Legalization vs decriminalization

Published Oct 6, 2019 12:00 p.m. ET
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Cannabis legalization is quickly becoming the accepted new normal, and a goal that many regions have set to reach moving forward, but is this decision truly in the best interest of consumers? Though there are certainly some exciting benefits to legalization, it also comes at a cost, one that not everyone is happy to pay. A price so high, that it might be pushing out the very fabric of what it was that created the industry in the first place, long before prohibition was lifted.

If you take a look around and assess the average consumer, you will likely find that most have a story that predates legalization and that those experiences were the result of hard work, energy, time and expertise of some pretty incredible people including growers, sellers and runners who spent years dedicating their lives to the art. Many of whom now have little more than a criminal record to show for it.

At first glance, cannabis legalization appears to be something to celebrate, but the only changes that were made into law were intended to protect the consumers, and mainly from themselves. There is absolutely nothing to help the average Joe who spent years being persecuted against to bring the people what they wanted, pure all-natural marijuana products.

The unfortunate truth is that cannabis legalization might be more of a bane on the industry than it is a safe haven, which is why so many activists fought hard for decriminalization instead. Now, if you think that both of those terms mean the same thing, then you would be mistaken, and that is precisely why this terminology needs to be exposed for what it really is. Legalization is no more than government meddling, restriction, and suffocation of what could have been a bustling and ever-expanding industry, and to show you why we will need to go over what it and our alternate option decriminalization really mean.


Cannabis legalization is taking place all over the world, starting in Canada. When this type of legislation is brought forward, the rules can differ slightly depending on political opinions, but one thing remains the same, and that is, there is always an extensive list of restrictions. Most of which, if you were to disregard, you would probably find yourself in a prison cell, charged or in the very least, fined for your decision.

Now, to some less experienced people, this sort of oversight might appear to be a safety net, one that helps to protect everyone involved right from consumers, all the way up to the dispensary owners and cultivators.  The problem is that the limits set are arbitrary and not based on fact, and what is perhaps the worst failing of cannabis legalization is that it fails to honor those who’s backs were all that held up and created the industry’s pre-legalization, many of whom still to this day, while we all celebrate, are fighting to clear their names in an attempt to have a future.

That isn’t everything that is wrong with legalization though, only the most urgent aspect that needs to be addressed. Below, you will find a list of some of the most glaring issues for vendors, growers and consumers of a legalized cannabis industry.

  • Licensing that doesn’t require skill or history to obtain

  • Prices are artificially inflated and set by the government

  • Old school growers and dealers find it nearly impossible to enter the legal industry

  • All marijuana products are taxed

  • Consumers needs are ignored over financial gain

  • Medical patients suffer by dealing with uneducated and inexperienced budtenders at dispensaries

  • Consumers must abide by arbitrarily chosen limits when it comes to cultivation and carrying marijuana products during travel

  • Manufacturers are more focused on meeting government regulation than patient and consumer wants, which leads to mediocre products like tasteless and inefficient edibles

  • Those with prior criminal records are not being exonerated of their marijuana-related crimes

  • It is not legal to buy or sell cannabis from unlicenced producers making it impossible for skilled and experienced small-time growers to continue with the craft

  • Decriminalization

    Cannabis legalization doesn’t sound quite so wonderful after reading through a list like that, which exposes the truth behind the trickery of using similar terminology. Decriminalization is an entirely different ball game that is much easier to understand, and it helps everyone to benefit. Though government and health officials might not be too excited about giving up on this monopoly that legalization creates, decriminalization offers far too many benefits to ignore, including:

    • Grow a limitless number of marijuana plants

    • Carry any amount of cannabis on your persons without charge or fines

    • Allows for a free market to flourish with cultivators and vendors competing for consumers money, which ultimately benefits the quality of marijuana products on the market

    • No restrictions on manufactured products

    • Only rule surrounding consumption is age-related

    • No limits on homemade goods

    • Freedom for vendors to set their own prices

    • Cultivators are given the ability to experiment rather than growing all of the same kind of weed, which adds a wider selection of strains and effects for consumers and medical patients to choose from

    • Clinical research is easier and less restricted

    • Those with experience growing, cultivating or selling are able to continue as usual with the only difference being extra taxes paid on income every year

    Whether or not they ever realized it, most consumers, vendors and everyone else that is currently involved with the cannabis industry, would probably be much better off with decriminalization rather than legalization. The trouble is that governments might not be willing to let go of the new cash cow until they have completely killed the industry. Only time will tell if the people will grow tired of being told what to do and push for this massive change, but no matter what it takes, this shift is an essential component to the market’s survival in the future.

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