INTERVIEW: NORML Founder Keith Stroup on the Legality of Home Grows

Shane McCormick at interviews NORML founder, Keith Stroup to discuss home grows. Let’s listen in.

Shane McCormick: Do you do support home grow?

Keith Stroup: Yes. In fact, NORML has always thought that the right to cultivate your own marijuana is a basic part of our right to get marijuana legal and the reason it’s basic. If you have the right to grow marijuana, then if the industry that develops in a particular state fails to be responsive to the needs of the consumer, then the hell with it, you don’t buy their marijuana, you just grow your own.

Now we both know, it’s not so simple to grow high-quality marijuana. It requires a lot more than just dropping a few seeds in the ground and watering it occasionally. So most of us are probably not going to grow marijuana. Most of us don’t grow our own vegetables; obviously a lot of people have gardens and my wife has a garden, and we grow some of ours, but we still buy most of our vegetables from the store. I think marijuana smokers will be the same way so long as the marijuana that they provide us is high quality, safe, convenient and affordable.

I think probably 98 percent of the population of the smokers would rather go buy it from a convenience store down the street. If in some state, because they limited the number of retail outlets, and therefore they got a monopoly, and they want to jack the price up too high and then we have some leverage we’ll just grow our own. Yes, at NORML we think personal cultivation is terribly important. The first nine states that legalized marijuana, only Washington state does not allow personal cultivation, and even in Washington, there are major efforts underway to amend that law so that they will within a few months hopefully have the right to grow their own in Washington as well.

Shane McCormick: I read a news report that New Jersey did not support home grow either?

Keith Stroup: New Jersey for the moment, doesn’t have legal marijuana, they’re working on it and fortunately the new governor, Murphy has said that in fact, he wants it by the end of this year. I think they are going to have legal marijuana within a few months.

One of the sponsors of the bill in the state legislature had proposed a version of legalization that would not have allowed home grow but that’s just one proposal. I can assure you we’re going to be doing our best with our supporters in New Jersey to make sure that whatever version of legalization they adopt that it does include the right to grow your own if you prefer.

Shane McCormick: Have you found it difficult to lobby for the inclusion of home grow?

Keith Stroup: No. When you first start off, if you’re talking to the average state legislator, for example, oftentimes they have had a history of supporting prohibition had been opposed to legalization because legalization for the last three, four decades was generally considered a kind of a radical proposal and it’s only been in the last eight or ten years where we’ve had a significant sections of the American public approaching 50 percent or higher, who have begun to come around and say, no, we support legalization.

And by the way, it’s interesting, even when the polls showed that we have as high as 65 percent support when you drill deeper into those survey questions, it’s not because the majority of those people are pro-pot. It’s because they’re anti-prohibition. They have concluded, like most of us concluded a long time ago that prohibition causes more problems than the use of the drug itself. So it doesn’t make any sense. Frankly, it’s the same thing we learned at the end of alcohol prohibition. I don’t know why we have such a hard time applying that for marijuana, but in essence, it’s because very few white mainstream Americans smoke marijuana it was mostly by Hispanics and blacks and other minorities, and so they didn’t have the political power.

Roughly 14 percent of the adult population in this country are current marijuana smokers. If you talk about how many people have smoked at some time in their life, it’s over 40 percent and in some surveys as high as 50 percent of the adult population. But regarding current smokers, it’s only about 14 percent, and that’s true whether you’re talking Hispanics or blacks or whites. Now you realize when you think about that is if we only have 14 percent who are smokers, we can’t win this issue without the work of a majority of the nonsmokers. It is terribly important as we continue forward that we keep in mind that we’re winning this not because a majority of the country wants to get high or wants to smoke marijuana. It’s because the majority of the country has finally concluded that prohibition is a failed public policy, but it means that we have to make sure and frame our arguments in such a way that we maintain that support of nonsmokers because otherwise, we could not pass another state bill.

Resource: Keith Stroup: NORML Founder | Talks About Home Grow and His History