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California: billions seen from cannabis boom —amid dissent

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaAs Californians prepare to vote on a cannabis legalization initiative, bullish predictions mount of an imminent windfall. The state capital region alone could reap 20,000 jobs and generate $4.2 billion in business if it becomes a hub for a legal cannabis industry, according to a new study by the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Reuters reports Oct. 17 that the study was commissioned by cannabis investment firm Truth Enterprises. "The Sacramento region should be to cannabis what Detroit is to automobiles in terms of both a center of innovation as well as production," said Truth Enterprises partner Daniel Conway. "This region has the ability to be to cannabis what Sonoma and Napa are to wine." Conway is certainly confident. He just left his job as chief of staff to Sacramento mayor (and former NBA star) Kevin Johnson to pursue his future in the cannabis sector.

The study is based on a maximal model. If local leaders impose restrictions on the number and type of cannabis businesses, the study foresees only 1,600 jobs and $322 million in revenues. Clearly, Conway hopes to use it as propaganda not only for Prop 64, but an aggressive free-market approach to its application.

But it is exactly such ambitions that fuel the "Stoners Against Legalization" phenomenon—fears that Prop 64 could open the floodgates of corporate cannabis.

Such critics prominently include Dennis Peron—the legendary activist who led the campaign for Prop 215, which established California's ground-breaking medical marijuana program in 1996. This week, Peron is in Humboldt County campaigning against Prop 64, the Eureka Times Standard reports. He sees the pending initiative as a means for big business to wipe out the "honesty system" that prevails in the state's current cannabis economy—squeezing out the little guys through burdensone taxation and regulation. "People don't realize that money is a form of tyranny," Peron said on the hustings. "You pay them and you won't get busted, that's how they control people and this will force an even greater underground market to form."

Peron also fears that Prop 64 would solidify canabis as a recreational drug rather than medical. "I proposed 215 to help sick and dying people at a time when cancer and AIDS patients were being criminalized for their medications," he said. "They made up 'recreational' to demonize and trivialize the people who use marijuana... Prop. 64 is a misrepresentation of what marijuana is primarily for, and this kind of legislation will hurt a lot of people..."

In the oppose corner among California's longtime cannabis crusaders is Chris Conrad, who is plugging Prop 64 on his website The Leaf. HIs "five whackiest rumors about legalization" page lists Whacky Rumor #2 (right behind the spectre of GMO cannabis) as:  "Legalizing marijuana for adults destroys Prop 215 medical marijuana rights." Conrad responds: "Prop 64 does not change Prop 215 (HS 11362.5, a.k.a. Compassionate Use Act or CUA), it adopts other state medical marijuana laws as they are... It then adds a few rights such as protecting parental and custodial rights regarding the children of medical marijuana patients."

Conrad also insists: "The Prop 64 initiative favors small businesses, restricts monopolies, licenses small-scale seed breeders, secures regional naming rights and does not provide any licensing for GMO strains."

In a flashback to the battle over Prop 19, the failed 2010 legalization initiative, we will soon see which side wil hold sway with California's voters.

Cross-post to High Times

 

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