Citizens of Ohio: Your Biggest Choice is Your Biggest Chance - be the first medical, recreational and industrial marijuana state

Submitted by Lory Kohn on Tue, 10/12/2010 - 23:50.

Cannabis Convention - Denver, CO April 02, 2010 from Cannabis Commerce on Vimeo.

Pro-pot, progressive-minded voters of NEO, are you envious of the tremendous legalization inroads made in pioneering states like Colorado? The ones Norm Roulet described on realNEO here and here? Well, with the benefit of a couple years worth of hindsight, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually improve upon legalization models developed by California and Colorado.

That’s right – disparaged, denigrated, and despoiled, Cleveland and NEO have a unique opportunity to shock the nation, transforming urban blight to urban bliss via cannabis commerce as Norm envisions with here and here.

But that can only happen if NEO pot proponents get it right from the start. I urge you to.

And I’m here to tell you exactly how you can.

First, let me explain how I know a little bit about poteconomics. 

By complete coincidence, in May of 2009, I moved to a once deteriorating Denver neighborhood now known far and wide as “Broadsterdam” (South Broadway + Amsterdam) or “dispensary row.” No one knew what a “dispensary” was. A mere 17 months later, I can walk to thirty of them and select from hundreds of High Times centerfold strains grown under optimum lab conditions. Here’s a closer look. {}. Talk about “thriving under the influence!”

Hog heaven, right?

Yes and no.

Yes, because this is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime, every time I set foot in a MMC (medical marijuana carecenter) I’m a kid in a candy store, and I launched Cannabis Commerce to cover the cannagrowth exploding all around me.

No, since a terminal cancer patient living in the conservative corridor between liberal Denver and Boulder, in a dispensary-free burg like Broomfield, is forced to scramble for his meds.

Yep, in Colorado – as in California – it’s all about the “meds.”

Who gets them. Who doesn’t.

If 75% of the medical marijuana cardholders weren’t technically “fraudulent” – given recommendations by sympathetic doctors for maladies that fall somewhere south of being run over by a threshing machine – only a minute percentage of Coloradoans could transact at MMCs.

Compare that with Norm Roulet’s proposal to add recreational and industrial use, the full monty, to your referendum to legalize marijuana from the get-go.

Do you want to be another copycat state, which goes to incredible lengths to pass pot legislation intended solely for the chronically ill? I hope not. I don’t recall Thomas Jefferson, hemp grower, author of the phrase, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” limiting the allotment to the chronically ill.

So, your biggest choice is your biggest chance: do you want to be a medical marijuana state, like 14 others, or the first medical, recreational and industrial marijuana state from the outset?

The former choice insures things will stay exactly the way they are for 98% of you. The latter choice means the sky’s the limit. Up to you.

And while you’re drafting your referendum, don’t forget to etch it into your state constitution, meaning it’s there for perpetuity. Colorado’s the only state that’s got that one right so far.

The benefits of daring to be different

A lot of you read Norm’s account of his recent trip to Boulder CO, where I’ve spent most of my adult life. He was pretty ga-ga about the place, with good reason. And it’s not because they automatically assign you a Tesla for residing in the 80302 zip code.

The main reason Boulder’s so desirable, apart from the obvious scenic allure of the Flatirons, is that the city dared to do what no other city dared to do at a time it made a difference, that is, commit to buying all sorts of “open space” to build a buffer insulating itself from the encroaching ticky-tacky suburbia that sprang up everywhere else.

The city’s been buying farms and ranches to protect its borders for forty years. It’s still buying them today. And, oh by the way, yes you can ride your mountain bike or walk your dog on those lands.

That bold decision made for a healthy, less-polluted lifestyle, with a ton of visual impact. It guaranteed a huge upsurge in property values compared to surrounding areas.

But you don’t live in scenic Boulder, Colorado.

Perhaps you live in East Cleveland, a godforsaken toxic wasteland by the lake.

That’s actually a good thing! Why? It’s a fact of life you have to down to go up. You don’t jump high without bending your knees, and you don’t build eco-skyscrapers without digging foundations deep into bedrock.

So, the concept of metamorphosing a godforsaken wasteland into “an urban Eden” is more glorious than elevating less desecrated parcels of god’s green earth. The concept will attract even more press attention and contributions from environmental organizations. It intrigues tree huggers like me from 1,200 miles away.

So, when the time comes to cast your vote, and it’s coming a lot sooner than later, be daring: make sure that ballot includes recreational and industrial use!

That said, there’s no denying that it will take much more initial groundwork to implement the latter, heretofore unattempted model. There’s also no denying that groundwork will pay off exponentially over the long haul. So be prepared to dig in for a worthwhile cause.

What else can Ohio improve on?

