Whatever you think of marijuana, it is here to stay and coming to full legalization in a state near you (or your state). Controversy follows cannabis into every branch of our society: political, cultural, science, health, education, legal and finance.

A quick YouTube search will show you the heartbreaking stories of families uprooting their lives to move to Colorado in order to use marijuana to treat their children with severe epilepsy – more than 100 families have done this. And the economics are very compelling, especially to governments that can use it as a major source of tax revenue. Even tiny Pacific Islands see this value – The Hawaii Dispensary Alliance projects more than $80 million in medical marijuana sales, just over the next couple of years, and just with their 40,000 registered medical patients.

Legalization also means less incarceration of marginalized groups who face a disproportionate amount of suffering. And really, the possibilities of the medical side are endless. We have already found evidence that suggests that medical cannabis can help with a variety of health problems and diseases – from chronic pain, to PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease – and we only have a miniscule amount of information. So imagine when we can conduct more research…what will we find? Considered safer than aspirin, the five-million- year old cannabis sativa plant was used two-thousand years ago in China for treating ailments. Not a single reported fatality.

And just for the record, I actually am not a cannabis user, but I do support the responsible, adult use of marijuana for all of the above reasons. And to make it safer to use, and a safer environment for our children, I support full legalization of marijuana – both medical and recreational. Why? Because removing the criminal cartel element will establish safer use, protocols, more research and information for the users, regulation and taxation. And, there is proof that legalizing does not harm our children and teens – the teens in Colorado where it has been legal for a couple years, report that it is more difficult to get there hands on marijuana since it has become legal.

 

Legalization Means Compliance

If we want the legalization of marijuana to spread across the country, we must ensure that we are compliant, and setting a good example, showing that legalization can be done successfully – meaning it can be regulated, there is a tax revenue, it does not harm the community etc.

So, let’s assume we can now add the emerging billion-dollar cannabis industry to the list of highly regulated industries like healthcare, banking and insurance. Let’s act responsibly to ensure access is restricted to adult use only, and that dispensaries are held accountable and act responsibly in full compliance with mandated rules and regulations, which differ widely from state to state.

 

A Changing Culture

Yesterday’s image of the stoner culture is fading out, and the business side is being weeded out by people with deep pockets and pinstripes. Meanwhile, the annual Marijuana Business Conference is doubling each year. We are witnessing a historical time, with the creation of this entirely new economy and community – so let’s not ruin it by not being compliant.