Cannabis legalization, like most things, isn’t perfect, but it is certainly still better than the alternative of prohibition. Instead of arresting and citing thousands of people every year, ruining lives and wasting taxpayer dollars, Oregon is creating thousands of jobs and generating millions of dollars. In addition to addition to the societal benefits, legalization coupled with regulations help make cannabis safer. As someone who helped write Oregon’s legalization law, I certainly support home gardens and threatened to walk away from the project unless Oregonians were able to cultivate their own cannabis. However, as the recent nationwide vape cartridge scare has shown, the licensed and regulated market is much safer than the illegal market as Jean-Gabriel Fernandez writes in the Shepherd Express:
The recent outbreak of what has been dubbed “vaping illness” perfectly illustrates this. Many people across the country have been victims of similar symptoms after vaping. After a swift investigation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified vitamin E acetate as the culprit; vitamin E acetate is a thickening agent popular in THC-containing vaping products in particular.
The CDC announced its findings on Thursday, Nov. 21, and, almost immediately, actions were taken to protect vaping aficionados, and the chemical compound was banned in several states within days—which is the same event that led to the Trump quote shared at the beginning of this article. In places where vaping marijuana is still illegal, however, users can only use illicit and unregulated products that may still contain vitamin E acetate, thus gravely endangering their lives.
When marijuana is legal, products go through an extensive testing process to ensure their composition, safety and potency are all in line with regulations. In Colorado, for instance, all marijuana retail products must go through these tests and be clearly labeled in accordance with the law to ensure there are no nasty surprises for customers. The legality of it enables states to have licensed marijuana testing labs that meet standards agreed upon by industry experts, with qualified, educated employees, quality control, security, sample tracking and massive oversight.
Unfortunately, too many communities in legal states ban licensed and regulated businesses, pushing people into the illicit market. The better policy is to allow legal businesses to flourish with sensible regulations and taxation. By supporting craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf you are not only better ensuring your safety, but also supporting the legal economy and important services like public schools and drug treatment programs. By embracing legal cannabis and improving upon our system, we help remove the stigma that still hurts the cannabis community across the country, including folks in legal states that can still face unfair persecution.