Could Marijuana Interest “Big Tobacco” Companies?By: Tina Volpe - March 17, 2014
With Colorado legalizing marijuana for recreational use, making it legal to grow up to six plants for an individual, other states are looking at getting on the weed wagon. Many already are, decriminalizing possession of smaller amounts of pot, as well as legalization for medical purposes.
Sales in Colorado have been stellar, and the state is reaping the benefits, big time. In the first month alone, licensed dispensaries hit a whopping $14 million dollars in sales, and the state received a cool $2 million of those proceeds.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) recently announced that he expects that the combined sales from both legal medical and recreational marijuana in the state will reach nearly $1 billion in the next fiscal year — about $600 million of that is projected to come from just recreational sales. The state stands to collect at least $134 million in taxes and fees.
And then there is big tobacco, with companies seeing a serious decline in sales in the U.S., are forced to turn their markets to other countries, and pushing their deadly fares in China, Russia and India, to name a few. Smokers in the US have dropped to less than half of the people who smoked in the 1950’s. Smokers are becoming a thing of the past. It is a known fact that tobacco kills and as such, many states have banned smoking in any public buildings or structures.
With the popularity of tobacco declining, and the popularity of marijuana on the rise, following the medical marijuana legalization in 20 states and recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington, and at least 58 percent of Americans agreeing that it should be legalized, it appears pot already has replaced tobacco smoking in America, and the tobacco industry would be crazy not to get on board.
With all of this cash to be made from an alternative smoking product, why not? However, when the largest tobacco company in the U.S., Philip Morris, was asked the question about the future intentions of its company, spokesman Bill Phelps told CBS: “We have a practice of not commenting or speculating on future business. Adding, tobacco companies are in the business of manufacturing and marketing tobacco products.”
But one can rest assured, if governments continue to treat smoking as the public health menace it is, the tobacco industry may not have a future at all, at least in the U.S. And as marijuana popularity continues to grow, thereby inadvertently replacing tobacco products, it could save their imminent decline, so it makes perfect sense.
But there is another entity that could take the marijuana boom to a new level, and that is the liquor industry.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board is receiving plenty of applications from people who want to be certified to be able to grow pot legally, even though the agency is not yet soliciting such applications. The agency’s spokesman Brian Smith said Tuesday that some applications so far have come from people who have long been growing marijuana when it was against state law.
“We’re getting a lot of interest from people that want to be producers,” Smith said. “Some say they have been growing it illegally until now.”
Where pot will go commercially is still unknown, but it is bound to happen soon.
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