The Triple Bottom Line of a Cannabis Farm in Mendocino, California.
The Triple Bottom Line of a Cannabis Farm in Mendocino, California.

In the first part of this two-part column, we discussed the philosophy of local control and the sweeping tide of bans going across California right now. In this part, we discuss what can be done.

What Can Be Changed — A Call for Unity

Indoor vs Outdoor. Clean Green vs Certified Biodynamic. Seed vs Clone. NorCal vs Central vs SoCal. All of these are factors that divide the cannabis community, and they are all artificial. Outdoor growers who advocate for the banning of indoor are hurting the community. Indoor growers who encourage outdoor cultivation bans are hurting the community. NorCal farmers who want to monopolize production are hurting the community, and so are SoCal producers when they pursue industry dominance.

Is indoor or outdoor better? Let the market decide. There aren’t any indoor growers coming to meetings, so how can we represent them? is an argument I hear often about indoor specifically but it raises a larger point. I hate to break it to you but the hard part isn’t over. To lift these bans and to get a decent adult-use initiative passed, massive outreach and activation need to happen. Now. But who will do it? Part of the industry’s problem is there isn’t one organization that represents the majority of the community, but there are several who activate within their niche. It’s unclear whether they communicate regularly between each other, but my guess is that they don’t much.

There are a handful of patient advocacy groups with varying levels of effectiveness including NORML and ASA. CCV on the state level hasn’t been active as of late, and the CCVH group has fractured into a much smaller version of its former self. CGA is gaining traction and has a lobbying team, but they aren’t yet universally perceived as being the unifying voice. Then there’s MCLR that is working on the adult-use initiative that will hopefully contend with the Adult-Use Legalization Act (aka the Parker Initiative). MPP and CCIA are also in the mix, and CCIA is quite involved in state politics.

What cannabis needs in California (and many places) is a better ground game. Talking with state officials is great and important work, but you need to show you actually represent a community or that becomes meaningless. If you aren’t reaching out to the diverse niches of your community (indoor farmers, outdoor farmers, value-added producers, patients with serious conditions, adult consumers), then your organization doesn’t represent your local cannabis community and is almost certainly not meeting their various needs. You represent a faction, and that is not the symbol of unity we need to show at the state level. We have real opposition (I won’t call them enemies), particularly law enforcement/prison lobbyists, misinformed parental groups and pro-Prohibition elected officials — we can’t keep sniping at each other and expect to change anything.

Empower each other and the market combined with state regulations will decide what businesses float and which don’t. There is a powerful toolbox available for free online that is intended to help people develop their communities and make positive change from a grassroots level. Every battle is local, and other regions can lend some support but locals need to be a force for change in their respective areas.

Don’t be greedy, and don’t try to punish law enforcement or other perceived enemies because like it or not, they are also a part of your geographic community. United we stand a chance. Remain divided and this mess will only get stickier.


  1. Hi Allison,

    I ready both parts of your “California binges on cannabis bans…” article, it was nicely put. Then, following your advise I went to your posted link to the “Community Tool Box.” Gulp!

    I understand transposition, using one thing as an example for how to do something else. But, seriously, the intricacies and convolutions, the parts within parts within parts, of the Tool Box were both overwhelmingly taxing, and at the same time confusing…IMHO, all unnecessary to the task at hand here.

    Yes, I understand the local-level byzantine, even machiavellian complexities of the issue here: getting cannabis to everyone in California who needs it for medicine or just wants it for recreating. I’ve been immersed in them since gathering signatures for The Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

    I understand the complexities, the difficulties of unraveling what amounts to a Gordian Knot when it comes to cannabis legalization in California.

    What we need, desperately need, is, like Alexander the Great did, to stop wasting time trying to unravel our contemporary Gordian Know, all the local prohibitions against cannabis, with a single slice of our own contemporary “sword” like Alexander did way back then.

    This can best be done with a voter approved initiative, not legislated, law that takes cannabis control away from cities, for individual use, and rural commercial cultivation bans away from counties. Right now we can’t see the trees for the forest of local ordinances, so to speak.

    Simplest way out of this would be for the voters of California to approve state control, not local control. Within incorporated areas only individuals can grow for themselves. Outside of city limits, larger grows should be permitted for cooperatives and collectives, and, commercial cultivation in areas where other commercially grown crops already are grown. Treat cannabis cultivation no different than wine grape cultivation, treat cannabis distribution and sales no differently than wine. Simple.

    Yes, of course there are those of us who thrive on, can’t live without drama, are addicted to just how many times can they slice a human hair down the middle, so to speak. But are we to continue allowing such unnecessary nitpickers to nitpick our lives to death? I surely hope not.

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