is, medical marijuana treats a number of serious conditions and may be more effective than other pharmaceutical medicines and treatments. Regulations level the playing field so that growers, testing labs and dispensaries adhere to a set of standards. For consumers, this ensures some semblance of process and safety, so in the end, you know what you’re paying for in that childproof container, and, who is actually selling it to you.
- Nobody likes taxes but, in this case, taxation is a good part of the regulatory oversight that comes with the legalization of marijuana for adults. Why is taxation good? Aside from the fact that it can be used to help pay for safe and proper sales of marijuana, tax revenue can be used to help keep marijuana out of the hands of adolescents. While adults certainly should have the right to use marijuana if they choose, adolescents still need to be protected from illegal drug use. The taxes not only help pay to get illegal marijuana off the streets and out of schools, the sales taxes price marijuana out of the range that most adolescents can regularly afford. Tax revenue from legal marijuana sales also provides additional revenue to cash-strapped states’ general funds.
- Quality Control. Regulations mandate certain standards for marijuana that is legally sold. Simply put, cannabis can be of poor quality and can go stale. With sell-by dates and minimum enforced quality standards, the marijuana that is sold is of good quality and is safe for consumption. This is another health benefit as well. This allows for an expected standardization of potency and quality, and an adult buying marijuana or marijuana products don’t have to worry about the quality of the marijuana products that they are buying. Again, you know what you’re paying for and who is selling it to you.
Negative Effects of Regulations Governing the Use of Marijuana for Adults
Of course, no system is perfect, and there is no unifying set of regulations that govern the sale of and use of marijuana for adults. They vary state by state as there are no federal regulations for legal marijuana sales. Regulations are perhaps a necessary evil and overall, they provide benefits to help keep marijuana users safe and the marijuana trade fair. However, there are some issues with the regulatory oversight of marijuana, even in the states and regions where cannabis is legal.
- There is much confusion over marijuana regulations as you go from state to state. How many plants can you grow in your home? Can you even legally grow marijuana plants or do you have to buy from a dispensary? How much marijuana can you carry or own? Where can you legally use marijuana and how can it be used? Do you need a doctor’s prescription or do you simply need to be of a certain legal age to buy marijuana? These are all great questions and the rules change, even from city to city within the same state. This is a problem for people with chronic conditions that require marijuana for treatment, because each state has different laws and regulations governing who can or cannot obtain marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some states accept cards from other states and some don’t, and transporting marijuana across state borders can be a serious legal violation. There are some resources for state regulations but as they are constantly changing, it is difficult to keep up with all the nuances of the laws in each state. When traveling it is best to do some research and make sure you understand the laws of the state or district that you are traveling to. Here is a prime example. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) regulations now permit passengers to carry small amounts of marijuana on the premises. Unfortunately, the TSA (a federal agency) still considers possession a crime, so if they find it on you at an airport, even at LAX, they will call the police. Federal authorities still view transporting marijuana across state lines as a crime, even if you’re traveling between states where marijuana is legal. Frankly, the confusion over regulation and ever-changing regulations is a mess. National marijuana legalization (following Canada’s lead) will go a long way in reducing cannabis confusion.
- While taxation is helpful for isolating black market sales and keeping marijuana out of the hands of youth, it also drives the prices up, sometimes keeping medicinal marijuana out of the hands of people who need it. Medical insurance plans most likely will not pay for medicinal marijuana, and some people simply can’t afford the most effective treatment that actually helps their condition. The costs of the regulations that help protect people can, in some cases, keep the cannabis away from the poorer people that it can most help.
- The black market still exists and may be more dangerous than ever as safely grown cannabis competes with non-regulated, illegal grows. Another problem is while it is more difficult to sell cannabis illegally, it is still happening, especially in states where only medicinal use is allowed or where no use at all is permitted.
2018 Midterm Elections
Politics do matter in regard to marijuana laws and regulations and the upcoming November elections could have a huge impact on marijuana legalization and future regulations. In general, Democrats in blue states tend to be more open to legalized marijuana laws than Republicans in deep red states. This is not always the case (think Oklahoma), and the results are mixed in so-called purple states, like Colorado, a leader in recreational use laws. Medical marijuana should not be a political issue as at its core, it is a health issue. We welcome politicians of both parties to move forward with federal laws and regulations and remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This in turn may lead to more standardized laws and regulations from state to state, including the ability to carry your medicine on a plane.
Feedback on Regulations Governing Cannabis for Adults
We’d love to hear from you in regards to this topic. Please join the conversation about marijuana regulations and your experiences with them or your thoughts on them. Are there important elections coming up or regulations being enacted in your state that will affect the use of marijuana for adults? What do you think about the current regulation governing the sale of cannabis products to adults? We are devoted to covering the positive impacts that medical marijuana for adults can have on your health and welfare, so if you have insight on current or potential marijuana regulations, please, let us know.
Don Eminizer is a freelance writer with twenty years of writing, editing and proofreading experience.