As recreational cannabis legalization spreads to more states, not only will prohibition fall to the wayside, but so will something else: the medical marijuana industry.
Think about it: when marijuana is legal for everyone over 21, what market will be left for the medicinal side? Mostly those under the age of 21 using cannabis under a doctor’s care. That’s a pretty small market, by definition restricted to those with certain illnesses. Not only are sick people a small fraction of the overall population of the U.S., those who can legally use medical cannabis are a small percentage of those who are sick.
It’s happening in Oregon and Colorado right now. The MMJ industry has shrunk by 40% in Colorado from 2010 to 2013. Medical marijuana dispensary owners in Oregon are looking for a way out of MMJ and a way into the recreational industry.
Of course, some form of medical marijuana will always be needed, especially for children. But medical cannabis can have other advantages over recreational that will help it survive as well, including less taxes and greater limits as far as possession and growing. But, if a state has a medical program that doesn’t have greater limits than its recreational industry or isn’t tax free, then it will have a medical cannabis industry that will be small indeed.
The key for those in the medical marijuana industry is to watch the recreational side of things. If it looks like it’s coming to your state, it may be a good idea to prepare. Many in the MMJ industry will complain, but complaining is not going to save your business. Recreational marijuana legalization is inevitable and it is coming to many states in the next few years. Chances are many of those states will already have a medical marijuana industry, and that industry will suffer.
Nothing lasts forever, and changing with the times is the name of the game.