Marijuana Economy

Handblown glass pipes and bongs are displayed in antique cabinets at the Farm, a marijuana dispensary in one of two states that have legalized the drug.

The walls feature paintings by local artists. There are vaporizers, electronic cigarettes, rolling papers and more. That’s just in the front of the store.

In the back room, “budtenders” are selling gluten-free edibles, lollipops, salves and, of course, marijuana.

Jan Cole’s company grows and harvests its own marijuana strains, but the Farm depends on vendors to provide many of the products sold at the store. The business employs 103 people.

Behind the scenes, there are accountants, lawyers, janitors, Internet providers, soil companies, testing laboratories and more.

The cannabis industry isn’t just pot shops and warehouse grows. It’s an industry that could reach $2.57 billion in value this year, according to the Arcview Group, a San Francisco investment and research firm that focuses on the cannabis business.

The National Cannabis Industry Association has more than 500 members and will hold the first National Cannabis Business Summit in Denver for more than 800 people in late June.

“Sixty percent growth, so it’s the fastest-growing industry in America,” said Michael Correia, a federal lobbyist for the association. “This is all while it’s illegal federally. Can you imagine what would happen if it were legal federally?”

A couple of blocks from the Colorado Capitol, a historic, two-story brick house is home to Vicente Sederberg, billed as “the marijuana law firm.”

The National Cannabis Industry Association headquarters is in a carriage house behind the law firm. Founded in late 2010, the association has members in 22 states — including equipment manufactures, lawyers, accountants, laboratories, security firms, business consultants and investment companies.

“A year ago, we had about 150 members. Now we’re up to 500,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the organization. “Half of those members are either dispensaries or cultivation operations, and the other half are ancillary businesses of various types.”

Sixty percent growth, so it’s the fastest-growing industry in America,” said Michael Correia, a federal lobbyist for the association. “This is all while it’s illegal federally. “Can you imagine what would happen if it were legal federally?”

Yes we can; should marijuana be legal throughout the nation the resultant boost to the economy – vis-a-vis taxes, new businesses et al – would more than offset the dollars currently rolling in via the DEA and their ilk. Moreover the new dollars would be broadly distributed throughout the larger economy, not be closely held by a small para-military organization. In addition we could start demilitarizing state and federal police forces: no more children or animals killed in midnight raids.

This is to say nothing of the reduced power of the narco-gangs and cartels south of our border our government has tacitly supported for decades via their hidebound drug policies.

The corporate penal system would save money as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.

I’ve no problem envisioning that at all.

Rêves doux

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