Is a "Grow Your Own" Marijuana Policy Better Than Legalization?

Mark Kleiman has an interesting post observing the rapidly evolving political climate surrounding marijuana policy reform. He points to recent polling data and observes correctly that we're entering new territory in terms of public attitudes and political opportunities.

Of course, this is a Mark Kleiman post, so there's guaranteed to be something in there that I can't quite wrap my head around. Kleiman condemns the alcohol model, which he says "would provide a strong incentive for the marketing effort to aim at creating and maintaining addiction." He estimates that rates of marijuana addiction would double if it were sold like alcohol, so he proposes this instead:

So I continue to favor a "grow your own" policy, under which it would be legal to grow, possess, and use cannabis and to give it away, but illegal to sell it. Of course there would be sales, and law enforcement agencies would properly mostly ignore those sales. But there wouldn't be billboards.

That beautifully-crafted policy has only two major defects that I'm aware of: it wouldn't create tax revenue, and no one but me supports it…

Well, I'd favor this over our current policy without hesitation, but is Kleiman serious that he only sees two significant flaws in his plan? What about the fact that marijuana would still be sold by criminals? It's the biggest cash crop in America and its distribution (absent for medical use in some states) occurs exclusively on the black market. Even under a "grow your own" model, marijuana entrepreneurs will proliferate. And when their door gets smashed down in the middle of the night, they still won’t know if it's an armed robbery or the DEA. People will still get shot and killed over an otherwise completely non-lethal drug.

Can anything be done about that, Mark?
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Maybe if we more strictly

Maybe if we more strictly regulate the advertising of alcohol (and cannabis and every other drug which would be legal in the future) we could address the issue without having to forbid the wholesaling of any drug. How is it that tobacco advertising can be so strictly regulated (something which has had great success in reducing use), but alcohol ads are only required to say "drink responsibly" and nothing else?

Also, why do ads for pharmaceutical drugs tell you a long list of every possible side effect, a lot of which are pretty nasty, but alcohol ads can present their product however they want?

I support the Porn Shop/Strip Club model

In the Netherlands, marijuana sales is greatly outpaced by the tobacco and alcohol consumption yet people are free to buy marijuana whenever they wish. Why? They don't market marijuana on billboards like "Joe Camel" cigarettes and they locate marijuana shops in industrial areas of town away from the "My Blue Heaven" neighborhoods of clean living.

I think we will move a lot faster with our paranoid confused culture by not providing voters with just two choices: unrestricted sales (alcohol model) or total prohibition of the market (the current model).

something i hadn't thought of

is it illegal to put up a billboard advertising a porno movie, with explicit images? I know it's a little off topic, but i'm just asking in case anyone knows.

I'm Not a Lawyer

I can't say I'm an expert in this, but from what I hear on TV on shows with highly educated people discussing matters like this, there is a concept called something like "community sensibilities," or "community standards."

Basically, it's left up to each community to decide what is offensive and what isn't.

growing your own

I like to eat nice fresh tomatoes and each year I grow some. If I could legally grow my own cannabis, I would have a yearly crop and after harvest, I would have a year's supply. I would not be involved in some black market, I would know what I was ingesting, I could try different stains to find the one I like best, etc. etc.

In today's world I can legally produce 100 gallons of wine per year for my own consumption and in past years I have often produced 30 to 50 gallons. Nobody has ever broken in to steal my wine even though some people have expressed their appreciation for it. It's rather weird that cannabis, being far more benign than alcohol gets all of this attention, even though I can be an alcoholic jerk, drink 3 or more bottles of wine per night, beat up the wife and kids, drive drunk, lose my job, get into a fight at the bar and nobody pays much attention.

It seems that Mexico is having a large problem with it's war on drugs. Duh. As I understand it much of the money involved is related to the sale of cannabis.

