The State Revokes Freedoms and Imposes Costly Regulations on Medical Growers
In 2014, Oregon voted to legalize cannabis for recreational use. This didn’t go into effect until summer of 2015, and even then, the ramifications of this change in law were not immediately clear. Although most people favor legalization and we were happy to see the prohibition end, we knew there might be negative impacts as well. We saw the first of these at the end of January in 2016 when OHA (Oregon Health Authority) came up with a bunch of new regulations for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), which has been successfully facilitating the growth and distribution of medical cannabis for decades.
A public hearing was announced not even a week before it would be held in the Medford Library. Jackson County has a formidable team of local activists and word went round quick. People were encouraged show up and speak up for OMMP, which was being taken over by new interests - big money in collaboration with the state.
I pulled up to the library a few minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin. I parked across the street and walked over to where a large crowd of people were gathered on the sidewalk at the library’s entrance. Signs were held high, and some people were engaging the passersby, getting quite a few honks.
I spoke with one of the organizers who was kind enough to appear on video. The microphone failed to pick up her voice very well, so I have not included the video. But when I asked her, for the sake of my readers, what the protest was all about, here is how she responded.”
“We are here to protest the Oregon Health Authorities decision to promulgate some permanent rules that are excessively onerous. They require a great deal of financial investment in order to comply with, they want compliance by March 1st, and they’ve just come out with these rules. They are invasive, they are restrictive, to the point of making 85% of our smaller growers unable to provide medical marijuana to their patients.”
I asked her why she thinks they (the OHA) are doing this, and she said it has to do with money. Forcing small growers out of business because they can’t comply with all the regulations opens up the market to big commercial interests that are poised to take over the industry.
From conversations I had with some other people in attendance, I learned that Measure 91, the legalization law, had a clause specifying clearly that new laws regulating the recreational cannabis industry were not to pertain to or interfere with the existing medical program. The new regulations being put forth by the OHA did just that, and it was not sitting well with the people.
(Here is another report filed by a group called the Budtenders Society.)
Patients in Oregon get their medicine for free. If most of the growers get shut down and only huge operations stay in business, this will no longer be the case. Most patients could not afford to buy their cannabis, and so quite a few patients turned up that day to let the representatives of the OHA know that these laws were threatening their access to medicine.
Some people were pretty pissed off. It was obvious to all of us what was going on, and it was clear that state would be hearing from the crowd at this hearing.
When they finally opened the doors to the meeting room we all moved in. Only by then the crowd had grown and they ran out of chairs, and then the wall spaces filled up and they started muttering about fire safety. Quite a few people were not able to get in, having to stand out in the halls.
The event was slow to start, as they had some trouble getting the sound system set up. One at a time, people could come up and give their two minute statement about new regulations, and all of the comments were being recorded for later review. Our comments, we were promised, would be considered in the decision making that we would take no part in.
Before the official comments began, one man rose, holding a packet of papers containing the new regulations being proposed. “By raise of hands, can I see how many people want to scrap the whole thing?" Every hand goes up. Anybody think this is going to be good for us?" "No." Then we should just throw this whole thing away,” he said, dropping the packet to the floor dramatically and strolling right on out the door. This got some cheers, but the lady in charge of facilitating things reminded us that such comments made before we started would not go on record. (Not in her records, anyway. The internet caught it!)
When the comments began, they were unanimously opposed to this sudden regulation change, and appalled that it would be foisted on them with such little notice. I didn’t stay for the entire hearing, having other things to do, but I got the message clearly. People don't like the government regulating their lives, but we still don't have any effective way of resisting their aggression. To this, we must turn our attention.
This was back in January, and later the state would back down on quite a few of the regulations, which eased everybody’s mind, but they are still adopting new regulations that are going to interfere with people’s grows. It’s that slippery old trick of throwing a whole bunch of awful stuff into a law, and then when the public protests, you take out all but a few strategic parts of it, making the public think that they’ve won, that their voices swayed the decision, when in fact they’re still getting screwed by more laws and more ways to get fined or even shut down.
It's obvious to me that legalization, though it may appear to be a move in the direction of freedom, is really just the system consolidating their control of a really profitable industry. James Corbett had a really informative interview recently on this topic.
Legalize and regulate. They will make it illegal for ordinary people to grow and sell one of the most medicinal plants known to man, whilst they turn it over to big pharma and bio-tech companies like Monsanto to mass produce this sacred plant.
The only meaningful answer to all this is agorism. It doesn't matter what laws they make, what regulations some bureaucrats come up with. Farmers should just grow their crops. People should just live their lives, choosing not to be intimidated by bullies and gangsters. We don't have to live by some set of rules that other people make for us. We can come to reasonable agreements with each other without the need for violence. This is how most people conduct themselves on a day to day basis. It seems like it should be so easy, yet it's very hard for many people to see. It requires getting over many layers of mind control that have been established to convince us that violence committed by uniformed agents of the state is somehow legitimate. Once we begin to see, though, we can live our lives a different way. We can help others understand their true rights, the true nature of freedom.
More updates on the impacts of legalization to come in future reports.
For those interested in other ways to protect yourself from the absurd war on drugs, check out the work of Barry Cooper, an ex drug raid cop who's natural sense of humanity overrode his training and came to see his work with law enforcement as criminal. In compensation for all the lives he helped ruin, he has gone on to help people avoid getting busted (Never Get Busted) and how to best navigate the rapids of the legal system whenever one is abducted by their armed agents. I met Barry in person earlier this year at Anarchapulco, and he is a great guy, earnestly doing what he can to return the world to some semblance of sanity!