Why I Don’t Support the Medical Cannabis Dispensary System in Massachusetts.
hint: its racist!
Cannabis should have never been criminalized. It was a terrible mistake motivated by racism and ignorance that most Americans are completely unaware of. Cannabis should have never been placed under the controlled substances act either. Unfortunately correcting wrongs and standing up for fairness and equality are not popular ways of spending time in America these days.
When medicinal cannabis was legalized in MA, I expected social justice issues to take a back seat to the new multi-millionaire out of state players, and their needs wants and concerns.
I also expected politicians to jump in and try to get their beaks wet too, changing regulations to favor their long held fears and biases, and more traditional (prohibitionist) constituencies instead of any new constituents that may be in support of cannabis consumers.
I knew that we were essentially setting up another racist system of cannabis distribution, and decided very early on to be weary of the medicinal cannabis market and the monopolies that government is creating and maintaining for them.
Just as I expected, we see even more racial disparity in the newly emerging cannabis distribution paradigm and legal markets, than the older models and markets, that were less legal but much less encouraging of market monopolies and the growing lack of diversity in market participation.
I was an early patient in the Massachusetts Medical Cannabis program. Met and paid my doctor $200, and then paid the state $50, for the benefit of being legally able to consume cannabis for the period of 12 months before I had to pay $250 again for the next 12 months. There is now one dispensary in Boston that I am aware of. (Milk St) and there are a few in surrounding commmunities. (Brockton, Lowell, Brookline, Saugus)
Its a lot to pay for relatively no local services. The state has misled people into believing that if they pay for their mmj card there will be numerous acceptable options for them, but this has never been the case. Most people understand fully well that the MMJ card offered in MA is simply a purchased protection pass from law enforcement. Its a racket.
That’s why you see a tremendous gap in registered cannabis patients in MA, versus dispensary visitation. The need for a MMJ card in MA is actually an old fashioned shakedown wherein cops ask if you paid, if you didn’t then you are a criminal. Citizens are scared of abuse from law enforcement! This was supposed to be a medical program for the benefit of patients! Paying a fee has NOTHING to do with whether you need cannabis or not. This betrays the fact that the distribution laws are being changed for the benefit of big business and law enforcement, not the voters and consumers that have been fighting for their rights for decades.
They have been fooled and lied to, as the state sets up new monopolies for cannabis through medicinal dispensaries and the very few rich and connected people that are able to enter such a protected and highly restrictive market are able to effectively criminalize other sectors of the market, that are older, more respected and serves more people.
It is extremely hard for me to support such an industry when the inequality is so clear and blatant and there is so little concern to remedy such effects.
If the legal cannabis industry here in Massachusetts is simply another racist public institution, closed to people that have historically been mistreated in this industry, then it does not deserve my support or respect.
I tried once. As i was pulling up to a local medical dispensary there was an older white cop, standing outfront, greeting people and telling them where to park. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that they actually wanted me, a black veteran with PTSD to go and interact with police before I pay for my cannabis?!! The first person you see at local medical dispensaries is a cop!?
I’m not going to go and pay the police so I can have legal access to cannabis! Fuck that! I have heard stories from patients about being searched, metal detectors, institutional attitudes, and more cops, all being part of their medical dispensary experience in MA. I’m good with that. I get treated like a criminal enough in my regular life as person of color.
I will never support a system that rewards my oppressors for abusing me, while ignoring racial discrimination. Its unconscionable! But its Massachusetts and the city of Boston. A quick internet search betrays the way Americans have come to understand and see the New England region as an old and firm bastion of Racism.
Clueless politicians and residents will continue to bring their ignorance and biases to the table to ensure a system that works for very few and is more effective at strengthening the black market than encouraging the market to change. That has been the strength of most massachusetts politicians up to now.
In order to have a fair system you must first acknowledge the wrongs of cannabis prohibition and the drug war. But we live in a city where the police department, politicians, and most others refuse to admit their racism even after ordered to do so by the courts!
They refuse to see cannabis consumers as contributing members of society too, and decide to see the new cannabis market as a problem to be grudgingly dealt with… (kind of how black people are treated, you know? Bias!)
NOT the rare and true opportunity it is to repair historic wrongs,NOT the unique new market opportunity that could very well be the economic growth locals long for, NOT a way to practice courage and inclusion and community building, NOT an opportunity to craft a new market that serves everyone, and NOT a refreshing opportunity to address racial injustice, cultural lies, revisit the mass of harmful propaganda that has been immorally fed to the American public regarding cannabis.
No, they see taxes and regulations., and unfortunately not much else but their cultural fears of cannabis consumers.
I refuse to support yet another racist paradigm.
If locals want their new cannabis market to work, they had better get real fast. Equality looks like full market participation by those that have been harmed from the drug war. Without it, its a racist system. That may be seen as fine and perhaps expected in most of our other existing public institutions, but i won’t help build another racist system if i can manage it at all.
A distribution model that accepts the very real history of racist and immoral cannabis prohibition would have addressed all aspects of the issue (as the law written and passed by voters is designed to do!). When people refuse to face facts, they recreate the same problems again.
I understand, like economists and sociologists that have looked at the issue, that in order to encourage full market participation, taxes must remain low or even close to voluntary, and regulations can not be overly restrictive or aggressively enforced by law enforcement. Law enforcement has had a big hand in this situation, and it is immoral and naive to now act as if law enforcement has not been the prime proponent and supporter of the immoral and violent drug war and the racism and ignorance that follows.
What’s wrong with the people of Massachusetts?
Chief from BostonCannabis.Info
Check out The Boston City Council’s Cannabis Hearing Report to see what Bostonian’s think would help make a more fair legal market for cannabis.
12.14.16 Doc 1206 Marijuana Equity Committee Report – FINAL
This is how the city of Oakland, CA addresses this issue.
Oakland: Revised Medical Cannabis Regulations Focus on Diversity and Equality