A few short years ago businesses such as The Bud Farmacy in Needles, California were unimaginable. Laws regulating the growing of sale of marijuana, and related products, were often harsh. The penalties for violations could be extreme. Some laws, however, are almost comedic. This is especially true when viewed from the context of the modern era.
To put the restrictions of the 20th and 21st century in perspective consider American colonial era regulations. Hemp was a valuable agricultural product at the time as it was used for rope, medicines, and fabrics. The oil was used in lamps. The British government placed such a high value on the growing of hemp that full citizenship was offered to colonists that cultivated the crops on large acreage plots. In several American colonies fines were levied against farmers that did not grow hemp.
Established in 1974 by Tom Forçade, High Times was first published as a joke. Instead of sex the focus was marijuana as the single issue publication was a lampoon of Playboy magazine. Forcade was quite surprised by the response and established Underground Press Syndicate to begin publication of the magazine.
Advertisements for products like the BuzzBee Frisbee with “puff, puff, pass” pipe provided insight to a burgeoning marketplace. The magazines popularity, and scope of the advertisers, were fueled by states decriminalizing the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana between 1973 and 1978.
Not all states, however, viewed the increasing societal acceptance of marijuana as positive. In 1977, the state of Louisiana banned the sale of magazines that “encourage, advocate, or facilitate the illegal use of controlled dangerous substances.” This legislation was passed as a direct counter to High Times and similar publications. Though there was little resistance, passage was assured after an extensive report was published about the use of marijuana by adolescents. According to the study 1 in 9 high school seniors smoked marijuana every day.
in 1996 California became the first state to approve a medical marijuana program. Shortly after establishment of the Bureau of Cannabis Controls requirements for the transportation of cannabis were instituted. This include prohibitions against transport by unmanned vehicle, human powered vehicle, rail, aircraft or watercraft.
Nevada legalized recreational marijuana in 2017. But there were strict restrictions. As an example, marijuana product labeling “must be printed in at least 8-point font and may not be in italics,” according to the state regulation on packaging. A dispensary may only use “clean fonts” such as sans serif in their logo or signage.
In 2014 Washington DC legalized the recreational use of marijuana. But there were a lengthy list of restrictions in the legislation. One of the most intriguing links marijuana to auto sales. “A registration application for a cultivation center or dispensary shall not be approved for any outlet, property, establishment, or business that sells motor vehicle gasoline or that holds a Motor Vehicle Sales, Service, and Repair endorsement.” What makes this legislation particularly odd is that beer is legally sold in service stations.
There is often a fine line between legal and illegal. When it comes to cannabis that fine line is often blurred.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America