The Cali and Colo legalization models: long, drawn-out affairs

Thirty dispensaries within a one-mile radius of my home didn’t happen overnight . . . although it seems like it did. After Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, Medical Use of Marijuana, in 2000, Denver’s dispensary scene germinated for the better part of a decade. California passed the Compassionate Use Act four years earlier, in 1996; it took time to simmer there, too. Legislators held up the parade of progress until around 2008 when the first MMCs (medical marijuana centers) made their appearance.

Unless you feel like living in a toxic wasteland for another decade, don’t word your referendum so that cannabis commerce takes 8-12 years to painstakingly progress from legalese on paper to brick and mortar on a street. Instead, plan to become “the brightest, greenest East Cleveland” right out of the gate!

Regulatory shocks after the fact

Medmar, as opposed to full-on legalization, invites endless wheel spinning on the city, county, and state levels. I don’t know about you, but I’m not in favor of paying my elected officials to erect a nanny state which controls what I can and can’t light up after a hard day’s work – much less to keep revising their bizarre innovations ad infinitum.

Medmar also gives regulators carte blanche to run amok after the industry begins finding its own equilibrium, the exact state of affairs free enterprise is designed to promote. Don’t allow regulatory boards to devise Big Brotherish innovations like video surveillance “from seed to sale,” as we saw this summer with Colorado HB 1284.

As described here, {} HB 1284 was set up as “an exercise of the police powers of the State for the protection of the economic and social welfare and the health, peace, and morals of the people of this state.” It’s a safe bet having their morals policed wasn’t what 150,000 and counting Colorado cardholders and industry players had in mind.

Don’t allow The Thought Police to go all authoritarian on you after the fact! Have your guidelines and regulations in effect before the party begins, not after. If you’re not strong about this . . .

Imagine pouring all your blood, sweat, and tears into starting up a successful cannabusiness. You jump through every hoop, comply with every existing regulation, only to lose your license because the Department of Revenue suddenly decides you’re located 999 feet from a daycare center instead of 1,000 feet!

That’s the favored harassment technique in Cali and Colo. Think about it: just how real is the problem of toddlers toddling out of daycare centers and into dispensaries to horsetrade milk money for hash oil? That sort of thinking is as contaminated as the Mittal superfund site.

Nip this in the bud! Don’t let cannabis commerce get off to an explosive start, as it did out west, only to find cannabusinesses eviscerated by regulatory larks after they’re already established.

Tax revenue: choke the golden goose or go for the gusto?

The amount of taxes that can be collected from medical marijuana, nothing more than a niche market, is minuscule compare with the megabucks that can be collected if marijuana isn’t saddled with an accompanying adjective. Why cripple the nation’s #1 commodity? Do you want an economic savior or an incidental tax source that can barely finance a community dog run?

Don’t mess around, go for the gusto! Be a model for every seemingly moribund hellhole on earth. Dream big about projects like Capstone, and don’t allow shallow-minded naysayers to drag you down.

Like everything else worth working for, there is a sacrifice

What about the people with debilitating diseases who need releaf NOW?

Won’t going for the whole enchilada instead of settling for the tortilla chip prolong their quest for the palliative releaf of legal cannabis therapy? Why, yes it will. That’s a big price to pay. Unfortunately, big changes with big payoffs come with big prices to pay.

It would be nice to have no pain for a lot of gain, but this is Planet Earth, not Planet Perfect. Easy for me to say since I don’t have a chronic illness, right?

What I’d say to that is that I’d expect friends and relatives to keep aiding the chronically ill by helping them obtain underground meds – for the moment.

Doesn’t that mean “caregivers” face arrest and imprisonment, according to whatever draconian laws are in place in Ohio, while referendums for full legalization are being drafted? I’m afraid so.

Here are the benefits of making that sacrifice:

  • Everyone participates in the transformation, not just a few.

  • Everyone’s environment becomes energized from free cannabis enterprise, not just the environment for the most debilitated.

  • Money to care for debilitated persons and future debilitated persons becomes more available from tax proceeds generated by free cannabis enterprise.

  • Friends and relatives who aid the chronically ill have more money to help them with cannabis jobs instead of unemployment checks.

  • Cleveland becomes a model city, not another me-too city.

I’m not going to kid you. Passing a marijuana referendum instead of a medical marijuana referendum is the rockier road. However, fencesitters might be psychologically more inclined to vote “yes” if they know people with chronic illnesses would not receive legal meds unless the referendum, which includes provisions for recreational and industrial use, is passed.

What do you want?

So Ohioans, what’s it going to be?

Do you want it functional or dysfunctional?

Do you want to be a wishy-washy, confused, goofball state like New Jersey, which holds the “rights” to growing marijuana so close to the vest they only offered these rights to one university, Rutgers, to grow the entire states’ supply, choosing to eschew a cannabis economy altogether (which the university actually turned down)?  

