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Will New York’s Recreational Marijuana Policies Be as Dumb as California’s?

Gov. Cuomo throws his support behind a ban on home cultivation, possibly on behalf of already entrenched pot groups.

New York may be following California’s bad example and legalizing recreational marijuana in all the wrong ways, guaranteeing an oppressive, potentially punitive environment where the government decides the market’s winners and losers.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support and recommendation for legalization in New York apparently came with a very significant string attached: no home cultivation allowed.

A month before Cuomo detailed his recommendations for legalization, Marijuana Moment reports, he received a policy statement from the existing medical marijuana industry officials with their own ideas. It an entire chapter devoted to warning against allowing New Yorkers from growing their own marijuana at home.

  1. Home grow will make it impossible for the state to eliminate the black market.

  2. Home grow will make it impossible for law enforcement to distinguish between legal and illegal products, thus frustrating enforcement efforts.

  3. Home grow will undermine the state’s harm reduction goal of ensuring that cannabis sold in New York State is grown without noxious pesticides or other contaminants.

  4. Home grow will undermine the state’s public health interest in ensuring that cannabis sold in New York State is tested, packaged, and labeled correctly.

  5. Home grow will cost the state tax revenue, thus hindering the state’s ability to fund priorities such as drug abuse treatment and community investment.

Weirdly, “Us growers may not make as much money” did not make the list. But they of course made sure to point out that the state may not make as much money. They know their audience!

Let’s dismiss the dumbest of these arguments first. Bans are what prompt black markets to crop up. It’s almost comically stupid for a bunch of medical marijuana dispensaries to suggest that legalizing a home-grow operation somehow fosters a black market. And they most certainly know it. But government officials are generally unwilling to admit that they are the cause of, not the solution to, black markets.

The health questions raised by home-grown marijuana are issues that consumers should evaluate for themselves. The industry’s position here resembles the arguments of people who try to prevent amateur home chefs from selling their baked goods to the public. In both cases, the public health argument is a fig leaf covering a desire to protect someone’s market share.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Scott Shackford on Reason.com
Published: February 22, 2019
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