It is no great stretch of the imagination to say that Colorado possesses one of—if not the—most advanced cannabis markets in the world. With total sales in the Mile High State reaching $1.3 billion in 2016, there is very little to shake a stick at when it comes to this burgeoning industry’s ability to generate revenue.
With a yearly revenue number that contains nine zeroes, the federal government is officially interested, as well as the twenty-nine states that have various medical programs and the eight with recreational programs currently running or soon to come.
While no small deviance from federal law, the threat of federal interaction from the Trump Administration seems to loom most heavily on Coloradans who enjoy the benefits of a well-established system.
Although Trump has been somewhat outspoken on his support for medical cannabis, the ominous words of Press Secretary Sean Spicer foreseeing “greater enforcement” of recreational systems have rung through the minds of many people in the industry.
Suffice it to say, there are mixed feelings from those employed, employing and those simply enjoying. From conversations I’ve had personally, the sentiments seem to range anywhere from “we have nothing to worry about” or “we will adapt” to “I’m happy I can grow my own” or “rec is screwed, so get your med card.” Although Gov. Hickenlooper is widely derided for one reason or another, perhaps for being outspoken against cannabis, he recently stated: “This isn’t the time to pull back on this experiment.” And for once, I concur.
But the future of medical marijuana seems to be in flux. Provided a crackdown on the recreational market occurs and the cannabis industry presses the legislative red button to convert their stocks to medical, what will that mean for medical cannabis?
Will the cataclysmic flooding of the market mean a boost in the number of cards issued? Or will the absurdly bolstered supply outweigh the demand of medical consumers? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for certain.
The most poignant question remains whether such a switch would lead to a strengthened medical program, allowing most people access to their cannabis. I would like to think that a hypothetical cessation of the recreational program would lead to a loosening of restrictions to getting one’s medical card. Not so much as to make a medical card available to all everyone who wants it, but enough so that the businesses don’t collapse from having to short sell their inventories of medical-only cannabis to a slowly expanding market. With so much of the legal climate changing both at the federal and state level, I cannot help but raise my eyebrows and watch with removed concern as we of the cannabis industry continue to commit federal crimes by simply coming to work.