When I plant a garden each year, I am free to grow as much lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, squash, peas, beans, or potatoes as I am able to. Sometimes I grow extra and give some away. If I grow more squash than I can eat and my neighbour grows more beans, we can swap. That way we each have more variety of fresh vegetables on our table through the long, cold winter.
No one will stop me from growing 200, 500, or 1000 heads of garlic if I want to. It’s really no one’s business, certainly not the business of the state.
When marijuana becomes a legal plant in just over a year, if the Federal government adheres to its intended timeline, it will be legal to grow marijuana in my garden, along with all the other vegetables and herbs. But while I can grow two dozen basil plants if I want to make pesto, I will only be able to grow 4 marijuana plants. The proposed limit is 4 plants per household. Although I don’t use marijuana myself, I might want to grow it. I grow brussel sprouts, even though I think they taste like ear wax, because they are an interesting plant, climbing up to resemble an apartment building.
I can certainly see why there is going to be a law against selling garden grown marijuana, since the government will want to ensure that an orderly market takes hold in order to keep a safe supply, eliminate the black market and all its impacts, and maximize tax revenue. But in fundamental terms, as long as I don’t sell any of the marijuana I grow, it is not the business of the state what I do in my own garden. If I grow even a little bit and sell it, let the law come and get me, but if I grow a lot and just use it as compost fodder or perfume or rodent repellent, I say “back off government, get off my land”.
In practical terms, I can see why there needs to be some limit on home grown marijuana. If everyone could grow as much as they wanted, the market could be flooded and law enforcement would have a difficult time distinguishing between avid gardeners and those who are growing the stuff to sell it. To my mind, a 20 plant limit would accomplish that.
A lot of corporate money is being invested in the marijuana industry and it is looking for secure market access. There is a lot of money to be made. The corporate interests of this fast developing industry coalesces well with those of government officials who want to find a system for selling and taxing marijuana while monitoring and studying its use. Limiting home grown marijuana production is but one aspect of this growing corporate culture around marijuana.
What it will do, however, is subvert individual freedom, create a homogeneous product and, in the end could lead to more criminality than a more liberal approach to home production would.
My basic complaint about the 4 plant restriction is based on the perspective that the state should only restrict my behaviour if what I am doing causes harm to others or society as a whole. I can grow 20 varieties of tomatoes, some to eat fresh, some to preserve, some just to see what they look like, and it is not a concern of the state. Who would it hurt if I grew 20 varieties of marijuana for my own private purposes. If I sell that marijuana, or if I hand it out to students in the school yard, or to anyone under the legal age, that’s a different story.
But merely by growing it I am doing nothing to harm the social order, and I fail to see why the state feels a need to begin counting the plants in my garden.