By Jeremy Daw
High taxes, burdensome regulations, ruinous application fees, and artificial scarcity only seem like good ideas compared to prohibition. The War on Drugs has set a low bar, indeed. As political compromises, the kinds of heavy-handed rules now spun for regulated cannabis industries in Washington and Colorado were arguably worth supporting, as a way to move government incrementally away from police state mode and toward a free society. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be any fun.
These would all be welcome developments, but sooner or later sharing cannabis will depart from the realm of mere charity to become an overtly political act. Seasoned activists, armed with a sense of righteousness honed through decades of civil disobedience, will find a new target: high taxes, heavy-handed regulations, and maybe most of all the insensate greed which poses the only real threat to legalization still left intact. Multinational corporate conglomerates, already positioning themselves for the emergent market for legal cannabis, may resort to ugly tactics: monopolistic protectionism, price gouging, union busting, targeting addicts, targeting kids. If this happens, a grassroots movement – call it ‘Occupy the bong’ – may form to fight such blatant commercialism by creating one in which for-profit companies cannot afford to compete. Why would anyone pay for weed if they can get it for free? In an age of obvious regulatory capture, such a people’s movement provides the strongest protection of liberty.
These are dynamic times in the cannabis industry. Much has been accomplished, and much more – for both good and ill – may be just around the corner. But even as the ugly side of commercial regulation may rear its tangled head, in Colorado at least lies a corrective solution: a market for marijuana which is truly, completely free – in every sense of the word.