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Monday, November 4, 2013

10 Billion Rea$ons Why Politicians Are Interested In Marijuana

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 2:20 PM

click to enlarge Only thing sweeter than good polling
  • Only thing sweeter than good polling

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom has a story he likes to tell every time he mentions marijuana, which, as of late, is fairly often.

As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom wasn't keen on legal weed and opposed Proposition 19. But after he became California lieutenant governor, he had an epiphany and became a born-again lover of legalization -- yet couldn't get anyone in the media to care (until he went and told the New York Times, which put the story on the front page of the national edition).

Like all good yarns, it's mostly bullshit.

Like now-Attorney General Kamala Harris, Newsom's reticence on legalization came at a time when he was a San Francisco liberal running for higher office in California and needed to court moderates and law enforcement. But a study released today reveals a very convenient truth that could bury even fears of being soft on crime: legal weed is a market that could be worth $10 billion by 2018.

It's clear that the winds, tides and perhaps even the curvature of the earth has changed in America when it comes to marijuana. Every major polling firm has released results that say a clear majority of Americans want an end to the war on weed.

This was before Colorado and Washington beat California to the punch making reefer legal a year ago. Now, with that kind of momentum, legalization advocates are predicting adults will be puffing away under protection of the law in 14 states in the next five years.

That may seem a bit sanguine, considering how hard it's been in supposedly pot-happy California to regulate even medical marijuana. Nonetheless, an investor group of marijuana businessmen headed by a former Wells Fargo executive says that the American marijuana industry was worth $1.43 billion in 2013 -- and it's a number that will only grow.

Colorado and Washington alone will account for nearly $900 million in marijuana sales in 2014, predicts ArcView Group's Steve Berg, the ex-Wells Fargo managing director who authored the report on pot's rosy market future.

That $1.43 billion will grow 64 percent to over $2.34 billion next year, and could grow to over $10 billion by 2018 -- especially if half the country legalizes weed as the report hopes.

And California? Even with a patchwork of conflicting local regulation, there's $980 million in sales in the state per year. That may be low -- there was more than $1 billion in sales in 2009-2010, according to NORML, back before cities like the state's third largest, San Jose even had dispensaries.

Of course, this report is made by marijuana businessmen, and is for sale -- for $475 -- by marijuana businessmen, who have every incentive to exaggerate. However, the point is made: this is very, very big business, and no politician lasts long that dismisses the market.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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