Smokebit says: A big win for marijuana consumers everywhere, more than half of the states in the US have legalised marijuana in some way.
If you live in a part of the world where smoking marijuana is still illegal, its easy to believe that cannabis will never be legal, even though it may seem obvious to you that it should be. Those of you that live in places where marijuana use is still illegal will not yet know the delight of walking into a professionally run marijuana dispensary and buying your cannabis from a pretty girl, dressed in white like a pharmacist.
You may perhaps understand the pleasure of popping into your social club with your friends to choose from the weed menu and watch The Walking Dead on the big screen while you smoke something amazing, but chances are you are not legally allowed to do it. Where I live, I can legally grow marijuana in my house and I can smoke marijuana recreationally at my private members social club, but when I return to my home country, I have to resort to buying my marijuana from shady, illegal sources, paying far too much for the cannabis that I get.
To those of you who live in such places and who are still criminalized for enjoying a perfectly safe and increasingly socially acceptable drug, I say that you should take heart at the recent 'Marijuana Elections' in the United States, where we saw a big shift towards the socially acceptable (and legal) recreational use of marijuana this month.
Big Wins For Marijuana Culture
This month (November 2016) we saw the US states of California, Nevada, Maine, Arizona and Massachusetts vote to legalize recreational marijuana use and a further four states (Florida, Arkansas, N.Dakota and Montana) vote to legalize medical marijuana use. With the huge amounts of noise generated by Trump and the simultaneous US Presidential election, it's easy not to have noticed that these marijuana legalization votes were taking place, but we just saw some truly historic wins for the marijuana industry and cannabis smokers everywhere.
In November 2016, the US increased the number of states with legal marijuana laws on their books up to twenty eight, more than half of the fifty states in the US have legalized cannabis in some form for the very first time in history.
It really was a historic month for marijuana smokers everywhere and I think that this acceptance of legal marijuana use in the US will have a positive effect globally, as increasingly other countries begin to notice the legal marijuana industry in the US and view cannabis sales as a potentially lucrative source of untapped tax revenue.
The momentum of the marijuana legalization movement is growing exponentially in the United States and the trend is clear, 60%+ of Americans now support marijuana legalization compared to just 31% in 2000, this is a trend I see emerging on a global scale.
The US marijuana community has done some amazing work over the last decade, they deserve a huge round of applause for their work in helping to shape public perceptions and opinion, all the while working against some very proactive and mindlessly negative anti-marijuana campaigns.
In this context, I think that the great US Marijuana Elections of 2016 were a historic win for the marijuana industry and community in the US, with huge repercussions for cannabis culture globally.
Think Of Those Sweet, Sweet Tax Dollars
I think the most important vote on recreational marijuana by far was in California, the state with the largest economy in the US. The marijuana industry nationally more than tripled in size just because California legalized recreational marijuana consumption this month.
The US market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is now projected to grow to $25 billion by 2020, up from $7 billion this year, these are no longer small numbers and the industry is obviously becoming increasingly attractive to investors and the tax authorities.
The tax returns that could be generated from a nationwide legal marijuana industry could potentially become an enormously lucrative source of tax revenues, funding schools, infrastructure and social services, if anything puts pressure on the Federal government to reign in the Drug Enforcement Agency who still enforce the national ban, it will be this.
It Don't Make No Motherfucking Sense
Presently we are in this crazy situation where legal marijuana dispensaries are being raided by Federal authorities, their products and profits confiscated by the DEA, even though they pay their taxes on time and do business legally.
This huge gap between the national ban on marijuana at the Federal level and the legalization of marijuana at the state level is increasingly perplexing to many of those in the industry who want to take their work seriously and who go about their work in a professional way, but at the same time are treated as criminals by the US Federal government.
Right now you can pay the US Federal government your taxes as a marijuana producer, distributor or grower, but that doesn't stop you being raided by the same Federal government, which is completely fucked up when you think about it.
