Originally published by Cannabis Now Magazine
Last week, the Arcview Group, a group of marijuana industry investors and researchers, released their forecast of where they believe the marijuana industry is headed in the next five years.
According to the report, over the next five years, 14 states will fully legalize marijuana and two more will become medical-use states. Even more astounding, Arcview expects the legal cannabis market to jump from $2.3 billion in 2014 to $10.2 billion by 2019. The report highlights that growth in the legal marijuana market is already outpacing the growing smart phone industry.
What isn’t quite clear is how local and federal regulations and enforcement will interfere with the obvious economic gain created by a surging marijuana market. Some bold businesspeople have begun plans to open marijuana businesses in Colorado and Washington, yet there are even more potential businesses waiting in the wings to see how these new businesses are regulated or destroyed by rogue law enforcement.
Arcview has wisely refocused the discussion away from the “do the right thing” argument of marijuana activism and geared it towards what matters most to everyone: money. Money talks, bullshit walks.
Eliciting the sympathy of the average American in order to secure safe access to marijuana for people who really do need it was not only a victory for patients, but one also for legalizers and free market advocates.
Legalizers, however, hit a plateau in policy reform by not being proactive and publicly acknowledging the foot-in-the-door medical systems provided to recreational users. The biggest single criticism of state medical systems was the obvious to everyone fact that sick patients were not the only ones utilizing the dispensary system. By not addressing this glaring reality, national dialogue drivers failed to make the unbreakable case for protecting the medical systems from federal interference. Money, not sympathy for the ill, should have always been the force behind the offensive after the medical initiatives passed.
It’s time we get proactive about directing the conversation to where it hits home to more Americans, the free market. A truly free market works like this: the government makes no rules whatsoever about how companies do their business and businesses either thrive or die based on the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest. The company that provides the highest value product at the right price wins.
To be clear, the United States does not actually practice free market capitalism. The federal government subsidizes corn to the tune of $2 billion to $10 billion a year in order to protect the industry from international competition. We buy corn from corn farmers we don’t even need, just to make sure they keep growing it. That’s just one example; the U.S. also subsidizes oil production in order to protect our economy from the high cost of the transportation necessary in a globalized market. We also don’t have a free market because we enjoy quality regulations that ensure the food we eat and the cars we drive are safe.
A legal marijuana market could become anybody’s game. While larger cultivators will have the obvious advantage over small-time home growers, mostly because they will have the ability to overcome high local taxes and costly permits by having a lowered cost of production and higher output, cottage industries of marijuana accessories and byproducts are still being invented daily, most of these products still truly do exist on a “free” market.
This cottage industry creates a ripple of jobs, not just for the person with the idea, but the companies that build the product, the companies that makes signs and business cards, the media that relies on paid advertisements and etc. Marijuana legalization is real job creation. Marijuana legalization takes the billions of dollars not currently invested in our economy but spent within our borders and puts it back into the pockets of Americans of all socioeconomic statuses.
By taking the discussion in the direction of free market capitalism and employment at the state level, Arcview is bringing the dialogue across the medical impasse toward what matters most to all Americans—money. If Americans viewed law enforcement crackdowns as federal interference in the free market rather than attempts to regulate a rogue marketplace, public support and funding for such crackdowns would become non-existent.
Marijuana is a proven medicine, despite the uneducated “we need more research” commentary some politicians are still espousing. But, amid the worst economic recession since the Great Depression and a sluggishly imbalanced recovery, moving the discussion towards allowing a free and legal marijuana market is common sense, regardless of political affiliation.