A lot of millions of Americans use cannabis and almost all responsibly, having almost zero negative effects along with some number of positive effects (i.e. medical). Let me just say: END THE DRUG WAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Talk about a no-brainer. Grow your own.

the truth

The war on drugs, People hear that and get scared and they have a right to be I mean with a name like WAR on drugs I don’t blame them, the concept of a war scares people and that’s what Ronald Reagan wanted when he so wittingly named his little fight which hasn’t stopped anything. I don’t completely discredit the DEA and other law enforcements for cracking down drug trafficking and distribution, but they should stick to fighting crack cocaine and heroin the real killers not marijuana which has little harmful affects on the social users like my self. I have been using marijuana for about 13 years now and the only thing it has had an adverse affect on is my wallet because it cost so damn much. Especially in Alaska where I live even though it is completely worth it because it is some pretty potent stuff and a little goes a long way. But it is some what legal up here I can have up to 3 ounces of “unprocessed” marijuana and grow a certain amount but the second you put it in a baggie then it’s a misdemeanor and a day in court. That and the national law makes it so the DEA can put me away for a long time with out warning.
But back to my main point if they were to legalize marijuana however they do it should be nation wide that way I can grow completely legally and not worry about the DEA busting down my door in the middle of the night which has happened to a close friend over 5 plants which were for personal use only and he is serving a 10 year sentence for it and I miss him and his kick ass product

An alcohol model for the marijuana market is a dream

Legal or illegal, marijuana will never match demand for alcohol simply because the public prefers the "liquid courage" effects of alcohol, which is why alcohol prohibition did not last long. If anything, I believe marijuana use will drop after legalization because it will take away its thrilling "outlaw" image and successfully make it boring. For example, how many kids would have tried salvia divinorum (sp?) recently if legislators and the media had not given it free marketing and labeled it the "new marijuana" and started crafting bills to make it illegal?

Salvia is not worth themoney!

I used salvia when it was legal. I am not missing anything, since I can't buy it again. I tended to react badly after taking a dose! It was not the most fun I ever had! I would rather have the right to smoke cannabis than to drink alcohol, any day. I hate alcohol, for the most part! Hey, maybe we would actually see a drop in drinking! You never know!

Homebrew Beer / Homegrown Pot

I've grown increasingly skeptical of the "regulate and tax just like alcohol and tobacco" model for marijuana legalization. Keep in mind the huge federal gov't bureaucracies and law enforcement agencies that manage those substances (ATF, FDA) and then there's the varying state/local laws that have created a deluge of perverse alcohol consumption laws (i.e. no sales on Sunday, beer but no booze, gov't owned abc stores, etc) and high taxes on cigarettes have created a new cash cow for organized crime. A pack of smokes in NYC is close to $8, 250 miles away in Virginia they're $2.50 - you don't need to be a hedge fund manager to see the potential for profit.

Grow for personal use or to give away - just like homebrewed beer or wine making. Marijuana would become almost worthless overnight


There is something every cannabis reform sympathizer can do:


Mark every bill that passes by you with something to indicate your support for cannabis law reform. Soon enough they will be everywhere in the hands of prohitionists- and they will see what a market they are missing.




Grow your own for all jobs all products all economies

Grow your own for food,clothing,shelter,fuel,medicine,faith and grow it all organically. Grow the hugest most potent plants you can grow for everything everyone needs. First the war mongers and their wars must be physically removed from power over other people . The war/war against drugs is proof of terrorist plunderers fraudulent occupation

Yeah right! We can also make our own clothes, soap, and paper.

We can all live on our own self-reliant islands. Please lets get back to reality-based solutions people!



It can be both to a certain extent

You can grow your own and not pay taxes, and at the same time distribute it among friends, plus, we can tax industrial growers and individual sales in coffeshops. All we have to do is allow people to grow a large amount of plants without having to pay taxes on it; like twenty plants. Most people, in the end, will buy it from the coffeshops anyway because it is time consuming and not necessarily cheap to grow your own. I mean, you could just throw seeds on the ground, but you'll probably never end up with the level of quality that an expert grower, who invests a lot on equipment, would end up with; so if you want to smoke high quality stuff, you'll have to go buy it at a coffeshop. Still, there would be a significant amount of people out there growing (twenty plants or less) and selling to friends and stuff, so the price would be kept low. We can have the best of both worlds; the freedom to grow your own and distribute it among friends, plus high quality weed at a relatively affordable price at a coffeshop (while at the same time a lot of tax revenues for the state).

I like that idea

That is something I could fully support.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Health implications

A legal market would enable and encourage a safer product. For smokers: more filtration. For all users: more reliable knowledge of cannabinoid levels. Reliable levels is essential for cannabis food products to be approved, and I think those will ultimately be the most common delivery mechanism.

