The big question now is: In legalizing marijuana, how should we implement the details?
This is where it gets complicated. There are so many debates over how much home cultivation should be allowed, which medical conditions should be able to use it, what's the best consumption methods for the average user? And who has the ultimate control over the regulations -- the state or the local municipalities?
As the pot industry evolves, more and more groups are finding that they've reached their personal stopping point and are upset with those who have different ideas. Home cultivators, medical patients, recreational legalization supporters -- can't we all just get along?
There are people who are upset that legalization in any form means taxes and government regulations. These guys have been privately cultivating for years, decades even. And while they'd be happy to not risk jail time for their endeavors, they are not interested in the hassles, responsibilities and costs associated with legalization.
Some strong medical marijuana supporters believe that recreational use diminishes the medicinal value of the plant. They are fearful that recreational pot creates an image that is too focused on "partying" or just "getting high." They are afraid that the true medicinal value of the plant will be lost in the shuffle and that patients' rights will be diminished.
Anyone who has seen Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN "Weed" series would agree that it's impossible to deny there are legitimate medicinal benefits to marijuana. While I'm not a patient, I consume cannabis for many different reasons and sometimes it is just to relax and have a few laughs with my friends. That's perfectly OK.
Then there are grassroots individuals who believe that any hint of "corporate marijuana" is a bad thing. And others who believe that the "hippie stoner" image is terrible.
The marijuana industry is constantly debating the appropriate language to use. Is it "marijuana" or "cannabis"? Do you "use" it or "consume" it? Are you "getting high" or are you "medicating"?
There's no denying that language matters -- but it depends on who we are speaking to.
There's a time and place for everything. I have asked friends if they wanted to go "smoke some weed." But when speaking with a legislator, I almost always talk about "consuming cannabis." One's not better or worse. They just have different audiences. In the same way that if I'm walking into a potential investor's office, I'm going to be wearing a business suit but when I'm hanging out at home it's more likely to be jeans and a T-shirt.
Ultimately, in a multibillion dollar industry, there is room for all of us: the casual consumer, the medical patient, the wellness market, etc.
But if those of us who are active with the marijuana movement don't learn to work together, we will be our own worst enemy. Let's not make it harder on ourselves with infighting.
We need to stop arguing with each other. We need to stop campaigning for legislative measures that attempt to benefit only certain types of users. We also need to stop campaigning for a lack of regulation under the guise of "protecting patients." Let's be honest about our intentions. If the concern is the potentially prohibitive cost of licensing and regulation, then let's have that discussion.
We have enough opponents already, it's time we come together. Those of us who are new need to be respectful of those who have put in the work before us. Those of us who have been championing marijuana usage for decades need to be willing to accept help from the well-intentioned newcomers.
Let's not complicate the issue for supporters, consumers and legislators. Let's do marijuana legalization right; it's time to unite in our cause.