We hear it all the time: legal marijuana needs to be “tightly regulated.” There needs to be certain “rules” and “restrictions” and “licenses.” As more states legalize cannabis, more hoops are created for people to jump through to get into the industry.
Of course, in relative terms, jumping through hoops is better than going to jail or having a criminal record. And in terms of economic activity and jobs, a heavily-regulated legal cannabis industry is better than no industry at all. But the legal marijuana industry has the potential to be so much more.
An entire industry waits in the wings, one that already has a built-in customer base that numbers in the tens of millions in the U.S. alone. Our focus should be on finding ways to unleash that industry instead of finding ways to restrict it. It’s like driving a brand new Ferrari and then never letting it go above 20 miles an hour.
Now, I understand that after 80 years of propaganda about how dangerous marijuana is, this is not an easy transition for many to make. When a politician says the industry needs to be tightly controlled by the government, many nod their head in agreement. Otherwise it will be the “Wild West” with people buying and selling cannabis willy-nilly all over the place. That’s the purpose of articles like this.
We need to keep our eye on the prize, so to speak. If the legal cannabis industry is taxed and regulated to death in its infancy, all of its potential will be wasted. When will the U.S. have another opportunity to create millions of jobs just by changing a few laws?
Taxation and regulation will be a part of legalization; of this, there is no doubt. The government will get their cut of the proceeds of a plant they made illegal in the first place. But we must always strive to keep taxes and rules to a minimum, lest we waste an opportunity we may never see again.