Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Kelly N Patterson
Grab your rolling papers, because marijuana may be coming to a clinic near you, sooner than you think! To catch you up, starting with some of last year’s breakthrough successes in the enlightened marijuana movement: New Jersey and Arizona joined 13 other sensible states in passing laws to legalize medical marijuana; 5 medical marijuana dispensaries will be opening in the nation’s Capitol this year (Yahoo! I would much prefer MY mayor smoking pot than crack!); 3 marijuana-friendly governors were recently elected in Hawaii, Connecticut and Vermont; new local initiatives in Wisconsin and Massachusetts have put medical marijuana on the legislative table; after much court-room drama, California improved their archaic decriminalization laws for minor marijuana possession; and even the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs acknowledged marijuana's therapeutic value in their latest policy. But wait, there’s more!
2011 is only 4 months old, and already this year, every member of Seattle legislative delegation to Olympia—all ten representatives and all five senators from the 34th, 36th, 37th, 43rd, and 46th Districts—has gone on the record to say that they support taxing, regulating, and legalizing marijuana. On March 3, Rhode Island State Representatives Edith Ajello, Christopher Blazejewski, Peter Martin, Larry Valencia, and Donna Walsh introduced HB 5591, a bill that would tax and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana within Rhode Island. And this year, both Delaware and Illinois will have medical marijuana laws on voters’ tables.
To add to our 2011 buzz, See Change Strategy, an independent research firm, released (the first-ever) financial analysis of the legal medical cannabis industry in the U.S. on March 23. This report, based on interviews with more than 300 industry leaders, projected the total legal medical cannabis market at $1.7 billion in 2011. Stop! Let that sink in: $1.7 BILLION just in 2011 alone.
Needless to say, this eye-brow raising report made mainstream news: from the Wall Street Journal to The Huffington Post, and was even mentioned in the monologues of mega-popular late night hosts, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno. Yes, money talks! Our economy, not to mention our health care system, could really use some of that money.
So in addition to mainstream America watching the marijuana debate on both CBSNews and ABCNews, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the first national organization dedicated to advancing the interests of cannabis-related businesses, held a pow-wow at the National Press Club, Capitol Hill, on March 30, with the See Change Strategy people and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) to discuss the federal legislative needs of the industry—critical, especially, for the hundreds of small businesses and thousands of employees in the industry.
All of this recent activity both on Capitol Hill and on American television sets confirms the 2010 Gallup poll that 46% of U.S. adults support making marijuana legal (an all-time record level of support!) And just so you know, statistically, support for legalizing medical marijuana has been increasing by 1.5% to 2% annually, especially among Generation Y, so we should be looking at majority support, nationwide, in as soon as 2013 easy!
I had a Pulitzer-prize winning, tear-inducing, heart-clutching, march to the Capitol conclusion to this piece but then, well…I got high.