Marijuana was first legalized in California in 1996. You could say that was the beginning of the cannabis prohibition in the U.S. However, from that year, things have been moving slowly but surely and today we have 18 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Today, the cannabis market in the U.S., both legal and illegal, is a 30$ billion industry. Obviously, that’s a lot of money. With a cake that big, everybody wants a piece of it. However, not everyone will get it.
Why Fight Legalization?
It seems that the ones opposing marijuana legalization were actually medical marijuana advocates. Weird, right? Why would the people who have fought for legalization in the first place suddenly be against it? Well, it’s actually really simple. Medical marijuana advocates, dispensary managers and marijuana distributors have a certain way of doing things. Namely, they have a virtual monopoly on some pretty high medical marijuana prices. It is not in their interest for recreational marijuana to become legal because that means that their prices will have to go down since the competition will be huge. And nobody likes a competition that lowers your standard of living.
Take No Chances
Let’s take Maine’s example. Medical marijuana was legalized there in 1999. A couple of years ago, Maine tried to decriminalize marijuana for small possession of up to 2.5 ounces. Even though that wasn’t a direct threat to the medical marijuana industry, it still didn’t pass because people would be more prone buy weed from drug dealers on the street, despite the fact that it’s not grown in fantastic conditions. Prices set by drug dealers would naturally be lower and that would eventually hurt the medical marijuana dispensaries in Maine. So they nipped that one in the bud.
Colorado & Washington Going Strong
Similar efforts failed in Colorado where medical marijuana dispensaries were given the option to transform their business into a recreational shop. In Washington, the Cannabis Action Coalition tried to prevent the legalization of recreational marijuana. Thankfully, they haven’t succeeded. It’s good the see that interests of the few didn’t outweigh those of the many. Even though the discrepancy between federal and state law is still up in the air, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said in 2009 that medical marijuana patients will not necessarily be prosecuted if they have a medical marijuana card.
Just recently, several dispensaries in Washington were raided for not adhering to the regulations. Business records for confiscated, along with a fair amount of medical marijuana. Things like this will continue to happen and to some extent we support the dispensary shutdowns because marijuana needs to be heavily regulated, albeit for medical or recreational purposes.