As a relic of the 1960s, I take more than a passing interest in the progression of marijuana in the lives of Americans. Thus, a wedding trip to Colorado starts with a visit to the local dispensary. It turns out that some of my fellow relic attendees began their sojourn with a stop at a Mary Jane shop. Even though a few bought for medicinal purposes, marijuana is big business in Colorado, so much so that it is consumed primarily for recreational use. Or is it?
There’s a New Sheriff in Town
Pondering this question, I thought about the fact that major cigarette producers are poised to sweep into the weed trade just as soon as the federal government gives the country the Green light. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been acquired in anticipation of nationwide legalization.
In 1970, a Philip Morris employee issued an internal memo, which offered the company’s mission:
We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pick up for people who are bored or depressed. The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying those needs. We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pick up for people who are bored or depressed. The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying those needs….”
There He Goes Again
Fast forward through the cigarette commercials. It is now 2018. Philip Morris has filed for patents on Pakalolo. developing a pot inhaler. Vaping is overtaking smoking as a delivery system for nicotine, THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis plants, and CBD, (cannabidiol), a second organic compound that delivers non psychoactive effects. It’s the CBD that delivers the mellow, sleep-inducing and pain-reducing qualities.
There is yet another big player in the Bhang business, and that is the liquor industry. Like cigarette and prescription drug manufacturers, alcohol producers have a beat-them-or-join-them relationship with reefer. The beer industry ran a study that concluded that there was a 15% loss of sales in states where recreational use was legalized. They also see the Sticky Wicky as a rival for their market.
Constellation Brands, makers of Corona Beer and Svedka Vodka, bought a 10% stake in Canopy, another producer working the Canadian market. They are in the midst of trying to develop a marijuana beverage. Canopy trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Its ticker is WEED. Several makers have held the line against legalizing marijuana use, but it’s more likely that one day you’ll see weed beers in supermarkets.
The first step in bringing pot to market was its legalization for the treatment of certain conditions, such as glaucoma, and as an anti-nausea drug, helpful for patients receiving chemotherapy. Dispensaries popped up in states legalizing medical use. The early versions were affiliated with medical professionals who met with a patient, rendered a diagnosis and wrote up a scrip for some ganja relief. The business tie of the doctor to the stoner created some creative and funny marketing ideas.
When marijuana’s use to treat muscle spasm and generalized pain was officially recognized, the game was afoot. Prescriptions came flying out of medical offices. Naturally, many patients were gaming the system, like the woman who tried tobring a service peacock on a United Airlines flight.
Approval of reefer for recreational use more or less ended the need for a subterfuge to buy it openly. A handful of states has approved the sale for recreational use, dear Colorado and Washington, being the first, in 2012.
When the Colorado visitors met at the Boulder wedding party, several exchanged their stories. One had gotten some baked goods for fun, but said it also reduced her anxiety level. Another guest coming off serious surgery supplemented her prescribed pain killers with a gummy bear. Yet another bought some herb for fun– and back pain. Yet another partied hardy on chocolate bars, which also relieved eye pressure.
The most common over the counter use is for relaxation and anxiety relief. People now taking anti-anxiety medicines claim to achieve good results without losing the ability to function. There are preparations available especially for use at work. Mondo sells marijuana in powdered form, especially to take to the office. When’s the next coffee break?
With alcohol, Pharma and the tobacco industry converging on the marijuana market, how could our pro-business President resist approval of national legalization — especially if they’ve generously donated to one of his Super-Pacs?