The 2015 legislative package creates a basic framework that will support the small and craft farms which make up the backbone of the industry. Department of Agriculture with listing as a crop, tiered business licenses with no cap on the number of small licenses, appellations and best management standards of practice emerge from the legislative process. The legislation also creates a pathway for the vast majority of existing businesses. It even creates special loopholes for a small number of businesses that have thrived primarily thanks to unequal advantage with local regulations. The legislation seeks to create a level playing field for cannabis businesses.
It is time to build bridges and form partnerships with new allies, to build a new understanding of ourselves as active participants in a positive local process. Together, we will create viable pathways to compliance for all farms and businesses.
The statewide legalization initiative is an opportunity to further the work begun with legislation. We must deal with the human rights issue of expungement of criminal records and release of prisoners. We must streamline cultivation to avoid onerous regulations.
The ballot box should be used to clarify the protections established under 215, guaranteeing medical rights and access to all, while supporting physicians in cannabis related work. We, the people, have the ability to define the process and we must do so in a manner that reflects the dynamic landscape of cannaculture.
We must guarantee the rights of everyone to work in the cannabis industry; we cannot allow the past Prohibition to cast a shadow on the future. People with convictions on their records need to be able to participate in this new industry. Restrictions based on criminal records will continue to have a disproportionate effect on low-income and minority populations; this is unacceptable and must be addressed at the ballot box.
In the producer communities, standards and systems that support and maintain a diverse community of farms. These farms created the quality of cannabis that made California world-renowned. We must use the ballot box to build on the initial steps of legislation to clarify and support the needs of cannabis culture.
An irresponsible initiative without reasonable regulation will ensure the playing field continues to favor to the largest, most ruthless operators. Abusive and coercive monopolies will continue to dominate the marketplace. We see a similar situation under full Prohibition; the most ruthless operators define the majority of production without standards or qualitative guarantees.
Industrial production of food has failed us as a system; irresponsible legalization of cannabis would create the exact same model, driving out small farmers and lowering overall quality and destroying quality of life. We have an opportunity to define how this multi-billion dollar industry comes online; it is important that we craft regulations in a manner that will sustain the artisan-scale operators.
There are many voices and participants in this movement. We come to it from different backgrounds and perspectives. We have a duty to learn from each other and work together to accomplish our shared goals of a sustainable cannabis industry that provides clean, quality cannabis to consumers. The initiative process is an important step in this journey, and one we must approach strategically.