There is the smell of victory and then there is the sweet smell of success, and both aromas smell an awful lot like cannabis these days. After a century of scorched earth government crusade against the plant a fundamental shift is taking place, and it threatens to change everything. Pot has indeed been winning, but not everywhere — yet.
At the exact same moment when there are hundreds of thousands of Americans in jails and prisons over pot convictions, well over 50% of Americans polled believe that cannabis should be legal for adults.
Eight states now allow the regulated sale of cannabis to adults. More than 60 percent of Americans live in a state that has either legal medical or recreational marijuana, and nearly two thirds of the nation has some form of legalization.
A recent report indicates that 123,000 Americans are currently employed full-time in the cannabis industry, which is already worth billions despite being in complete defiance of federal law.
Imagine what the cannabis industry could do if it could operate outside of state lines, in all 50 states, and business owners could bank with their money and deduct their expenses like other businesses can?
Marijuana tax collections in Colorado and Washington have so far exceeded initial estimates. Total legalization would likely result in billions of dollars per year in marijuana tax revenue that could help plug a lot of important funding holes and provide needed services.
In excess of 60 percent of the pot revenue raised by Washington State already goes to public health programs like Medicaid, substance abuse prevention education, community health centers, and a portion will be shared with the local governments that allow cannabis sales.
If cannabis can generate so much economic activity and interest as a federally illegal substance, only legal on the state level in a handful of states, a legal interstate and eventually international, cannabis industry could be a gateway to economic recovery for America.
What Was Chicken Little Smoking?
Even with the sky intact after multiple states have rejected prohibition, the opponents of legalization are still incredulous. They scream from the rooftops that legalization will bring workplace accidents, increased crime rates, scores of traffic accidents, and skyrocketing youth use rates. But despite the smorgasbord of dire gloom and doom predictions offered by anti-legalization “experts” their concerns have largely not rung true.
Five years into the legalization experiment the data tells us that in all of those cases there has either been no change since pot has been decriminalized or there has actually been a statistical reduction. Rather than cause death, pain, and suffering, numerous studies have revealed an association between cannabis availability and decreased rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality.
When asked recently how he felt about legalization 3 years in, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper replied: “… we’re not going to see a big spike in teenagers using marijuana. I’d say in most circumstances, from most perspectives, our worst nightmares haven’t materialized.”
In Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and State Attorney General Bob Ferguson have vowed to defend their state’s recreational cannabis industry should the Trump Administration target it.
Yet for the longest time cannabis enthusiasts and advocates have endured a relentless onslaught of denigration, ridicule, mockery, and prejudice. And the indignities have not stopped at being marginalized, scapegoated, and embarrassed.
Many Americans caught with cannabis have been treated on par with dangerous and violent criminals. People convicted of pot crimes can expect to be incarcerated right along with many of the scariest of criminals. Some have had their children taken away or have lost their careers, homes, cars, and bank accounts. Some have lost their lives.
And there have been other ways that prohibition has harmed society with its false stereotypes, exaggerations, and characterizations.
The “giggle factor” that cannabis advocates know they can expect from mainstream society has been a subtle form of dog whistle ridicule. Non-users often start to smile and laugh at the mention of cannabis. It is a sub-conscious way to relegate the entire subject of cannabis to some whimsical, silly, absurd status, without actually saying anything negative about the subject.
In media, on talk shows and interviews, someone who wanted to characterize someone’s ideas as asinine, absurd, childish, or foolish, might say, “Well, I don’t know what he’s been smoking but…” This is supposed to insinuate that the person targeted is so out of bounds that he must be smoking pot because, after all, who else would come up with something that bizarre and ridiculous?
For several generations the pot user has been presented to mainstream society by the government and media as the zoned out, fuzzy, deadbeat slacker — a glazed-eyed stumblebum who ate all your food and is still sleeping on your couch.
But that is all about to change. In fact, the change has already begun. There is a cannabis tsunami approaching and it won’t have the scent of patchouli attached to it.
The Lap of Legal Luxury in High Society
While some Americans languish in jails or prisons over pot, contemplating how to survive the next 24 hours without being attacked or sexually assaulted, other Americans are enjoying the freedom and the convenience of state legal over-the-counter retail pot markets. They enjoy the freedom to go to a cannabis shop, buy some weed, and go on their merry way as long as they are 21 years of age. In contrast, you could really call that a luxury.
And many Americans who choose cannabis would consider it a luxury not to be going to jail over weed, or not being frisked for the color of their skin. And then there would be the luxury of not being discriminated against for a job, or housing, or for possessing a firearm. The luxury of not having your children taken away, or of having your home and car seized would also probably make the list.
It’s hard to know when we might be seeing those luxuries from the hardships of prohibition disappear, but there is an entirely different form of luxuriousness taking place for cannabis, one that only serves to highlight the ironic paradox that is the American legalization experiment.
While some states still exist in the prehistoric prohibition dark ages, the legal states are ushering in a brand new image for cannabis and if I was Ralph Lauren I would be concerned.
A new study from Miner and Co. Studio has revealed that a vast majority of cannabis consumers are employed full-time and have a household income of $75,000 or more. There is a new high end cannabis product market targeting the upper echelon of the moneyed classes and don’t expect Bob Marley music to be playing in the background.
However, do expect the Bob Marley estate, through a 30-year licensing deal, to market Marley Natural. The brand will sell cannabis, personal care products and accessories and aims to be the “Starbucks of marijuana.”
Whether you are looking to buy a $3,600 cannabis cigar or stay in a cannabis friendly bed and breakfast in some distant land, high society is now being courted by a suitor that has undergone a radical changeover and is dressed in Armani.
Whoopi Goldberg, Willie Nelson, and other celebrities are diving into the cannabis industry, as the old negative pot image peels away and ganja forges a new image based upon entrepreneurship, innovation, & industry. There is a now bandwagon forming that others will most certainly want to jump onto as the new emerging growth-industry begins to ascend both in stature and size.
While witnessing the big money opulence being infused into the cannabis culture can be a little hard to swallow for some of us — especially while there are people still going to jails and prisons — the fastest way to change the entire paradigm is to normalize and mainstream the herb in general. If we can demystify pot while creating financial incentives for society to reject prohibition we will be cementing the demise of a policy that has failed on every apparent level.
If prohibition was meant to stop Americans from using cannabis it has been a complete and total waste of taxpayer dollars, dollars that have been spent preventing a potential generator of tax revenues that could rival those of the alcohol industry.
Bucky Fuller said, “Don’t fight forces — use them.” The cannabis industry is using the forces of supply and demand to carve a niche in the economic marketplace.