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Whenever you get people disagreeing over an issue that has moral and ethical implications, you are treading on thin ice. Topics like pot legalization are fraught with potential dangers that could hurt arguments on both sides of the debate. One of those dangers is inconsistency. It is something the legalized pot movement is currently grappling with.

A perfect example of that inconsistency is illustrated in the differences some legal pot advocates see in federal and state law. On the one hand, they feel states should be allowed to regulate cannabis as they see fit despite federal regulation. On the other hand, they do not feel local municipalities should have the right to regulate despite state law.

The big, unanswerable question is this: who should have the final say in cannabis regulation? Should it be Washington, or should it be the states? Should local municipalities and residents have any input?

Lawsuits over Local Laws

The fight over local control has affected multiple states. In California, many local municipalities have not given the okay for cannabis dispensaries despite the Golden State being one of the most liberal in its cannabis regulation. There have been multiple lawsuits over the years.

In Massachusetts, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court recently settled a case that has been ongoing for some time. They ruled in favor of a local town and its ban on recreational cannabis dispensaries within its borders.

Plaintiffs in the suit alleged that the town violated its own rules in banning dispensaries. A local court, appeals court, and the Supreme Traditional Court all sided with the town. They ruled that the town enacted a legal ban that complies with local laws.

What’s Good for the States…

In so many of these lawsuits, local municipalities take the position that what is good for the state is good for them. In other words, they should have the right to regulate cannabis at the local level the same way states should have the right to regulate it at the state level.

How interesting that cannabis proponents want the federal government to back off and let the states do what they want. At the same time, they do not want to afford the same regulatory freedom to local municipalities. They want local governments to acquiesce to state regulations.

Consistency demands that states claiming the right to regulate cannabis should also recognize the same right among local municipalities. States denying the same regulatory rights among local governments are no different than a federal government that continues to maintain marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Not All States Are Conflicted

It should be noted that not all states with medical and recreational cannabis programs are seeing conflicts between state and local leaders. In Utah for example, they run a tightly regulated program that works at every level of government.

The state has licensed just over a dozen local medical cannabis pharmacies. Provo’s Deseret Wellness is one of them. A limited number of growers and processors also operate in the state. Though access is a problem from a practical standpoint, medical cannabis is widely accepted throughout the Beehive State. Local municipalities and state regulators are not at odds with one another.

Consistency is not as much of a problem among cannabis proponents in Utah. Likewise for other states in which everyone seems to be on the same page. But in states like California and Massachusetts, lawsuits against local municipalities are common. The lawsuits present a consistency problem among cannabis proponents – a problem that is becoming all too apparent. A lack of consistency is hurting their cause more than they know.