Now that Colorado’s cannabis legalization referendum is skyrocketing in the polls, we see the desparate stirrings of the vastly outnumbered opposition forces around the country. The majority are amongst the ususal suspects: narcotics officers, police chiefs, probation officers, drug counselors and others who stand to see significant reductions in their funding if public policy begins to de-emphasize the “war on drugs.”
The group that stands to lose the most, though, are the current entrenched medical marijuana providers. These persons fought and won the battle to produce and distribute cannabis medicines legally. Most have made significant investments trying to satisfy local regulations. These investments will likely be marginalized, in any state which begins to allow any person over 21 to purchase cannabis and, more importantly, open the door for cannabis sales at general retailers. This will also have a devastating impact on the – now lucrative – industry which had arose around the doctor’s recommendation. This explains why proposition 19 – California’s last attempt at legalization – failed. Many sucessful cannabis growers and sellers fought hard to defeat this measure.
Specifically, one medical marijuana producer – Steve Sarich – is suing the state of Washington in an attempt to remove the issue from the november ballot. Part of his arguement is that legalization will greatly reduce the retail value of cannabis. Now, anyone who is well-informed knows that the black market prices which dominate the medical marijuana market aren’t indicative of the true costs of indoor cultivation. Millions of dollars of profits are being produced through sales at these elevated rates. No national advocacy groups are going to lobby to reduce the costs of medicine, because the state’s ability to create windfalls through taxation is too big a cherry. Last week, the Rand Corporation sponsored a Congressional briefing where just such predictions were proffered: prices will come down if legalization takes root.
This is not bad news for the myriad numbers who are finding relief with cannabis therapies, but no relief from profiteering by cannabis purveyors. Those that stand to lose because of legalization are going to have to take it on the chin. Times are changing and there will come a day when person’s will be able to obtain high-grade cannabis without having to borrow.