Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Meme of Marijuana Is One to Watch
By Staff News & Analysis - February 11, 2014

The booming marijuana industry attracts enthusiasts and entrepreneurs … Working from a small booth on the fringes of a trade show packed with thousands of enthusiasts, Sean Donahoe says these are heady times to be in the marijuana business. "In a gold rush, you sell picks and shovels,'' says Donahoe, deputy director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. The young organization is trying to become in effect the Chamber of Commerce of the marijuana business in the nation's largest state. – USA Today

Dominant Social Theme: Marijuana is great. Even though it's still mostly illegal …

Free-Market Analysis: We became aware of this meme several years ago because of the ongoing fixation with "medical marijuana." Over time, we've watched the meme grow into a full-fledged dominant social theme.

This article in USA Today is a good example of how entrepreneurial enthusiasm is being whipped up to ensure that the ongoing marijuana decriminalization and legalization is well received.

At the Los Angeles Cannabis Cup, a trade show, judging contest and festival of pot culture held here Saturday and Sunday, sharp marketers were following Donahoe's business plan. On display was an array of products from pipes and vaporizers used to consume pot to products that aid in growing plants, processing leaf into concentrates, packaging and handling pot, and business services such as legal advice, accounting and consulting.

Donahoe says the marijuana market is exploding with business potential as the weed's legality and acceptance grow. "The industry is pretty robust all across the board,'' says Donahoe, of Oakland.

Just a few yards away, an Irvine company is selling complete plug-and-play growing cabinets for the home herbalist. Inside is everything you need to be a discreet farmer except the dirt and plants — lighting, water, air filtration and circulation systems.

A closet-size model goes for $2,800. Inside the designated "medication" area, available to anyone with a doctor's prescription recommending marijuana for medical use, the crowd was more consumption-focused. Hits off bongs and vaporizers were freely available, and people walked openly with marijuana cigarettes dangling from their lips.

Brianne O'Neill of Nashville demonstrates the Vapexhale for a customer at the Cannabis Cup event in San Bernardino, Calif. The Los Angeles Cannabis Cup event is sponsored by High Times magazine and is one of the largest trade shows for the medical marijuana industry.

Brianne O'Neill of Nashville demonstrates the Vapexhale for a customer at the Cannabis Cup event in San Bernardino, Calif. The Los Angeles Cannabis Cup event is sponsored by High Times magazine and is one of the largest trade shows for the medical marijuana industry

… For those lacking a legal prescription for pot, Medical Green Doctors Inc. of Venice Beach is issuing doctor's order on the spot. The note costs $40, and the line to get in is long. Staffers advise patients that a chronic disorder, lasting six months or longer, is needed.

From what we can tell, the gradual decriminalization of marijuana via medical utilization is only a first step. As with any good dominant social theme, it is growing slowly so that it seems to emerge naturally.

But we can think of several reasons why marijuana is suddenly being subject to re-legalization.

  • With so much of the West growing more authoritarian, the legalization of marijuana makes a good countertrend.
  • As the agitation of the populace grows stronger due to economic and military difficulties along with expanding resource scarcity (all imposed, in our view) the availability of marijuana may provide a calming influence.
  • Finally, the addition and cultivation of an additional industry can provide a powerful countertrend to the current economic malaise.

Given the above, in no way is the sudden emergence of marijuana legalization a coincidence – or at least it would not seem so. Even the way it has hopped around the world is suspect. Uruguay, certain US states and Canada are all at varying stages of allowing marijuana entrepreneurship.

While Uruguay has gotten most of the press, it may be Canada that wins the race, at least to begin with. Canada may soon provide the most fertile environment for marijuana businesses.

According to the National Post, while 477 Canadians were authorized to possess marijuana for medical purposes in 2002, over 41,000 were authorized in 2014 – and this number will continue to grow powerfully over time. Ultimately, millions could be eligible.

Here's some more from the National Post:

On April 1, rules governing medical marijuana production in this country will dramatically change. No longer will the 37,000 Canadians currently licensed to possess cannabis for medicinal use be permitted to grow their own, or purchase from small-scale producers, as they've been allowed since 2001.

Come April, medical marijuana users must buy directly from commercial-sized, profit-seeking operations authorized to grow and sell pot by Health Canada, in accordance with strict new regulations. Patients will still need a document signed by a health care practitioner to buy medical weed, but they will no longer require a Health Canada permit.

Health Canada cited a number of reasons to favour regulatory reform, in a lengthy analysis it prepared in 2012. It noted that recent Canadian court decisions supported its own position, "that dried marijuana for medical purposes should be produced and distributed as much as possible in the same manner as a medication."

The analysis mentioned that under the old system, registered users "generally dislike the application process, and the fact that only a single strain of marijuana is available for purchase."

… It's no wonder that communities across Canada are preparing for a wave of legitimate marijuana investment, and are rewriting local zoning regulations to accommodate the big operators. Charlottetown, Hamilton, Edmonton, Surrey and dozens of places in between are all getting ready for a potential green rush …

Surely the legalization of marijuana is a dominant social theme and what appears to be a fairly slow expansion will at some point become much more rapid. It will seem to those who are not following the meme's growth that what has happened is occurring naturally.

But in no way is this re-industrialization "natural" any more than the initial prohibition. It is an energetic theme that is being aggressively maneuvered into place. As in certain other sectors, fortunes – large and small – will be made by those who understand what's occurring.

After Thoughts

This meme is one to watch.

Posted in Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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