Why you should care
Because, you dope, it’s legal in some places now.
Dude, while you’re vaping, someone else is getting rich.
Now that weed is becoming legal in more jurisdictions, whole economies have sprung up around marijuana. Tourism is one of the more obvious, and as documented by Laura Secorun Palet in the fall, “ganjapreneurs” in Colorado are ready to cash in. And it turns out most of the takers/tokers aren’t rebellious 20-somethings; they’re 40-somethings. Weed tourism has taken off in Europe too, she reports, where down-and-out economies see it as a way to compete with Amsterdam for wannabe stoner tourists. But the regulatory issues are legion: Weed tourism mostly operates in a legal gray zone, a kind of don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Read more here and here.
Which points up weed’s need for a regulatory framework. Here in the United States, where some jurisdictions have legalized pot but the federal government hasn’t, state and local governments have a bunch of bizarre issues to navigate. Like, how do dispensaries pay their taxes if federally insured banks won’t accept their cash? Can a local airport gift shop sell bongs? Is cruising at 25 mph down the freeway enough proof that you’re stoned and need to be pulled over? Shannon Sims’ profile of Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez, aka The Prince of Pot, gets at some of them. He’s in a funny — and possibly terrific — position to navigate all this, as he’s on the record as against legalization. Read more here.
So it’s not all just fun and games and purple haze — despite the fact that, as Zara Stone reported, there are now Birchbox-like subscription services for marijuana. (Dude, could you get any lazier? No.) Pooja Bhatia reported last year that pot legalization in some jurisdictions might herald The Beginning of the End of the Drug War, which human rights advocates blame for a slew of bad policy decisions and indirect human rights violations. Read more here and here.
But, um, capitalism. According to former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, What No One Is Saying About Marijuana is that a whole marketing monster is going to spring up, and it’ll look scarily like Big Tobacco if we don’t do some sober thinking about all this. When the goal is addiction, all bets are off. Joe Camel might be retired, but he’s been replaced by other gimmicks to get kids hooked — like snus and flavored cigarettes. The marijuana industry is following suit by manufacturing THC candies, cookies, lollipops and other edibles that look harmless but aren’t. Making marijuana mainstream will also make it more available, more acceptable and more dangerous to our kids. Read more here.
Photography by Daniel Berman for OZY.