Even worse (from an operational perspective, because the risk of getting raided was always the cost of doing business), if you own a marijuana or cannabis business, you will find it incredibly difficult to even open a bank account for your business and accept credit card payments from your customers as financial institutions struggle with the gap in legality between Federal and State law.
This confusion is leading to a situation where legal business people are forced to hoard their cash, money they make from marijuana. Most of them are now hiring ex-military and ex-police veterans as bodyguards to protect their burgeoning cash and crop piles.
The problem with this is that all of that cash makes businesses dealing in cannabis an attractive target for criminals. In 2014, two years before recreational use of cannabis in the state was legalized, the Denver police department logged more than 200 robberies on marijuana businesses.
What is most worrying is that this trend of criminals preying upon legal marijuana business owners is going accelerate as legal marijuana businesses become increasingly licensed and visible, unless the authorities step in and protect marijuana businesses as they do any other.
Look At All That Cash
Industry confusion aside, the great Marijuana Elections of 2016 were a landmark moment for the marijuana industry financially and we are increasingly seeing marijuana related business list themselves on major stock exchanges. There are now more then fifty publicly traded cannabis related companies in the United States, more than anywhere else in the world.
We are about to see some serious marijuana businesses emerge, ones that are much more professional than the illegal businesses that came before them, who take things like security, brand, marketing, sales, PR, industry self-regulation and political lobbying very seriously indeed.
I am seeing private and institutional investors pour into the business too, they see the potentially huge and lucrative returns that can be earned in the industry and the rapid national growth of legalization as a trend they can trust.
According to ArcView Research, an analyst firm that focuses on the cannabis industry, the legal marijuana market grew 17% in 2015 to $5.4 billion and that represents serious growth in a still mostly illegal market, with ArcView estimating that the market will grow a further 25% in 2016 to $6.7 billion.
Whatever your view on marijuana legalization, with numbers like that on the table, the marijuana industry is becoming increasingly attractive, as well as increasingly wealthy and powerful, extending its scope and reach nationally and I think that this is something that can only be good for cannabis consumers at an international level.
Great News For Stoners
For recreational (and medical) smokers, the elections were fantastic news, as we saw the recreational legalization of marijuana take hold across the United States, the most powerful country in the world. In many states under the new laws, a cannabis smoker who is 21 or older may possess for personal use up to 1 ounce of marijuana or cannabis in public, and up to 10 ounces at home!!
Can you imagine the police come to search your house and leave you with all ten ounces of your super silver haze? Generally speaking, in the US the law also allows you the possession of up to 6 marijuana plants per person for personal use, but places a limit of 12 marijuana plants per household in place.
12 plants is a shit ton of bud for personal use, if you know how to grow weed properly.
Very few other countries in the world provide this sort of legal framework for cannabis consumers to legally grow and consume marijuana for recreational purposes and I think that as other countries look for an established precedent upon which to base their own marijuana legalization laws, they will increasingly point to the US as a good example of where marijuana legalization was successful.
Internationally, drug authorities seemed to ignore the fact that when Portugal legalized every drug (including crack and heroin), it had massively positive repercussions for their society, but I think its going to be a lot harder to ignore the US turning green.
The Tide Is Turning
In this context, I think that I can confidently assert that not only were the US marijuana elections of November 2016 a historic moment for American consumers, growers and distributors of marijuana, but also a fantastic moment for those of us who are not quite so lucky enough to live in such a 420 friendly country.
The US Marijuana Elections give us hope that at long last, the tide is turning in our favor.
When the worlds most powerful economy decides that the marijuana business is a good business and legalizes it, its only a matter of time before the rest of the world follows suit. Say what you will about the US, but know that the United States Of America invented the modern marijuana industry, are continuing to re-invent it and absolutely know how to grow the worlds finest weed (am nodding at Canada and Spain as I say this).
What do YOU think? Comments below please.