Does Home Grow Makes Sense for Medical Cannabis Patients?
Some states with legal marijuana allow residents to grow a certain amount at home. That makes sense where recreational marijuana is legal. Growing your own pot is no different than making your own beer. But medical consumption is another matter. Does home grow make sense for medical cannabis patients?
Utah is one of the states where medical cannabis is legal but growing at home is not. All medical cannabis produced in the state must be grown by state-licensed cultivators. All retail sales must occur through licensed pharmacies, like dispensary Beehive Farmacy.
The logic here is easy to understand. Utah regulators want to maintain the highest possible standards of quality, safety, and purity. After all, they are dealing with a medical product.
Medical Products and Testing
Both plant material and manufactured medical cannabis products undergo rigorous testing in the Beehive State. Anything that doesn’t pass muster doesn’t make it to market. Again, it makes sense when you are talking about medicine. Every other prescription medication on the market is held to equally high standards. Why would medical cannabis be any different?
Not allowing home grow in Utah makes sense. But what about a state with both recreational and medical use? Home grow for recreational consumption is reasonable. It is also reasonable for medical use if state regulators don’t want to insist that patients get the highest quality possible. But therein lies the conundrum.
Medical cannabis is supposed to serve a particular purpose somehow related to alleviating the symptoms of a qualifying condition. It might help relieve chronic pain or reduce the stress associated with PTSD. But as a medicine, medical cannabis is only as good as its quality.
Freedom Is More Important
Those who take the position that home grow should be legal for medical cannabis users tend to believe that freedom is more important than government-mandated quality control. They make a good point. People should ultimately have control over all their medical decisions. If they want to grow their own medical cannabis and take the risk of getting a lower quality plant, that should be their decision to make.
On the other hand, home grow presents a big problem for state governments in terms of tax revenues. Truth be told, that could be the real issue here. States reap a windfall in tax revenues by approving both medical and recreational cannabis. Giving the green light to home grow reduces tax revenues with every plant that isn’t produced by a licensed cultivator.
Home Grow and the Illicit Market
If you are getting the impression that this post is trying to ride the middle ground without taking a stand, here is one last thing to consider: opening the floodgates to home grow could make a real dent on the illicit market. Think about it.
In states where the illicit market thrives, price is the crucial factor. Consumers can buy illicit cannabis cheaper than state-legal cannabis. A medical cannabis patient already struggling to pay his bills would rather buy cheaper pot on the street than a more expensive product at a cannabis dispensary. But if he could grow his own cannabis, affordability would no longer be an issue.
Then again, giving the go-ahead to home grow could turn average cannabis users into local dealers. Suddenly you have a bigger problem than you had before.
Weighing all the factors makes it clear that there is no easy answer. Banning home grow for medical cannabis patients makes sense to some degree. But so does allowing it. States just need to make a choice and take their chances.