Although most of the country looks to California as the forerunner of marijuana legalization, for years advocates and cannabis enthusiasts have called out their state for certain issues that have troubled the industry since day one.
Weed for Warriors
The organization website lists its mission as follows: Weed For Warriors Project is a social justice lifestyle brand supporting holistic rehabilitation for veterans through community-based projects, proactive care advocacy, cannabis education and compassion. WFW Project urges change for the empowerment of the people.
Among issues cited by marijuana industry professionals are extraneous taxes, restrictive regulations, and a still-largely thriving illicit market. The WFWP has gathered supporters from all arenas of the state, and worked to draft a proposition that will hopefully ‘fix’ some of the problems ushered in with Proposition 64, which is the original proposition passed by voters in 2016.
The new proposition is still being developed, according to Kiernan, with the intent to let the communities have input into the final piece of legislation.
The New Proposal Addresses Shortcomings of the Previous Cannabis Proposition
Some specific actions that would be ushered in with this new proposal are:
- negate local controls over cannabis business, therefore opening more market opportunities
- Eliminate cultivation taxes, and reduce excise taxes
- Deny local taxes; however, 20% of state taxes collected will be redirected to local communities
The action letter written by Kiernan addresses some of the functional issues of the initial proposition:
“Critically, the vast majority of Californians wanted and expected Prop 64’s passage to create safe, legal and easy access to cannabis in their communities. According to the most recent polling conducted by David Binder Research, voters expectations were and are clear.
‘Eight in ten Prop 64 voters expected a YES vote meant cannabis would be sold in the area where they live.’
Yet, contrary to the will of the majority of voters statewide who voted for the law (over 56%), Prop 64’s passage ushered in cannabis prohibition for over 70% of California’s cities and counties.”
While the initial politics were viewed as a way to put controls over the illicit market, studies have shown that in reality the opposite has happened.
The action letter written by Kiernan also states, “that an estimated 80% of the California marijuana market remains illegal, citing a warning to Gov. Gavin Newsom from his own Cannabis Advisory Committee.”
The effects of the policy have created a sort of class disparity, where wealthy middle class citizens have access to cannabis; yet minority populations and those in a lower economic class do not have easy access.
Additionally, there are key groups of California residents who need access to cannabis and do not have it. Most notably, and the reason for Kiernan’s heavy involvement, are veterans.
The letter states boldly, “This matters for many reasons, not least of which is the lack of access to those who need cannabis the most. For example, in January of this year, researchers from UC Davis and Yale University published the following finding in the British Journal of Medicine: ‘Counties with more cannabis dispensaries show reduced opioid deaths.’ This confirms similar research showing lower suicides and other harmful outcomes from both legal and illicit substances when cannabis is a legally available substitute.”
At Weed for Warrior Projects webiste, the organization educates visitors, stating, “Veterans represent 7% of the American population, yet account for 20% of national suicide rate. The suicide rate among veterans is about twice that of the general population, and has been rising among younger veterans who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. WFW Project finds these numbers unacceptable. The assistance and prescription programs our veterans are provided with are not working. We believe cannabis is the answer.”
Awareness, Funding, and Support for the Pot Proposition
It is still early to know whether the proposition will be allowed on the 2022 ballot, for several reasons. The high cost with signature initiatives, and the high rate of signature support needed (more than 620,000), might make this venture unattainable. Additionally, any efforts for ballot measures are complicated when they are planned for mid-term elections vs. presidential election years.
Funding for ballot measures such as this take upwards of $30-40 million dollars in fundraising. Kiernan is hopeful that with the support shown to him by the cannabis community, that big strides can be made in the next year. However, it might be beneficial to wait for 2024, with higher polling turnouts and more time to gather needed campaign dollars.
“It is time for Californians to make California’s legal cannabis system work properly and we have the solution,” Kiernan says in his action letter.
We expect to hear more news on this bit of legislation as advocates work hard and work together to better the cannabis laws in California.
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