Posted April 28, 2013 by evergreen-culture in Advocacy

Marijuana Quality & Safety Concerns – There Is a Way


SNBC.com had a front page story a few days ago called “Moldy marijuana? Legal markets spark push for health, safety standards.” You can read the article in full here.

The story goes on to talk about this potentially huge public health risk that is coming as pot becomes legal and people actually start buying it…..

You see? That’s the one thing that this article completely misses. People are buying it now! People all over this great state and nation have been finding ways to acquire marijuana through illegal sources for as long as they have been consuming it (WA retail sales are not due to start until December, so it is technically illegal (even under I-502) to purchase or distribute marijuana). There are also countless people (yes, just normal people) growing in homes, basements, closets, trailers, buildings and the like. There is already a billion dollar industry in place in the United States and Canada. Illegal? For the most part. But it does provide a huge sample to actually observe and see what issues are actually happening and which are nothing more than needless panic and fear-mongering (aka propaganda). Oh, and the heading in the article that reads “Marijuana susceptible to mold, pests” is hilarious. It is a plant. Of course it is susceptible to mold and pests. The next time you walk through the produce section of your grocery store just remember that you could say that same thing about anything you see that came from a plant. And yet, we would venture to guess, that far more people have become sick or exposed to dangerous chemicals through legal lettuce and broccoli than through illegal marijuana.

With such a rich source of information available, we would love to see a survey of the number of people who experienced health issues because of the quality of the weed they purchased. Or people who wound up getting moldy marijuana or insecticide-soaked ganja. Are there stories out there that are true? I guess at least two according to this article – out of like tens of millions of marijuana consumers in America. Most pharmaceutical companies would count it miraculous if they only had 2 deaths out of a million users, let alone two health incidents.

The fact is, all but a very, very, very small number of these stories, in our estimation, are nothing more than urban legends creeping into popular culture, and people keeping them alive by propagating them – oh, and fine news sources like MSNBC. Do you even know someone who knows someone who knows someone who has experienced this kind of thing? Most likely, no.

Part of the issue is that the public has been so inoculated against the truth through a steady stream of misinformation and propaganda that the image of the typical pot grower in their minds are thugs and Mexican cartels. Are some of them growing and selling marijuana? Sure. But the overwhelming majority of the cannabis in the US and Canada is grown right within their respective borders by their very own citizens. And when you really take a look at who these people are and what their attitude is toward this plant and the people they are growing it for, it paints an entirely different picture. When you consider the cannabis that is being grown for, and sometimes by, medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries (in the 18 states that currently have medical marijuana laws), it is top quality in most respects. It was grown with care, organically almost certainly, tended to with the utmost attention and knowledge, and handled in a way that ensured the best possible quality, safety, and efficacy reached the person purchasing it. The thought of spraying pesticides on these plants is anathema to these people. Many don’t even use synthetic fertilizers and go through the extreme efforts needed to produce marijuana completely organically. The point is, these medical marijuana growers deeply respect this plant and care about the people they are growing it for. They have put in place their own strict quality standards and practices (as seen in the article in the case of Tripp Keber). A major issue perhaps is that the government is used to only dealing with corporate entities when dealing with FDA issues, in which case we understand the initial concern of, “Shit, are they going to poison us?” However, what we find in the medical marijuana growing community are people who self-regulate to standards that the government might not ever demand.

Our opinion is this: the states that are legalizing marijuana for adults should not approach this as some brand new market that needs to be invented. It is actually an existing market needing legitimization. Do we believe the industry should be regulated? It really doesn’t matter, it simply has to be due to alcohol and tobacco already under regulation, so our opinion matters not. The real issue is not whether it should be, but how to go about doing so. Approaching this market as if it hasn’t already been operating is a bad way to go about this. We have a working model now that would serve beautifully as a template for a legitimate, regulated marijuana industry.

Here is our prescription. Find reputable, conscientious growers within the state and ask them to consult and lend an expert voice to the conversation. Bureaucracy is inevitable, so it will be have to be an exercise in reasonable compromise. But allowing people who have nothing but misinformation and government-propagandized thinking mixed with absolutely no experience or knowledge on the subject, and you get really poor legislature that will later come under public scrutiny – possibly even preventing the state from reaping the revenues they could if done properly out of the gate. By bringing in the people who have been growing and providing top quality, expertly grown, connoisseur-level cannabis, they will ensure that the regulatory goals are actually met – standards that bring about the best and safest product which will support a thriving, legal marijuana culture that will result in beneficial tax revenue for the state.

The government needs to understand that the mainstream of cannabis culture is not against their goal of regulation, including safety and quality. We support it in fact. We like knowing that our beer and wine and liquor were produced under at least some guidelines to prevent serious health risks. We see nothing wrong with bringing that same thinking to a cannabis industry. However, we also know that the government usually misses their chance to get it right the first time and winds up stumbling around as they learn an entirely new concept, industry and societal segment. How about bringing people to the table who are already doing an excellent job of controlling and maintaining high standards of quality and safety – giving them a prominent voice in these guidelines?

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