During the recently concluded midterm elections, marijuana measures were on the ballot in nearly two dozen California localities seeking to permit recreational sales to commence in those jurisdictions. A dozen of those measures got voter approval, and an analysis of each locality reveals interesting factors that seemed to have played a role in determining the ballot outcome.
For example, most coastal cities are described by marijuana advocates as “cannabis deserts” because retail sales aren’t permitted there. It should be noted that these locations are populated by the affluent, and this demographic seems uncomfortable having retail stores in their backyard. However, Huntington Beach, which is located on this coastal belt, saw a voter measure approved that could result in 10 licenses for marijuana retail being issued there.
Santa Monica, also along the coast, approved a ballot measure as well. However, this will only permit two facilities to receive medical cannabis retail licenses, but that is better than having a total desert in the city.
Another notable factor that becomes apparent when one analyzes the poll results is that people seemed wary of voter measures that were largely spearheaded by industry actors. Opponents used this to tell voters that existing marijuana companies were looking to create monopolies or give themselves advantages over other players in the industry, and this created a bad taste in the mouth of voters.
Elliot Lewis, who was instrumental in organizing and funding the ballot measures in the South Bay area, admitted that the campaign should have focused a little more on negotiating and obtaining city support so that suspicions and animosity towards those campaigning for change was minimized. He added that they went “against headwinds,” and that made the chances of success very hard.
It should be noted that the movement to reform marijuana laws around the country has largely been premised on correcting the injustices inherent in the prohibitionist laws, such as the over-policing of certain social groups, including Blacks and Latinos. Any municipality that didn’t strongly push for equity and social justice in its campaign for expanding marijuana retail found it hard to convince voters that the need to allow more retail outlets wasn’t just to address the needs of those already owning cannabis businesses.
Framers of future marijuana reform voter measures therefore need to pick valuable lessons from the 2022 midterm outcomes in different California municipalities and position their campaign around the human aspects so that people see those ballot initiatives clearly spelling out matters of equity and social justice. These are matters that voters are passionate about, and they were the driving forces years back when several jurisdictions voted yes to ending prohibition and letting licensed companies such as Prime Harvest Inc. to operate within their boundaries.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Prime Harvest Inc. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/PRIME
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