Legal Marijuana Industry: From Seed to Ash

1 comment, 05/01/2009, by , in Guide
Old ideas die as new ideas are born

As many more people come to their senses in regards to marijuana policy, states run into problems with how to handle and manage marijuana through cultivation, harvesting, distribution, taxation, and usage. For example, in Massachusetts, the police are actually crying about how to proceed with the change in laws mostly because they don’t want to enforce common sense drug policy [link]. Therefore, I wanted to basically develop a simple framework that may help states now and the whole US in the future in developing common sense business model for a lucrative marijuana industry.

FYI: Medical Marijuana
I won’t be saying much on how to pursue a business model in regards to medical marijuana. I think it’s just a small speed bump in the way of total legalization. The problem with medical marijuana is that doctors don’t fully understand marijuana nor do they know how to prescribe it. They may prescribe too much or not enough.

On top of that, medical marijuana does not do anything to address the criminal/black market aspect that the USA’s prohibition has created. As long as marijuana isn’t free to purchase legally, it will always be a thorn in the side of this nation, placed by Uncle Sam. It needs to be eliminated from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. As long as the arrogance and ignorance of the baby boomer generation have a strangle hold on American society, we won’t see that happen anytime soon.

So, I continue this model with the idea in mind that marijuana is 100% legal much like the more fatally harmful alcohol and tobacco industry.

Let’s Go: Supply and “Manufacturing”

Every industry needs suppliers. The Marijuana Industry is no different, obviously. So, who will be our suppliers. Well, in the marijuana world, we call them growers. But, in the regular world, they’d be considered farmers. Just as much of the great lands of America is used for farming, it can be used for growing marijuana. If farmers don’t want to grow good marijuana, there are many nations around the globe that are very much willing to take their place. South Africa, Mexico, and Vietnam are just a few places that can grow good marijuana although Mexican quality tends to be lacking. However, when competition becomes an issue, I would easily bet that Mexico will step their game up in a big way.

We really don’t want another meat packing industry fiasco of so many decades ago. And, we definitely don’t want the “1,001” chemicals the tobacco industry uses to cure their goods either. Look what’s happening in China – lead in toys, melamine in milk, antifreeze in toothpaste. So, I think it’d be intelligent to have common sense regulations on how marijuana is grown, harvested, dried, cured, and packaged in the safest way possible for people in general and the environment. That is, stay away from unnecessary chemicals AND allow for warnings on the package is chemicals were used.

We marijuana smokers appreciate the safety of marijuana. We’d like to keep it that way.

Distribution: Planes, Trains, Boats, Automobiles

Distribution is simple. We’ve just got to figure out how to get prepared marijuana into the hands of the consumers demanding it. Honestly, there’s really no need for any special consideration outside of what’s already in place for the distribution of alcohol and tobacco.

Consumers can go to their favorite stores, or head shops. Buy what you want much like going to a liquor store or “ye olde smoke shoppe” and so on. Honestly, we don’t really need to devise any new plans. Take a stroll in the village and visit the many head shops that already exist. All they would need to do is clear out some inventory to make room for all the marijuana that store will buy.

Nat Sherman [link]
If you’re in NYC, check out Nat Sherman on the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Ave across from the NY Public Library and Bryant Park. It’s a very nice tobacco shop. They sell cigars , special cigarettes, and loose tobacco in large jars among other things. They have very good items in stock for the tobacco fan (and marijuana connoisseur). In my opinion, Nat Sherman is very classy, somewhat upscale, yet very inviting. If marijuana were legal, I’d model my head shop after Nat Sherman.

Law Enforcement: Shut Up and Do Your Damn Job

Hey, laws are changing everyday. The burden on police officers is real. However, with marijuana legalization and regulation, the police have a burden lifted off of their shoulders much like the activist group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) prefers. Unfortunately, too many police officers complain about the changing laws. Why complain about a change in the law that will alleviate problems all around? It really all comes down to the psyche of those that are police officers. They like raiding homes, beating up “bad guys”, and having free reign of the city.

Marijuana is one of those substances that easy to find on a person, especially those who don’t hide it well. Most importantly, marijuana users are too stoned to put up a fight. That’s why police officers target marijuana users. Ask any officer willing to be honest. They’ll tell you, they prefer to pick up potheads because potheads don’t walk around with weapons and don’t act crazy like drunks and meth/coke/heroin addicts. Also, it looks good as far as numbers are concerned. Officers quickly say how many people they arrested but we never know the details of that arrest.

Let’s be honest, would you have more respect for a police officer who caught 5 rapists and 10 murderers or the guy that arrested 200 potheads? What’s sad is the time it takes to book 1 pothead is the same time it takes to book 1 rapist. Police are racking up massive overtime hours on meaningless small time marijuana possession arrests, a burden on taxpayers to say the least. Now that the law has changed, they can’t go crazy on an adrenaline rush, much like a heroin rush, busting down doors and arresting people for simple possession. Furthermore, they have to deal with REAL criminals now.

“We Card” [link]
That’s the program that was put into place dictating to people buying alcohol or tobacco that the establishment expects to see identification regardless of what you look like. So, just as a 5yo child is supposed to be carded, so would a 105yo adult. There are already regulations in place for that.

It’s much better than Billy selling to your child in the cul-de-sac. And, there are a million Billies out there selling all kinds of drugs and they don’t even offer the promise that they’ll card your kid. Which program would you prefer, in the interest of protecting the community, of course?

Pricing and Taxation: Be Easy

First of all, marijuana is cheap.. well.. cheap if it were legal. The prices attached to marijuana today are severely inflated due to prohibition. There is more of a risk to providing marijuana, therefore the price has gone up considerably. However, the prices would drop tremendously once legalized as marijuana coming from other nations around the world already carry incredibly low prices direct from the grower. Let’s be honest, the only reason to keep marijuana illegal is the enormously inflated profit margin. At any rate, I could easily see marijuana having prices equal to that of cigarettes.

Unfortunately, I also see marijuana being taxed heavily. I’d advise against very high taxes. There is still a very strong underground marijuana market. If the United States continues this policy of prohibition, the future of marijuana will become small personal grows in millions of households in the United States making it unnecessary for the many large farms that pop up and more difficult for the justice system to handle. If taxes are so high that it creates a defacto prohibition, the United States will create another black market and not meet the income tax potential of a legal marijuana industry.

Case Study: NYC and cigarette taxes
Mayor after mayor has seen it fit to tax cigarettes viciously. While sales have gone down, a black market was created and their sales have gone up. Walk around the streets of NYC and listen. There are guys selling packs of cigarettes for about $4 to $5. And, it’s very much illegal to do so. People have friends or family in other states buy cartons of cigarettes and mail them to addreses in NYC.

There’s a whole supply/demand and distrubution system in place for low cost cigarettes and NYC loses out on that potential tax revenue. Furthermore, the cost to the city is increased due to arresting and detaining these individuals. So, any benefit created from higher taxes on cigarettes is immediately nullified.

Conclusion: Society won’t change in the long run

The truth of the situation is that marijuana can be legal tomorrow and the only problem it would cause is possibly a few months of joyful smoking in public. I know that’s what I will be doing. And, I won’t say that marijuana will heal the economy or do something epic. But, it will relieve a lot of the problems caused by prohibition, introduce a safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco, and support a hemp-based industry that can provide raw materials to many other industries.

And, that is a lot better than what we’re doing now.

I look forward to a greener future.

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