The Haymaker is Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott’s opinion column about cannabis politics and culture.

Legalization campaigns often win with this simple idea: “Let’s regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

It’s a notion first popularized by legalization advocate Mason Tvert and the Marijuana Policy Project, who rode it to victory in Colorado in 2012. The idea makes perfect sense to voters. So why do so many politicians not get it?


Case in point: Massachusetts.

Five years ago, Bay State voters agreed to regulate marijuana like alcohol. Today cannabis is legal for adults but it is in no way regulated like alcohol.

Cannabis companies must sign Host Community Agreements (HCAs)—often on extortionate terms—just to open their doors. The plant…

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