A Mistaken Analogy


I would like to clear up a false analogy. Some who favor commercial cannabis compare its restriction to prohibition. By constitutional amendment, Prohibition banned making, importing, transporting, and selling alcoholic beverages from 1920-33. No one could legally make or purchase alcoholic beverages, except wines made for sacramental use by rabbis and churches.

Federal law did not prohibit personal ownership or consumption of alcohol, though some states banned possession. Some “dry” towns and counties still prohibit sales of alcoholic beverages.

Distilling alcohol remains illegal in the U.S. unless one has either a TTB “distilled spirits permit” or a “federal fuel alcohol permit.” It doesn’t matter if the alcohol is for personal use only and not for sale. Current federal law sets specified quantity limits for the production of beer or wine for personal use only. Federal, state and local governments tightly regulate, license and tax beer or wine that is made to be offered for sale.


The true analogy: growing one’s legal six marijuana plants is analogous to producing the legally allowed amount of wine or beer for personal use. A legal right to grow six marijuana plants for recreational or medical use and the right to buy where sales are legal roughly parallel current laws concerning the production and purchasing of wine or beer for personal use. You may produce a limited quantity for personal use, and you can buy it where legally available.

Those who oppose commercial cannabis in Plumas County are not working toward another Prohibition; that false analogy obscures rather than clarifies the issues. California law grants the right for the cultivation of six plants for personal recreational or medical use; that right stands, as does the right to make a legally limited amount of beer or wine for personal use. Restriction is not prohibition.

2 comments on “A Mistaken Analogy

  1. Ken Donnell says:

    Zoning choices (restriction of commercial activities regarding land use) is a normal function of local governments in California. Overall, I agree that zoning is a good thing. We need to protect neighborhoods from disruptive business activities, and we need to protect commercial and agricultural zones from unreasonable complaints by neighbors who choose to live within or nearby such commercial-agricultural zones. Such a restrictive land use draft ordinance was the final result of the Cannabis Working Group, which would require specific zoning, and a Special Use Permit (SUP) in order to operate a commercial cannabis business in Plumas County. Compared to most other business-commercial activities around Plumas county, the need for both approved zoning and an SUP would qualify as “highly restrictive”. But, a complete ban for any commercial cannabis activity within Plumas County , as per the current Moratorium, is prohibitive in that there are no exceptions to this ban. Simply stated, all commercial cannabis business in Plumas County are prohibited, and the Moratorium represents prohibition according to the true definition of the word. Furthermore, it is my opinion that anyone who attempts to equate the personal cultivation of 6 plants with commercial cannabis businesses, is making a disturbing distortion of the truth.

    1. Sharon Covington says:

      Ken, I appreciate your attempts at discussion with civility; it is my intention, too, that we maintain and even grow relationships in the midst of differing positions on the complex issue of commercial cannabis activities.

      No one in CCG has made the equation you reference, Ken. Six plants for personal or medical use is legal and uncontested. That issue has nothing to do with the topic of my editorial; I was simply stating that we are not talking of another Prohibition, but rather the restriction better understood as parallel or analogous to current laws regulating making beer or wine for personal use. That is the point: restriction is not another Prohibition.

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