Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Will the Internet Complicate the Evolution of the Marijuana Industry?
By Staff News & Analysis - March 31, 2014

MediJean one of hundreds of companies gearing up to supply marijuana … From the outside, there's little to distinguish MediJean Distribution Inc.'s headquarters from the unremarkable office complexes and warehouses that surround it in a sprawling slice of industrial suburbia near Vancouver. Inside, however, the picture is unlike anything else around it. The company is putting the finishing touches on a massive hydroponic operation as it joins a lucrative new industry made possible by Health Canada's overhaul of the country's medical pot system. – TheStar.com

Dominant Social Theme: Medical marijuana is growing up.

Free-Market Analysis: Is medical marijuana the wave of the future? We've argued that while the legalization of marijuana is a kind of dominant social theme, it may not be so controllable as some currently believe.

In fact, this article excerpted above portrays the emergent marijuana industry as a kind of reasonable evolution that could lead to predictable results. In our coverage, we've tried to point out a more controversial reality, that the evolution of the industry may ignite a larger conversation that could extend to regulatory democracy itself.

The coverage, to be sure, has focused mostly on how the nascent marijuana industry will evolve within the context of regulations currently being designed. It is taken for granted by the mainstream media that such regulations must go hand-in-hand with the development of commercial marijuana.

But we think sooner or later there will be additional ramifications. For nearly a half-century people's lives have been blighted by enforcement of legal penalties regarding marijuana. These include incarcerations literally for decades, families destroyed and futures made miserable.

While it is not a topic of conversation, for obvious reasons, it surely has begun to occur to people that the "war on drugs" is not merely an expensive failure but an unreasonable one. This epiphany will have manifold ramifications and strikes at the heart of the current system of jurisprudence and enforcement.

We are not exactly sure, of course, why decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are sweeping the world, but we are sure they are taking place at an emphatic rate. As we've argued in the past, this is more of a kind of directed history. There are suddenly initiatives worldwide involving marijuana. It's as if the starter's gun has sounded; the race has begun and there is no turning back.

We don't see any of this recognition in the above article. Here's more:

"This is anything but a grow-op," says Anton Mattadeen, the company's chief strategy officer, during a recent tour of the facility in Richmond, B.C. "It is a clean-run, biopharmaceutical facility designed to produce the highest quality produce available. Whatever your views are based on the stigma (of marijuana), that's not us."

Mattadeen makes the same pitch other operators do: MediJean, he says, will be able to produce a wide variety of consistent, high-quality marijuana that simply wasn't available in the makeshift home grow-ops of the old system.

MediJean is one of hundreds of companies that have applied to supply marijuana under new Health Canada regulations that aim to stop patients from growing their own pot and instead restrict production to licensed commercial operations.

… As of early February, Health Canada had received more than 450 applications from prospective producers, with about 25 new applications arriving every week. While Health Canada sold medical marijuana for $5 a gram under the old system, prices are expected to average about $8 initially, though the federal government predicts competition will make the drug cheaper as more producers enter the market.

Health Canada says the number of patients consuming medical marijuana in the country could increase to between 300,000 and 400,000 within a decade. PharmaCan Capital has already invested in three medical marijuana outfits in B.C., Ontario and Quebec, and says it has raised more than $10 million in the last 12 months. CEO Paul Rosen says attitudes toward marijuana are shifting in Canada — and around the world in the industry's favour.

"There's a lot of cultural momentum, globally and within Canada, leading to a general, more accepting, liberal understanding of what marijuana really is," says Rosen. In addition to Health Canada, medical marijuana operators also must deal with local municipalities, where politicians and residents aren't always ready to welcome the marijuana industry.

The commercial market also has its detractors among patients, particularly those who have been growing their own marijuana. They complain the prices will be too high under the new system and they won't have the same access to the strains that work for them. A group of patients won a Federal Court injunction March 21 that will allow them to continue to grow and possess under the old rules until a legal challenge of the updated regime is heard, likely within the next year.

Ottawa warned that allowing the old system to continue would prevent the commercial market from fully developing. Mattadeen, the strategy officer at MediJean, says he isn't worried. He insists the market will be healthy, even with the injunction. "You're talking about a pretty small number of people who are comfortable and want to be able to grow their own product," he says.

The end of this article hints at what is actually going on – as well as trends to come. The significance of the evolution of the marijuana industry is that it may NOT be contained.

The power elite behind the current initiatives seems to believe that a transition to legal marijuana can occur without glitches and within the context of the current system. But given the amazing hypocrisy of the previous legal regime, we wonder if people will be so easily manipulated this time.

Governments, in other words, can set up medical marijuana regimes, but people may not be apt to obey. Marijuana is not that difficult to grow and having experienced the unjustifiable nature of the previous regime, those who wish to cultivate the plant for whatever reason may simply move ahead with their own plans regardless of government strictures.

We came upon a press release recently: "Backlash Over Oregon's Decision To Ban Edible Medical Marijuana Items" that was circulated by PRWeb on behalf of A&A packaging. Here's how it began:

Protecting children against the accidental ingestion of marijuana infused food products should always be the state's top priority.

Oregon's Medical Marijuana law has taken a surprising turn of events as the Oregon Health Department has opted to prohibit sale of sweetened edible marijuana items in its new legal dispensaries. Although intended as a measure to protect children from accidental consumption of items that they could consider candy or treats, it has engendered a significant public backlash from both medical marijuana advocates and the general public.

According the CBS, although many consider medical marijuana primarily a medication consumed by smoking, a growing number of patients choose consumption of edibles their method of treatment. The consumables often are brownies or cakes but some dispensaries sell them in the form of hard candies or even chocolates. The position of Oregon's state officials is that these items are too easily confused for non-medicinal treats and present a danger to children.

Medical marijuana advocates have come down hard on this issue, calling it discriminatory to patients who chose to ingest marijuana orally states CBS. Patients who take the drug orally say that it is bitter and difficult to swallow without some form of sweetening. Some patients, depending on their condition, may have their doctor recommend this method of dosage to increase potency or duration of its medicinal effects.

According to CBS News, representatives of the Oregon Health Authority have been taking the high volume of feedback on this issue under consideration.

We don't doubt that the Oregon Health Authority is "taking a high volume of feedback." What's more, we doubt very much that any legal regime can prevent people from ingesting cannabis in a variety of ways. Law enforcement is simply not equipped to go door-to-door searching for marijuana brownies.

The marijuana genie is likely "out of the bottle." Powerful players will certainly use the tools of mercantilism to create regulations that benefit their business models – and in a sense the industry will evolve along predictable lines, with smaller players being bought out by larger interests.

But we would be surprised if it stops there. Opportunities not yet available may soon become available to entrepreneurs who wish to take advantage of them. The end of marijuana prohibitions may also serve to ignite a larger scrutiny of how public and private sectors interact on a variety of fronts. What the power elite has seemingly set in motion may be more difficult to control than intended.

After Thoughts

The Internet itself – and the information available – may prove a complicating factor. Spontaneous order may soon overwhelm the best-laid plans.

Posted in Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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