The legal marijuana industry in Colorado and the legal porn industry in California, compare and contrast

Much hinges on the ability of Colorado’s dispensaries to adapt. From serving a relatively stable pool of 110,000 patients with medicinal red cards those with recreational licences must now serve a much bigger, fluid market while jumping through myriad new regulatory hoops intended to track every marijuana plant from seed to sale.

Each plant clipping must be tagged with a unique serial number as it flowers and is harvested, weighed, dried, trimmed, packaged and transported. Stores must record each sale and have a set number of cameras with certain pixelation, among other security requirements.

It is a formidable list but the industry, eager for mainstream acceptance, has assented. “We are the only industry that has lobbied for regulation and taxes because we realise that’s what we have to do if we are to keep the Department of Justice at bay and keep public opinion on our side,” said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.

[…]

How many are ready for prime time remains to be seen, but if Cullen’s Evergreen Apothecary store is any guide, recreational pot’s legal debut should go smoothly. The former teacher has installed extra points of sale, hired extra employees, trained staff to educate a new breed of customer unfamiliar with pot shop etiquette (no photographs, no consuming on the premises), stocked up on child-resistant bags, received official tags and liaised with police and the Colorado Department of Revenue’s marijuana enforcement division.

To enter the store you need to show and swipe ID. Once inside it could be Starbucks – clean, bright, hardwood floors, coffee-shop music, products and prices marked on blackboards – except for jars of green buds marked with names like Bubba Kush, Perplex, Afghooey and Red Diesel, plus infused edibles such as CBD-enriched “Mountain High Suckers” lollipops and Karma Kandy Creams. You can also buy glass pipes and books with titles like The Marijuana Chef Cookbook, Marijuana Made Simple and Teaming with Microbes.

From the Guardian

The pornographic film industry in Los Angeles is facing its third production shutdown in a year, after another performer tested positive for HIV. The news rounds off a difficult year for the industry in LA, in which a law mandating the use of condoms on film sets has prompted many companies to move productions elsewhere.

[…]

In September, the FSC [“Free Speech Coalition” a lobby group for pornographers] chief executive, Diane Duke, said: “We’re not against condoms. We’re against condoms being mandatory. Our performers prefer not to use condoms.

From the Guardian

During the scene, a male extra hit Bay too hard on set and badly injured her left-breast tissue. Kink.com paid for her hospital visit through workers compensation, and her doctor ordered her not to work for two weeks so that her breast could recover, Bay said. The surgery she needs on her breast, which is artificially enlarged, has now been postponed — possibly permanently — because she has HIV.

Kink.com confirmed to HuffPost that performers’ injuries on set are covered by workers compensation but the company’s HR department was not available for comment on Bay’s injury.

In the same shoot, there was a separate incident when “really, really bad stuff” happened on set, Bay said. “Let’s just say there was an incident, and we should have stopped shooting,” she said, declining to give more details. “Very poor decisions by a few of us.”

“I was new to the industry. When I was told that I was safe to shoot, I was like, ‘OK, cool,’” she said. “I had no idea. I really didn’t understand.”

From the Huffington Post

Corporate lobbyists suffered a major defeat recently when Philadelphia-based US District Court Judge Michael Baylson upheld federal regulation 2257, which requires pornography producers to maintain documentation that performers are at least 18 years old. The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the porn industry lobbying group, had challenged 2257 on First Amendment grounds claiming that the law is overly burdensome and chills free speech.

This case highlights how porn has become big business, flexing its political muscles to fight regulation it sees as costly with wanton disregard for the consequences. At the same time, like other industries confronting controversial issues, the porn industry has tried to burnish its public image by promoting itself as a good corporate citizen that can be trusted to self-regulate.

Nowhere is this cynical behavior more blatant than in the case of the porn industry-backed non-profit group Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP). ASACP was founded in 1996 by the porn industry and claims that it “battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline” and is “dedicated to online child protection.” Yet the same industry has spent many years trying to undo the very regulations that attempt to shield children from being exploited.

[…]

Why is the overturning of 2257 such a priority for the porn industry? To answer this, we need to go back to 2002 when the Free Speech Coalition had its first major victory, in the Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition decision. Arguing that the 1996 Child Pornography Prevention Act – which prohibited any image that “is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” – limited the pornography industry’s free speech, the FSC succeeded in narrowing the law to cover only images of actual minors. The path was cleared for the porn industry to use legal-age performers but make them look much younger.

Following the Ashcroft decision, Internet porn sites featuring young (and very young-looking females) exploded, and the industry realized that it had hit upon a very lucrative market segment.

