Legalization, decriminalization. What’s the difference?

Well, this week, we celebrated 420 — officially the Highest of Holy Days in the stoner calendar. Celebrations were a bit muted due to Covid, but, we all know, there was some celebrations happening. Hopefully, 710 we’ll be able to celebrate as a community again. If you don’t know what 710 is, it refers to the fact that 710 looks like OIL upside down. Remember the blond joke about the woman who had. 710 cap fall off and she called her boyfriend, who then discovered she was talking about the OIL cap? That’s where that reference is from.

So, 710 refers to the day we celebrate cannabis in oil form, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and the various concentrates that are out there. So, get ready for July 10, kids. Get your cannabis decorations and have a party in the back yard. If you can – legally. We certainly don’t advocate for anyone doing things that are illegal.

I am remembering last year – and being home on lockdown – and laughing hysterically at our governor’s executive order that said package stores and dispensaries were essential businesses. And the memes on 420 were awesome. My favorites were the ones about the irony of cannabis being considered essential, while still being technically illegal. And my absolute favorites were the “if you told me that the government was going to tell me to stay home on 420 and bake myself silly, I would have called you crazy.”

But, this is where we were a year ago. And in some cases, we’re still here now. Tony & Sarah are still out of work because of Covid. I’m the only one on the EIBWB team back at work full time.

So, there has been a lot of movement in the push for legalization on state levels. More and more states are either decriminalizing cannabis, or they are legalizing it. But, it’s really a moot point in many ways, until we can see the federal government doing something.

So, let’s start with the difference between legalization and decriminalization. Decriminalizing cannabis would mean police could no longer effectuate an arrest for someone possessing under a specified amount of cannabis, or using cannabis. For instance, someone possessing less than a 1/4 oz, in CT., at the worst, would receive a $150 ticket – amounting to the equivalent of a very expensive parking ticket. And persons with larger amounts of cannabis would still be subject to arrest.

Legalization means that arrests for possessing cannabis would be over and done with. No one could be arrested for possessing cannabis. Unless, again, they were operating a drug factory – the black market. Not the street level dealers, but the ones who are higher up on the food chain.

Currently, in “recreationally legal states”, such as Colorado, California, and Massachusetts, the feds have taken a largely “hands off” approach. In early days, we were hearing about the DEA shutting down dispensaries and legal grow operations. We’ve deviated from that, thankfully. But, we have so much farther to go. We really do.

Some changes that have occurred this year – the federal government has a bill that would end the prohibition on banking institutions so that customers who are legally operating cannabis businesses to be able to utilize the services that any other business in the banking industry possible. Most of the dispensaries operate a largely cash business. If you are lucky enough to have a dispensary that allows debit cards, you will pay an extra fee every time you use that debit card. It’s around $3 a transaction. But, that $3 adds up. And dispensaries don’t want to charge that amount, but they have to, because banks will not work with them. Believe me, your budtender at the dispensary wants you to spend that $3 on more product. It hasn’t passed the full Congressional vote yet. And we are running out of time. Contact your senate leaders and tell them that you support that bill. The senate has routinely killed every pro cannabis bill that has come before it.

President Biden seemed to be leaning towards legalization while on the campaign trail. Now, he’s barely even on board with decriminalizing cannabis on the federal level, and leaving it up to the states, individually, to decide what’s best for their state, which is not what he said on the campaign trail. Sadly, it appears that Biden, like any other politician, will say anything to get elected. He actually doesn’t even want to discuss it now. When asked, his press secretary deflects the question. The time is now to start calling your lawmakers and demanding legalization.

If left up to the individual states, we will see states that opt out and won’t legalize it – or – as some have done – restricted how it can be used, to the point of being completely unreasonable. Connecticut says that no dispensaries can sell candy “medibles”. You’re perfectly fine to go home and infuse chocolate or gummi bears – but you can’t buy it. There was one state down south that had legalized medical marijuana, but it couldn’t be smoked. It couldn’t be vaped. It couldn’t be in medibles. It could only be in capsule form. Are you serious? Reefer madness, y’all. I’ve heard some people say “well, that’s not bad”. Yeah, it is. Because you will still be left with a patchwork of laws that will arbitrarily change over an invisible line on a map.

Florida, this week, killed a bill that would have put limits on the amount of THC could be in cannabis. Levels so low that a medical patient would likely be forced to the black market to get stronger cannabis to get the pain relief, the seizure relief, the Parkinson’s relief, that many of us are looking for.

Various doctor groups are lobbying hard against the legalization or expansion of medical marijuana because they still call it the gateway drug, ignoring a government study that shows addiction to opioids in states with legal cannabis plunged an average of 42% since legalization.

Decriminalizing is a start. But, it’s not enough. When CT decriminalized possessing less than a quarter oz a few years back, a lawyer I know quipped “we should all stand in front of the police station and light up a joint.” I remember laughing – but, really, was it funny? No. We’re being forced to beg the government to possess a PLANT. It’s called weed because that’s what it is. I don’t recall seeing the government banning the possession of ragweed. Yet, here we are.

Published by EIBWB

Just a middle age biker chick, learning how to navigate through life with a disability, and how medical marijuana saved me

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