I don't understand why MMJ/legalization campaigns do not explicitly recommend vaporization/MJ foods, as smoking puts the prohibs in a fit and presents the most potential for health risks.

cannabinoid levels on the labels

cannabinoid levels on the labels is something I would love to see. I've heard that the ratio of thc to other cannabinoids is what determines whether a certain bud gives people paranoia or not (of course, that also depends on the person and the environment, but i'm sure that chemical composition must matter a lot too). Plus, imagine, you could know what kind of high you were gonna get just by looking at the label; and with the amazing variety of different buds, hashes, keefs, eadibles, etc, that exist, it would be extremely convenient (and fun) to be able to choose your purchase by looking at the label.

No Tax Revenue? No Profits?

Mark Kleinman’s claim that no tax revenue can ever come from cannabis legalization means he hasn’t paid much attention to the MSNBC documentary that featured an Oakland, CA, medical marijuana dispensary which pays $900,000 in sales and income tax to the state and federal government every year.

Hemp (remember that prohibited plant?) can still be grown like cotton ( = jobs, profits, taxes), but with less impact on the environment.  Pot and hash prices will drop and stabilize to reflect the production and retail costs and more moderate profit margins of a true commodity, just like retail prices in the Netherlands.

Under legalization, growing marijuana indoors may be preferred in order to protect the plants from thieves, kids, critters and creeps.  Further offsetting a homegrown product, any commercial grower can attest to the problems of taking care of indoor plants.  The inconveniences are enough to send anyone to the corner convenience store for a flip-top pack of Panama Red, albeit at a price that doesn’t equal that of gold bullion.


Want to get marijuana legalized? you have to pay Uncle Sam

Now is prime time to legalize marijuana with the economy and states going into large budget deficits.

Uncle Scam is a whore and wants as much of your money...

Uncle Scam is a lecherous whore and wants as much of your money... as it's illegal mandates can steal!

Uncle Scam is a criminal whore and doesn't deserve to tax marijuana for profit!

Why would you tax and regulate cannabis... I brew my own beer (belgian white) without penalties or sin taxes. There's another lesson in gov't stupidity in the history of home brew prohibition.... which didn't end until decades after the end of alcohol prohibition.

The only legal tax, which is highly debatable, would be the standard state sales tax if you purchase instead of grew your own. I'm a fan of overgrowing the gov't personally...!

Crime exists in everything that humans and gov't does... and that will never change... because crime does pay... handsomely in fact... it's why we have guns to protect ourselves... and raised flower beds to dispose of the dead criminals (not recommended if you have dogs unless you use lime first)!

Freedom is Free, somtimes it even cost lives.

The bottom line is, we should be able to do what ever we like, as long as it doesn't effect the rights/safety of others.

Carrying a concealed pistol should not be a crime, unless you use it in an illegal way, but yet states make you pass through a myriad of paper work hurdles and then PAY for the right to protect yourself. I think all gun owners know not to just ramdomly fire off rounds off while spinning in a circle!

Smoking marijuana should not be a crime, unless your smoking it in a public venue where smoking is prohited. I think all us tokers can agree not to smoke on a public bus or in a public library.

Growing marijuana should not be illegal, unless your using your whole house and forcing your family to sleep in the bathroom or your HPS/MH lights are wired unsafely. Even if MJ become totally legal, I could not see growing more than 20-30 plant in my home. Of course, commercial growers will sprout up and use light industrial or rural farms to grow mass quantities, but not quantities that will superceed commercial demand.

Which brings me here, selling marijuana shouldn't be illegal, unless your selling on a street like its had here in the city of Detroit. Living here in Metro-Detroit I can always get weed, ALWAYS! Only to get it, on rare occasions, I must drive into the improvished, crime ridden streets of innercity Detroit with my pistol and money to procure what helps my broken back. I buy it off kids in the street, who have very few outlets for legit jobs.

The only dangerous part about marijuana is how I have to buy it!

To me, the second amendment is the most important amendment, next to the freedom of speech. Slowly all our rights are being eroded by one political interest group or another. My hippie friends give me alot of shit for carrying a pistol, they say,"You don't need that gun, nobody should be walking around with a gun", or many favor more restriction on firearms ownership.

My conservative friends don't bat an eye at my pistol carrying habit, but many do not know that I smoke pot. Some do smoke pot, but most do not. For them, pot is an illegal drug and it should stay this way, but take away the Scotch and now we're talking war.

Far too often people overstep their bounds and impose their own morale code upon others.

