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Small Towns Push Back Against Cannabis Legalization Laws

By Roger Malespin photo/istock/Bill Chizek

In light of all the recent strides made by the legalization movement across the country, we tend to focus on the big stories; States passing medical and/or recreational use, big name politicians throwing their money and support behind cannabis research, and lawmakers pushing increasingly bold cannabis reform bills through congress. The opposition is still strong, however, and one of the ways we have overlooked is the way small towns fight back against state laws. These battles do not get a fraction of the attention as other stories on a national level, but to the businesses in those areas they are a real and persistent threat.

One example is in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where the group Klamath Strong is fighting to overturn the ban on recreational marijuana in that city. Despite the fact that Oregon state law allows adults 21 and over to possess personal amounts of marijuana, Klamath Falls, and many other towns across the nation, have prohibited their sale within their jurisdiction. There are many nuances to towns circumventing state legalization laws, but it happens most often because those laws are passed with provisions for towns to ban sales in their limits.  

Klamath Strong have been the victim of a vitriolic campaign of personal attacks and misinformation by the opposition. TV spots and editorials in the local papers are just two of the ways the opposition has attacked, filled with the misinformation and outright lies about cannabis that have long been used in the United States. Yet they are undeterred, knowing that what they are trying to do is for the benefit of their community.  

Another town with a similar problem is Wilmington, Vermont. While recreational and CBD shops are legal there, the businesses have fought a constant battle with local opposition and must remain active and vigilant against them. Since recreational use was made legal as of July 1st, dozens of businesses and supporters flooded the town hall after Cindy Hayford, coordinator of the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, suggested that the town look into prohibiting the sale of marijuana. She worries that having a "head shop" in the community would send the wrong message to kids. 

The opposition at the Wilmington meeting are made up of the usual fare of local lawmakers and law enforcement, who have a financial and ideological stake in the fight. It seems most residents at the meeting were in favor of legalization, with the working class folks well aware of the illegal drug problems, opioid addictions, and various medical conditions that CBD oils have proven to help. Some of them include:

Bette Crawford, of West Dover, said CBD oil has helped with her breathing and mobility after she suffered from lung cancer for about 12 years.

Stephanie Zumbruski said her young daughter would probably be failing her classes if she had not used cannabis products. 

Mark Hardy, of Wilmington, said CBD oils have helped manage his pain after a hiking accident about a year ago and they do not get him high or bring about side effects like other drugs.

Shawn Vandal, of Wilmington, received applause after he said CBD oils helped him come off opiates and deal with bipolar disorder.  

These are just a few of the people who gave real life testimony on the benefits of cannabis, which are a lot stronger than outdated lies and misinformation that, thankfully, seem to be having an ever decreasing effect on public opinion. We should thank everyone involved in educating the public about CBD and giving those who have experienced its benefits a voice because they are the biggest ally legalization has at these town hall meetings.