Now that the floodgates of legal marijuana have been opened in Colorado, it seems a lot of the stigma has lifted from cannabis, seemingly overnight — so much so that mainstream publications such as the Washington Post are not just covering it using quirky puns and pictures of hippies in tie dye shirts getting high at smoke outs, but they are giving out valid information for the other half of Americans who either have not yet been convinced or just haven’t heard enough about it to advocate for its re-legalization.
Ultimately, how the media frames any story is either a reflection of public opinion, or a strong-armed attempt to shape it. Using social media, communication and organization has simplified, propelling the movement to the point it is at today — legal recreational sales, at least in two states.
Americans everywhere eagerly watched the news, particularly out of Denver, where sales open to tourists as well as Colorado state residents generated massive lines outside of the few legal shops open to take the business.
The excitement was felt nationwide, mostly because legal sales represent viable economic opportunity in the eyes of many.
While not enough time has passed to accurately predict either the federal response or how these few shops will shape the national industry standard, the excitement out of Denver yesterday was more than historic, it was the best economic story of the new millennium.
During the 2012 Super Bowl, Budweiser aired a commercial celebrating the end of the federal prohibition on alcohol. Watching the news out of Colorado yesterday felt a lot like that. For all its ills, most everyone agrees legal alcohol is better than illegal alcohol, because laws dictating personal choice are widely unpopular and out of sync with purist Constitutional ideology. Surely though, even the most socially conservative of Americans would agree that Prohibition was dangerous and irresponsible.
So what happens next? The federal government may or may not enforce federal law in Colorado, but the excitement marijuana is causing today is indicative that the industry is here to stay and that we are (hopefully) truly seeing the end of the war on cannabis and the beginning of the ushering in of the free market, the great economic equalizer.
As many patients become consumers, we need remember that we have the most power in a corporatacracy—wherever we decide to overdraw our bank accounts and max out our credit cards is our choice, that’s what the free market is all about. If the Feds stick to their promise and stay out of Colorado, we might just see the industry truly develop and flourish beyond the grey market it exists in today.
By supporting dispensaries that don’t price gouge medical patients in pursuit of recreational hype money and by refusing to vote for any politician who supports continued prohibition of cannabis in any of its forms, the patients and the consumers can dictate where they want to see this new industry go.
Because it is so new, it has yet to be shaped, and that is exciting economic news for all Americans because a legal market won’t just provide jobs growing and selling marijuana but in real estate, advertisement, restaurants and recreation, manufacturing, entertainment and investment — just to name a few. A legal cannabis market is imperative to economic stability in the 21st century.
The legalized cannabis market — including medical marijuana, hemp and recreational use products — will without a doubt be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, economic boon the United States has seen since World War II.
The medical marijuana movement got its start in the counterculture, and will probably always retain an identity with it, so don’t expect to see the tie dye disappear anytime soon. The mainstream, however, has finally caught on as well. The people are convinced, the media is convinced, it is time our government change federal policy and allow the market to flourish and the economy to truly grow. Pun intended.