Or do you want to be the first state or municipality voting to end prohibition from the get-go, getting people working again for decent wages in the new cannabis economy, adopting RealNEO’s vision of being a model green growing center and distribution hub for the world?

Your biggest choice is your biggest chance.

Chief Inspirational Officer Lory Kohn at the Cannabis Commerce launch.

This article is cross-posted at Cannabis Commerce at
Citizens of Ohio: Your Biggest Choice is Your Biggest Chance

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“So I decided to grow up and became a marijuana farmer.”

My mom, who thinks our cannabis proposal for Ohio is pure genius, saves me articles about the cannabis economy from newspapers and journals she reads - most recently an article in the NY TIMES yesterday titled In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron about arts foundations in California funding their work by growing Medical Marijuana, which makes you realize that the most creative people in the world have a choice where to live and will choose to live where they may be free, and may best afford to be creative. Places like California have always had more appeal for creatives than places like Ohio... and now this...

Life Is Art, recently began to reap a new kind of financing, in the form of tall, happy-looking marijuana plants. Late this month, with some help from the sale of its first small crop, grown under California’s liberal medical marijuana laws, the group plans to present an inaugural exhibition on its land, of sculpture and installation work by more than 20 visiting artists — some of whom will have helped bring in the harvest. The foundation’s hope is that income from succeeding crops will fully support such projects, in perpetuity, creating a kind of Marfa-meets-ganja art retreat north of San Francisco and a new economic engine for art philanthropy.

At a going wholesale rate of $200 or more an ounce in the Bay Area for high-quality medical marijuana, it’s a lot simpler than raising money the traditional way, the project’s organizers point out. And — except for the nagging fact that selling marijuana remains a crime under federal law — it even feels more honest to the people behind Life Is Art. They see it as a way of supporting the cause with physical labor and the fruits of the land instead of the wheedling of donors, an especially appealing prospect in an economy where raising money has become more difficult than ever.

“The whole game of finding support just started to seem so childish,” said Kirsha Kaechele, the foundation’s director, as she hauled a plastic tub of freshly harvested cannabis hybrid branches up a hill one morning recently on her rolling land just outside of Santa Rosa. “So I decided to grow up and became a marijuana farmer.”


Ms. Kaechele (pronounced KEH-shell-uh), 34, has spent the last decade directing public art projects in New Orleans. But after Hurricane Katrina and the recession, her operation was on the brink of collapse. That is when she started to think about the money-making possibilities of the rural land in Sonoma that she and her business partner, Jaohn Orgon, had bought six years earlier.

They are loath to provide details about how much marijuana they hope to produce with the first harvest — plant limits vary from county to county, and they worry about how the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, which made an unannounced visit by helicopter in September, interprets the limits there. But their goal for next year’s crop is to generate $1 million after expenses to be used for art projects on the farm and to send back to support their programs in New Orleans, which they hope will ultimately be financed entirely by the farm.

“We think it’s a completely realistic number,” Ms. Kaechele said.

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Here is what Ohio is counting on right now - Gambling

Here is what Ohio is counting on right now to save the economy... the only accomplishment of this generation of Democratic leadership under Strickland et al - Gambling.

Lottery, Keno, Slots, Horseracing, Casinos, and now Internet Gambling Cafes... on top of all the illegal online and physical gambling here...

Will someone explain one positive aspect of Ohio's gambling movement, as it makes me want to be leaving Cleveland and Ohio faster than anything else that has festered to the surface here in the past decade!

Who is proud of this development for our state?

Mo money for Gilbert, Miller and Ratner?!?! Big deal!

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Can a state legally change

Can a state legally change its name? Change it to Grohio and start all over again. Then cannabis tourists from all over the world will begin making pilgrimmages to your heartland hempland.

The good news is that things seem so economically ravaged out your way, folks might just be ready for something startlingly new and different . . .


"folks might just be ready for something startlingly new"

"folks might just be ready for something startlingly new and different . . ."

The citizens of Northeast Ohio are definitely ready for something startlingly new and different . . .

But we are a Democratic region - helped put Obama over the top - and the Democratic leadership here has been very corrupt and is being forced out of office and hauled off to jail by the Feds (isn't that funny!)!

And, Democratic leadership here has not been supportive of legalizing medical marijuana so this proposal was an uphill battle with them.

With the Democratic leadership here failing, we are getting new leadership ... some Democrats I'm sure... some Republicans... we even have Green and Independent candidates being taken seriously all of the sudden.

I haven't seen any sign any "new leaders" even know how to spell cannabis but the national trend is for independents and Republicans to be for personal freedom, which includes freedom to grow and use marijuana... so things should improve for the state on that account as the old line Democrats are wiped-out.

The more turn-over the better here right now - people want change!

I look forward to learning more about the politics of cannabis commerce in more economically and politically progressive states in conflict... I'm especially enjoying watching the tea parties in Colorado

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