Cannabis Quandaries: You Can’t Please Everyone

We all know how hard it is to please everyone. Some of us try really hard to do so, only to fail time and again. But truth be told, pleasing everyone is an impossibility. People are different. Even in the cannabis industry, an industry that tends to put forth an image of across-the-board unity, someone is always displeased about something.

A good case in point is illustrated by a post on the High Times website. The post discusses an opinion piece written by one of the pioneers of legalized cannabis in California. That pioneer, a man named Steve D’Angelo, longs for the ‘good old days’ before cannabis went corporate.

D’Angelo laments the fact that corporate cannabis has pushed most of the small-time operators in California to the edge of extinction. He also laments that corporate cannabis has done little to bring prices down, forcing people who would have otherwise frequented mom-and-pop shops to turn to the black market.

The Push for Cannabis Freedom

Cannabis freedom is something D’Angelo and his peers fought extremely hard for over the course of many years. What they accomplished in California eventually spread across most of the country. Their reasoning was simple: people should have the right to use cannabis as a medicine.

As a side note, it is clear that medical cannabis is often used as a stepping stone to recreational consumption. Cannabis proponents get their foot in the door by discussing medical needs first, then they wait for a bill or proposition to pass before taking the next step to recreational use.

Getting back to the main point, pushing for legal medical cannabis is often framed as a matter of individual rights. People should have the right to control their own healthcare. Few would argue that point. But consider this: shouldn’t businesses have the right to operate as they see fit? And if that is the case, corporate entities have just as much right to pursue market share as smaller, mom-and-pop businesses.

A Love-Hate Relationship

The cannabis issue is also illustrative of the love-hate relationship our culture has with regulations. We all tend to hate those regulations that negatively affect us. We love those regulations that benefit us. But here is the dirty little secret: every regulation has winners and losers. There is no such thing as a regulation that benefits everybody and penalizes no one.

In Utah for example, the Pure Utah medical cannabis pharmacy in Payson is one of only fifteen licensed pharmacies in the entire state. Limiting state licenses to just fifteen absolutely benefits those lucky enough to have licenses. But it penalizes other entrepreneurs who would like to have a shot at the retail market. One group is happy and the other is not.

Likewise, pioneers like Steve D’Angelo are thrilled that regulations allowing them to operate legally have been established in California. But they are equally unhappy that the same regulations allow corporate cannabis to flourish. They want to see new regulations put in place, regulations that would prevent corporations from dominating the market.

Having It Both Ways Is Impossible

Regardless of how you feel about cannabis legalization, industry development over the last 20 years has very clearly proved that having it both ways is impossible. No matter how cannabis is regulated or legislated, there are going to be winners and losers.

When one group celebrates victory, another celebrates defeat. When one group profits, another loses out. Few things in this life are black and white. No action is without its consequences. If we decriminalize cannabis across the board, corporate cannabis will win. That is the reality.