The cannabis law reform movement’s foundation is built upon keeping people out of prison and getting medicine to patients in need. Upon that foundation, we have built a burgeoning industry that helps accomplish our movement’s goals across this nation and around the world. That industry takes a lot of work, from the farmers to the trimmers to the processors to the lab technicians to the budtenders to the dispensary owners surviving despite the atrocious 280E tax law, to everybody in between. On this Labor Day, I want to wish a sincere thanks to all of the workers that make the cannabis industry possible.
A lot of great press gets publicized across all media outlets when new economic benefits of the marijuana movement get released, but none more than the new tax revenue generated by states, especially since revenue generation has exceeded state officials’ projections. Washington State, even with some serious issues getting its licensed system operational, has generated more than $200 million since adult cannabis commerce was legalized in the Evergreen State. Colorado generated more than $135 million in 2015 alone, with more than $35 million earmarked for schools. Thanks to Oregon politicians who wisely saw that cannabis commerce could safely begin, more than $25 million has already been generated in the Beaver State, before the full-fledged adult legalization system has even started.
Decriminalizing marijuana better prioritizes law enforcement resources and saves on judicial costs, but those budgetary numbers aren’t nearly as praised by the media as the millions of new tax dollars generated by legalized sales. New jobs created by the cannabis industry, whose economic impact are probably even greater than the new taxes, fly under the radar a bit when compared to tax revenue, but I expect that the attention paid to job creation will only increase over time.
Too many voters, politicians, and policy makers are under the assumption that those working in the cannabis industry are rolling around in cash, but that isn’t the case for most folks. The 280E tax code, licensing fees and regulatory hurdles are all extremely tough barriers for entrepreneurs and businesses to overcome. Not to mention trying to succeed in a very competitive market that a lot of talented people are entering.
Sure, there are some making really good money, but most people in the cannabis industry are in the business for the love of the cannabis plant and the greater cannabis community, not to just make a buck. Those that are greedy and self-centered get weeded out (pun intended) soon enough. It takes a lot to survive, let alone thrive, in the cannabis industry, so let’s appreciate all of the good actors helping make this industry a great one, providing an opportunity for many people to follow their American dream.