I don't expect everyone to own a gun or smoke marijuana, but I expect RESPECT from everyone, as my choices do not harm their life, maybe just their percieved way of life. Anyone who attempts to destroy my conviction or my way of operating my personal life is the enemy, pure and simple.

I hear people talking all the time, they sit and complain. I say stand up and complain. Get out of your comfort zone and do more for what you believe is right. You may be black balled, jailed, ridiculed, but in the eyes of fellow fighters you will be respected because all fighters know this:


David S.

"A government is the most dangerous threat to man's rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims."
Ayn Rand

Excellent post

To me, it is obvious that freedom is the best answer, regardless the question. Until one's behavior commits fraud, or physical injury to another or another's property, it is no one else's business.

Anyone is free to believe that vices are sins, but holding that belief does not give one the right to force others to conform to that belief. Under our Constitution (the SUPREME law of the land) forcing everyone to conform to one person's (or even many groups' shared) moral beliefs is illegal, whether one tries to enforce it one-on-one, or attempts to use government and unconstitutional law to enforce it. Besides, "rigid, controlled societies are not as successful as loose, live-and-let-live societies" (quoting a friend).

There must be something twisted, wrong, in the brains of those who believe it is wise or, even worse, necessary, to restrict/ban personal/consenting, peaceful behaviors, of which they disapprove. One is free to abstain from vices one finds objectionable, but not free to force others to do so, too.

After numerous edits, I finally think I have the wording correct. Welp it took once more.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Respectful Request to L.E.A.P.:

We the people respectfully request that Law Enforcement Against Prohibition be provided with the tools and resources to remove all unconstitutional war monger/prohibitionists fraudulent terror and plunder based occupation. Thank you for your service and kindness.

Unfortunately, Freedom & Equality can't flourish...

Unfortunately, Freedom & Equality can't flourish... in poisoned soil!

Soil poisoned by ignorance, lies, and the foul deeds... of foul people!

I would submit that the foul people I speak of are antagonistic and cancerous to a egalitarian society.

David S. above has it right. If your gonna get fucked... do it standing up... in rebellion.

Cancer spreads and never goes away on it's own... it must be eradicated... or it eventually kills you!

DEA to end raids in Cali

The above link is a story from MSNBC, saying that the DEA will terminate actions against those who use marijuana for legalized medical reasons.

This is just one step among many. In April of 2001, I was in a terrible car wreck, I almost died. Today I can walk, I even jog!, and do most of what I done before the accident. I am very lucky, but I was perscribed Oxycontin, Vicodin ES, Flexiril and Xanax. I was taking all this poison for over two years, at this time oxycontin was new, and I wasn't made aware of its highly addictive nature. These years were ones of a dreamy-cloudiness, addiction, and depression. I just stop going to my doctors, therefor I didn't get refills, I rationed my addictive pain pills. It was very trying, I stopped using all these meds on my own, no heroine style detox. It was just logic, discipline, and God's help in the form of mother nature's marijuana.

Marijuana assisted in reducing the stress and cravings for the opiate pain relievers. Now I only take Vicodin when I really, really need it. I smoke marijuana 3-4 a week depending on my mood and need for pain relief.

I am just tired of being told by other what's best for me, I'm 31 years old, have a masters degree, a decent business. I can figure it out for myself. I don't need a Clinton, Bush, or Obama to "guide" me. I am not a sheeple, and I am definatley not a lamb for the slaughter.

David S.

I Agree With Scott

I agree with Scott's, and others', assessment that total legalization of marijuana needs to take place.

People who grow it on their own will not only face it being yanked out of their yards (by non-green-thumb-types), if they grow outdoors, but the violent drug cartels will be jealous and think their business is being infringed on, and they will terrorize at the level, and beyond, what the DEA currently does.

Total legalization will seriously level the "playing field" and, I believe, cause such utter chaos in the drug cartels they will have to rethink their approach, and I believe they will (at least with regard to marijuana) go legit and conform to the regulations put in place (as long as they are not onerous).

Most likely this will also cause a fracture of sorts within the cartels as they do their best to not get caught dealing the hard drugs. They will separate their marijuana business from their coke/heroin/meth business.

does it matter

Does marijuana need to be legalized? I received a harsher punishment for driving while drunk. I had to spend over 15hrs in a cell, and spend over $3000 in fines. The couple of times i have been busted for marijuana total less than 2 hrs of jail time, no fines. I get marijuana easier now than I would if it were legal.

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