Get high, get healthy


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Imagine. It’s 1933 in America, Prohibition ends and it’s now legal to manufacture, sell and drink alcohol and it’s the beginning of a booming industry.

In 2019, the legalization of marijuana in many states and the new federal Farm Bill that will legalize hemp will open the floodgates of explosive growth for both the marijuana and hemp industries that, because of their recreational, industrial and medicinal qualities, will be much bigger than booze.

Across the globe, it’s the same story: Resistance to legalizing cannabis is weakening while more municipalities, states and countries are voting for legalization.

In October, Canada became the latest country to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Uruguay and the Netherlands where recreational pot is legal. Marijuana is already legal for medical use in Australia, Puerto Rico, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia and Macedonia. And in Turkey, citizens are allowed to grow marijuana for personal medical use.

Even Mexico’s incoming government submitted a bill to allow medical marijuana and recreational use. The bill would also permit companies to grow and sell marijuana, allow possession of up to 30 grams, and cultivation for private use. Smoking pot in public places would also be permitted.

In the United States, following the midterm elections, anyone over the age of 21 will be able to consume marijuana in 10 states and the District of Columbia, while 33 states now have laws legalizing medical marijuana.

And following the passage of a law to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan, Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said: “Western and northeastern states have led the way on legalizing marijuana, but the victory in Michigan powerfully demonstrates the national reach of this movement.”

As we had forecast in December 2016, when we made “Reefer Money Madness” a Top Trend for 2017, with countries and municipalities worldwide benefitting from the tax revenue cannabis generates, a clear path to legalization is widening.

That’s exactly how the trend is unfolding. Just as with Prohibition, politicians made alcohol legal so they could generate more money by making people pay taxes to drink it. The same applies to hemp and marijuana legalization. For example, Colorado, the pioneer legalization state, is generating more tax revenue from marijuana sales than on alcohol.

And the other aspect of “Reefer Money Madness” we forecast was the medical benefits of marijuana would increasingly be supported by science and, as a result, more easily accepted and legalized. For thousands of years, marijuana has been used to treat various illnesses in cultures worldwide.

But the science is only now catching up to and confirming what has been known for centuries: Pot heals. Today, there is scientific proof that medical marijuana can help with neurological diseases, cancer, depression, respiratory ailments, epilepsy and other medical conditions. That’s why medical marijuana is being legalized at a faster rate than recreational.

FAST TRACK TO LEGALIZATION IN STATES

The likelihood of legalization in all 50 United States or full federal legalization while not imminent is on the radar. Currently, cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 that classifies it as a Schedule 1 substance putting it in the same category as Heroin and LSD.

Under that determination, it is considered to have a strong potential for abuse and addiction with no valid medical use prohibiting usage for recreational or medical reasons. Some on Capitol Hill are pushing to have cannabis rescheduled to a Schedule 2 drug, which would recognize its medical benefits but still with a strong potential for abuse.

Though this may be considered a positive development by some for medical usage, cannabis would still be a regulated substance and under full control of the FDA, which could impose its own restrictions for medical usage and keep recreational usage totally illegal. The FDA would control packaging and marketing and would oversee growing, processing and distribution.

A more productive alternative for the industry short of federal legalization would be to de-schedule cannabis. Earlier in 2018, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer filed the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would decriminalize marijuana and remove it from the Controlled Substances Act entirely. Other similar bills have been introduced.

In fact, there are currently 37 cannabis bills sitting in Congress waiting to be evaluated by the various congressional committees which would de-schedule cannabis and wipe cannabis crimes from federal records.

What is developing now is the end of the stigma of supporting marijuana legalization for politicians on both sides of the aisle with the polls showing majority support with Democrats, Republicans, young and old people, and even former cannabis foes. For example, Republican Former Speaker of the House and once stanch marijuana opponent John Boehner, who is now “all in” and is currently on the advisory board of a major marijuana company, which also includes former Republican governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld.

Boehner’s turnabout, in particular, exemplifies why cannabis will be a big industry in 2019: It’s about the money to be made.

BIG MONEY, BIG INDUSTRY

In fact, the global legal pot industry is expected to reach $146 billion by end of 2025, according to Grand View Research, Inc., and the explosion in expected revenue will create a booming job market. In the U.S. alone, the industry is expected to create 250,000 jobs, according to the research firm New Frontier Data.

Job opportunities will cover a wide spectrum, including technology, product development, customer service, health care management and more. Zip Recruiter estimates that job growth stemming from both legal recreational and medical marijuana will outpace growth in the hottest job sectors, including health care and technology.

Further, the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing hemp cultivation in all 50 states, passed the House of Representatives in a 386-47 vote. The parallel hemp industry is now positioned to experience explosive growth, exceeding $22 billion by 2020.

Already an $800 million industry, hemp products range from apparel, food, health and well being remedies to building materials. Moreover, in its many configurations, the natural fiber will be recognized as a replacement for a wide range of synthetic materials, including plastics. TJ


TREND FORECAST

In 2019, the cannabis industry breaks through, making the transition from a strong entrepreneurial and small business playing field to big industry.

Medical marijuana is especially ripe for explosive growth.

The number of conditions treated using medical marijuana is growing rapidly, as new patients are added to the market, the demand for medical marijuana is expected to increase multiple folds over the forecast period.

Moreover, the increasing number of companies operating in the marijuana market is expected to bolster the quantity, quality and variety of products that will further enhance and expand the consumer base.

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