[…]

The age documentation requirements of 2257 represent a key component of a legal struggle to prevent child pornography, especially in an age of fragmented and globalized production. Even though enforcement has been lax and software packages to manage 2257 compliance are available, the industry claims that it’s all too expensive and burdensome. Like the garment industry facing outrage over sweatshops, the porn industry wants to self-police. This “just trust us” approach helps resolve the paradox of the good cop–bad cop strategy of the industry’s twin non-profits, ASACP and FSC. If the industry wants to self-police, it needs to win the public’s trust that it can act with social responsibility AND challenge governmental regulation. But as Judge Baylson ruled, when a powerful industry is willing to do whatever it takes to maximize profits, self policing is not enough.

Gail Dines and David Levy, A Rare Defeat for Corporate Lobbyists

A recent study of Chlamydia and gonorrhea infection and re-infection rates for adult film industry performers from 2004-2008 revealed startling findings regarding the high rates of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) in the adult film industry, said AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today. Among the findings: Chlamydia incidence in adult film performers was 8.5 times higher than the rate in Los Angeles County residents aged 18-29 and 34 times higher than in the general population. Gonorrhea incidence was 18 times higher in porn performers than Los Angeles County residents aged 18-29 and 64 times higher than in the general population.

[…]

“Not only do these findings directly contradict claims by the adult film industry that STD rates are lower among performers than among the general population, it also destroys the industry’s argument that regular STD and HIV testing is a replacement for condoms,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The only way to prevent such high infection and re-infection rates among porn performers is the enforcement of California worker safety laws that require condom use on set.”

Study Shows STD Rates Much Higher in Adult Film Performers

9 responses

  1. neither of these industries is comparable.

  2. I agree, but I had a specific point to make with this post.

    I am in favour of the decriminalisation/legalisation of the drugs trade (I think users themselves should be decriminalised and addiction treated purely as a medical issue, while some, but not all drugs, should be available the same way tobacco and alcohol are now), but I reject the comparison between the drugs trade and the sex trade, and am not in favour of the decriminalsation of the sex industry (I used the porn industry here, as they are both US based, I could have made a comparison with Germany’s legal ‘flat rate’ brothels, that offer oral sex without condoms, and ‘gang bangs’ for a small supplementary charge).

    The drugs trade and the sex trade are not comparable, in that one is the trade in various chemical compounds, and the other is the trade in human beings. With the drugs trade, the ‘welfare’ of the chemical compound being sold is not a part of the debate.

    Other people often make the comparison between the drugs trade and the sex trade, saying (rightly in my opinion) that the ‘war on drugs’ has done more harm than good. They then go on to say that the sex trade is the same, and that abolition does more harm than good, and that the decriminalisation of the sex industry would reduce or remove most of the harm.

    I made the comparison above to demonstrate how decriminalising the sex trade, as in the LA based porn industry, has not reduced harm, because the sex industry is one that is predicated on abuse and exploitation, and it is abuse and exploitation whether or not it is legal.

    I also made the comparison to show that the legality of porn production has not ‘cleaned up’ the industry, the porn producers fight tooth and nail against any health and safety measures, any accountability, anything that might reduce their profits, and it shows that the bosses don’t give a shit about the workers.

    Compare that with the legalised marijuana trade in Colorado, where the producers have actively asked for greater controls, greater restrictions, greater accountability.

    This comparison shows that there is no similarity between the drugs trade and the sex trade, and that evidence of legalisation/decriminalisation of the drugs trade improving society, does not in any way prove that decriminalising the sex industry will bring about improvements.

  3. oh! then that makes much more sense to me (i apologize for being so quick to comment, english isn’t my native language)! and yes, they are absolutely incomparable, in terms of restrictions. many u.s. porn producers will circumvent californian law regarding porn productions by filming in private properties, so it’s not surprising that incidents–incidents which they will try to portray as isolated–with their female performers, keep happening… because they have no interest in upholding the law, much less protecting the women involved in their productions. porn actresses have a “shelf life”, so to speak, because the producers–much like society, except more pathologically–see these women as disposable. 😦

  4. Hi, no problem! (re. your first comment)

  5. […] porn industry itself fights tooth and nail against any legislation to protect it’s ‘workers’, and the astro-turf group that […]

  6. “Compare that with the legalised marijuana trade in Colorado, where the producers have actively asked for greater controls, greater restrictions, greater accountability.”

    The difference being that marijuana producers don’t sell people and are therefore of quite different ethical and moral background than pornographers.

    Same reason why prostitution will never be a “job like any other” – even the most empowerfulized prostitute will still have to deal with johns who think they can buy people like cattle, because that’s the only kind of john there is.

  7. […] The idea that the porn industry will police itself is hopelessly naïve, and has been shown not to happen in the real world. […]

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