Shawn DeNae Eddy Wagenseller
Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
The Bellingham Budfest organizers asked me to close out the festival with a speech from the main stage at this year’s revived summer celebration of cannabis near the Canadian border. Just before I went on stage, they asked if I could stretch out my talk from 5 to 15 minutes to buy them time to prepare for the next band. Sure! I’ve got a plethora of stories and opinions to share about my topic: State legalized cannabis is a privilege that needs nurtured and protected.
The recent SCOTUS decision to take away what most thought of as a woman’s right to choose when to expand her family has rocked the foundation of what I believed was a right. Roe v. Wade was merely a privilege granted to women in a sloppy, decades-old court decision.
Women’s rights over our own bodies have slid to the level of entitlements granted state by state, like our cannabis laws, creating a patchwork of varying regulations that govern how we live and work. I am a strong proponent of states’ rights having the upper hand on how their residents are governed.
It is a choice that we live in Washington state and not in South Dakota, my home state. It was Washington’s lackadaisical stance toward cannabis as early as the late 1980s that drew us here after our marijuana bust in 1987. The West Coast states recognized decades ago that there are bigger fish to fry than convicting stoners.
Yet, growing, processing and using cannabis is not a “right” we can count on. There are opponents still in power that literally hate the fact cannabis was made legal by an initiative of the people in our state. The federal threat looms heavier on my mind, especially now that we have seen how the new SCOTUS is responding to other accepted “rights.”
Think about it: We are currently debating such fundamentally time-honored topics like separation of church and state, the ability to love and marry whomever you wish without judgement or prosecution, voter’s rights, the allowed use of contraceptives, preserving social security for our aging population, civil rights and the still-to-pass Equal Rights Amendment, all in addition to the overturning of Roe. And all more vital topics for our national government to protect than federal cannabis legalization.
Cannabis is so far below the importance of the other front-page issues that I suspect I will not see it within my lifetime. It feels like the likelihood of legalizing cannabis on a federal level within the next few administrations is disappearing like a bong rip in the wind.
Getting people out of jail for non-violent marijuana charges, defining the intent of the 2018 Farm Bill to address hemp cannabinoid production vs. industrial hemp production and improving our state’s cannabis laws and regulations so our small, craft farm can thrive for generations to come is where I’m focused.
I’m uncertain if this full message landed in the minds of the sun- and cannabis-baked crowd at this summer’s festival but I hope I planted the seed that we must not assume state legal cannabis is a right written in stone. Because it’s not.