“Pot” and Profit: A Love Story

It is in our nature. For
every person who wants something bad enough to pay for it, there is someone willing
to sell it to them. The love affair between ganja and greed is almost as old as
humanity itself and, like all great loves, it has had its good times and bad. After
a decidedly prolonged rough patch, the pairing seems to be enjoying a
much-deserved upswing in acceptance and popularity. And, like all great loves,
it will not be denied. Despite decades of effort aimed at vilifying cannabis by
keeping it criminal, it has remained the most popular and profitable drug on
the planet. Now, thanks to a vigorous grass roots movement boosted by the likes
of Sanjay Gupta and others, drug cartels are being replaced by (slightly) more
legitimate investors.

Oh, the investors. It
seems like only yesterday when any news story about medical or legalized cannabis
making headlines was rare and lauded as ground breaking. Now it’s hard to keep
up with the news reports, documentaries and reality shows about cannabis barons
and cannabis IPOs. The black sheep is fast becoming the golden child, and what
used to be a fringe counter-culture is now the favorite target of capitalists,
for nothing is more alluring to capitalism than the untapped profit potential
of an emerging market, and cannabis’s charm is undeniable.

For some, the pairing can
be hard to accept. Capitalism isn’t a four-letter word anymore. The bastion of
big, greedy, corporate Wall Street monopolies—it has become easy to hate. But
capitalism at its essence is nothing more than economic self-sufficiency and personal
freedom. It is a disabled, retired infused candy maker providing for his
family. It is a laid off construction worker building grow rooms and getting
off of unemployment. It is a small herbal oils extractor becoming so popular he
now provides jobs and benefits to 20 people. Capitalism means local economic
growth, tax revenue and living wages, which in turn means stronger
infrastructure, better schools and safer communities.

You don’t have to love
capitalism to acknowledge its importance to the future of cannabis. This
ancient remedy with hundreds of applications, this wildly popular, relatively
innocuous little recreational drug will benefit from clean money’s powerful attraction
to it. Investment will fund research and new medicinal uses. Regulation and
licensing will fund education and awareness. Industrial uses will ease our
dependence on other natural resources and diversify our economy.

Nevertheless, the
relationship between cannabis and mainstream investment is still young. The
conflict between federal prohibition and state regulation is a conundrum to be
sure, and banking remains obstacle number one. Lawyers have only begun the task
of untangling medical cannabis from thousands of laws designed to eradicate controlled
substances from our daily lives. There is much to be done if this romance is to
blossom, but considering the payoff, success appears within reach.

What’s not to love?

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