The Business of Legal Marijuana in the United States:
The marijuana industry continues to grow in the U.S. Over the last decade, the marijuana industry has bloomed into a billion dollar industry and it is expected to grow even larger. Given that less than half of the states in the U.S. have passed laws making medical and/or recreational marijuana legal, and more states are expected to pass laws to legalize marijuana in 2016. A recent report from the Huffington Post relayed that the marijuana industry is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. right now. The report relayed that if the federal government legalizes marijuana, the marijuana industry could be bigger than the organic food industry. The marijuana market in the U.S. was $2.7 billion in 2014 and is expected to be even bigger this year showing more than 30 percent growth. In just four years, the report relays that the industry could be worth $11 billion annually. Marijuana reform is definitely big business in the United States.
Is the Marijuana Industry Getting too Big Too Fast:
Voters became anxious last month in Ohio when they viewed the marijuana legalization proposal on the ballot as a money grab by big money members of the industry. Given voter approval in Ohio, a small number of land owners and industry big-wigs would have been given rights to grow, cultivate, and sale marijuana in the state. Voters viewed this as a formation of a monopoly on marijuana in the state and therefore voted against the legalization process. Some now fear that the marijuana reform process, which started as a social justice and rights movement, may now be turning into a big business, what is best for the industry, movement.
The former director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Dan Riffle, said the he recently left the advocacy group because he feared that their agenda was being skewed and manipulated by big money. Riffle shared that the group used to bemoan the fact that few donated money to the advocacy group, but that has changed. Riffle states that individuals and groups are giving money to the MPP and with this money comes manipulation. Once money is given, some donors believe they are owed something in return which is when manipulation of agenda begins. Now, when big money gets involved, the original agenda of social policy and justice becomes lost in big business and industry wants and needs.
The marijuana businesses and industry looks for mass production and excess in an effort to attain profits, all while inadvertently creating an environment that could lead to more marijuana abuse. Contrary opinions seek to remain focused on social policy and justice by setting up non-profits as distributors, or having the government regulate in a way similar to alcohol. This conflict is likely going to be a problem that must be acknowledged and dealt with as the reform process moves forward in the U.S. It could mean the difference between a successful social policy and personal rights movement, versus a movement that gets lost in the big business quest for excess and profits.