In the Canna-Industry, Out the Canna-Closet

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I just recently read about the Canna-Closet in an Op-Ed in The Hemp Connoisseur. The Canna-Closet is chock full of good people who keep their consumption on the DL for social, political or economic reasons. You might think that because recreational marijuana sales are legal in Colorado that there would be fewer people in the Canna-Closet here but you would be dead wrong.

In fact, the legal gray area in our square state has made the Canna-Closet a bigger and bigger club. Yes, recreational and medical sales are legal so there is more access here. But public consumption remains illegal, amendment 64 specifically upheld employer’s rights to maintain zero-tolerance drug policies, random urine testing remains common, you can still lose child custody or probation by testing positive for THC, you can even be fired for  consuming for medical reasons off the clock even if it doesn’t affect your job performance. (See Brandon Coats v. Dish Network)

This amounts to the state removing the consequences for producing, processing, transporting, selling, buying and possessing marijuana without removing the traditional consequences of consuming it. This half-measure results in a crowded Canna-Closet of Coloradans; decent people who want to consume but don’t want to lose their job, children or reputation.

The obvious exception is the Cannabis Industry. Personally, I knew I was “out” last year when I sat down at a bar after a long day on harvest crew and the guy next to me turned and said, “You reek…but like, in a good way”. I smiled and thanked him because I was well within my right to reek of weed with my state issued employee badge. I’ve been solidly “out” ever since, to hell with the stigma. I will do my part to advance Cannabis industry and science.

Sadly, not everyone in the industry is “out” like I am. Some are trying to capitalize on the growing industry without officially associating themselves with the Schedule I plant. I’m not alone in thinking you simply can’t have it both ways. It amounts to a slap in the face to our forebears: the marijuana activists who risked so much more to get us where we are today and the many who are still paying the price with prison sentences and felonies. If you’re all in, you’ll be welcome in the sandbox.

The sheer magnitude of the Canna-Closet just proves that there is still work to be done. There should be national amnesty for non-violent drug offenders. No one should lose their children, bank account, insurance or livelihood for choosing to consume a drug. People with addiction problems should receive treatment instead of harsh sentences. Random urine testing should end and should be replaced with mouth swabs. People should be able to smoke a joint with coworkers after a long day, just like beer.

In Colorado, we’ve learned that you can’t just legalize marijuana without ending the other aspects of the war on drugs. The whole industry must stand together, all in, to end prohibition and regain the god-given right to choose what to put in our bodies.

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