As I write this post, it is the one-year anniversary since sales of marijuana for recreational use began in Washington state.
In this very first year, $70 million in tax revenue has been generated statewide from marijuana sales.
Marijuana dispensaries in Washington State have enjoyed gross receipts of well over $260 million.
Again--one state, first year. The projections run towards half a billion in tax revenues by 2019.
Politicians have noticed. And that means they're all in on this one. Conservatives, Liberals, doesn't matter--tax money is the prime aphrodisiac of a politician. So get ready for changes in law and policy that facilitate (and even encourage) the sales of marijuana. There's no consideration, no moral stand that trumps tax revenue and campaign money in a politician's deviant mind.
Corporations have noticed too. Corporations are legal instruments designed to maximize profit for their shareholders. This is a fine thing in many ways, as corporations and governments are the only instruments devised by mankind (so far) that can amass enough financial and human capital to make many of the great things in our world come to be. So many complex things, like life-saving drugs, and automobiles, and this computer I work on, and skyscrapers, and sending a man to the moon. (And, of course, the indispensable Tang.)
But "maximize profit for shareholders" is often followed by "at all costs," and so we face a bitter legacy of broken laws and lies. We face unchecked pollution, and overuse of prescription drugs for profit, and preventable consumer deaths, and workers harmed in unsafe workplaces, and so on and so on. Whatever it takes to maximize profit (and keep the CEO in power), that's what will get done.
And so do you think corporations are going to stand idly by and let marijuana dispensaries remain a cottage industry?
Certainly not. The drooling hounds of unfettered capitalism are already well on the Scent of Weed.
It's only a matter of time until there's a mass-production machine for marijuana.
It's only a matter of time until there's a mass-marketing machine for marijuana.
It's only a matter of time until there's a mass-distribution machine for marijuana.
It's only a matter of time until we witness the industrialization of Getting High.
It's only a matter of time until corporations market and sell marijuana with the same implacable force and zeal as they do soda, potato chips and kid's breakfast cereal. (Imagine the myriad merchandise tie-ins and product placements in movies and TV shows.) And until politicians rake in the resultant taxes and campaign funds, and relentlessly vote for any bill that increases those revenues, regardless of the effects on our American society at large.
And then what? What will America look like when all that happens?