The Economics of Marijuana Legalization in a Changing Environmental Paradigm

When people raise concerns about the environmental degradation that accompanies the fossil fuel industries’ practices of drilling, fracking, and disposing of waste, the answer is usually an economic one. “Don’t hurt the economy,” or “Don’t stand in the way of progress,” are routinely stated in defense of those industries. My question in response is usually, “But how much is the economy hurt by all the contamination and adverse health effects? And furthermore, is it really progress?”

But something new on the horizon may also have an economic and health answer that many would just as soon ignore: the cannabis industry. While cannabis will not fuel our cars, homes, or cities and it won’t help us transition from the fossil fuel industry to alternative fuels – it could help fuel our economy without destroying our pristine landscapes, water, or air as we do make a healthier transition from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy.

Utah is ranked worst in the nation almost annually during the winter due to the inversion and subsequently trapped pollution from oil refineries and traffic. The air quality is awful and is the source of adverse healthy effects with health care costs and lost workers hours probably off the charts. Could the cannabis industry change the economic landscape of Utah and boost it enough to ease the pain of working toward alternative energy sources? Perhaps it could be the bridge for such a transition that is badly needed economically, environmentally, and medically.

“Lights, Camera, Cannabis!Originally published at SUindependent.com

cannabisWhether we like it or not, we might just be living in the era of Marijuana. Midterm elections saw recreational and medical marijuana legalized in Oregon, Alaska, Guam, Part of Maine, and Washington D.C., following the lead of Colorado and Washington. Like federal judges striking down gay marriage bans across the country, marijuana is sprouting up one state at a time. It is not far-fetched to believe the debate will come to Utah eventually. With Mesquite City Council approving a grow operation and taking applications for a dispensary, it is literally right over the hill. And according to Richard Secrist, Mesquite City Services Development Director, someone submitted an application for a dispensary, and it was approved.

I asked him if he thought Nevada would legalize marijuana to which he replied, “Eventually. People are already collecting signatures to get it on the ballot.” He went on to say that he wasn’t sure if Mesquite would ever legalize recreational marijuana, and wasn’t sure if it would even be a good thing, but said that the medical benefits of marijuana are well documented. He explained how it makes sense to regulate the sale of it because growing marijuana for medical purposes is a highly technical process. “You definitely don’t want people doing it in their homes,” he said.

“Telling a parent with an epileptic child to go grow some marijuana at home is like telling someone who needs a penicillin shot to go grow some mold in their refrigerator and see what they can come up with.”

Secrist went on to explain how children with epilepsy take a marijuana oil prescription which stops their seizures and clears up other symptoms as well. This marijuana oil is produced from a type of marijuana plant called Charlotte’s Web, grown by five brothers in Colorado through a non-profit organization called Realm of Caring. Charlotte’s Web is low in THC, the compound that produces marijuana’s psychoactive effects, and high in CBD, a compound believed to reduce seizures in those suffering from certain forms of epilepsy. The plant is named after Charlotte Figi, a young girl who was the first epilepsy patient successfully treated with the strain.

Clearly, this is not the type of marijuana production we associate with the sixties. But of course, it is going to take some cultural tweaking and perception changing if is to be accepted science by the mainstream.

And it is slowly happening, at least in the legalized Cannabis state of Colorado. Out of Durango, CO., 4CornersTV.com, an online video network, is going to be airing an informational, online program called Green Light, that is all about the recreational cannabis industry. The programs will be weekly 3-minute long clips that will cover the diverse aspects of the industry such as growing the marijuana plant, shopping at a local dispensary, and the appropriate dose of marijuana edibles. The host, Erin White Sinberg, uses an interview style format to deliver informational and humorous content each week.

Green Light is covering the rather controversial topic that will be dealt with by explaining the industry, its forerunners, and products in an entertaining and convenient online way. Green Light will run every Thursday at 2pm, but can be viewed at any time on the website after the episode airs, so you will never miss a show and never have to set your DVR.

“It’s a fun challenge,” Green Light host Erin White Sinberg explained when asked about hosting the show. “The Cannabis industry continues to evolve; however, it seems the general perception (think ‘reefer madness’) has not. Our aim is to educate and inform the audience by presenting Cannabis and the industry as it is, without judgment, and also to make the show fun and entertaining without relying on standard, over-used, and outdated stereotypes.”

According to the show producer, Sarah Healy, “Cannabis has become an entrepreneurial endeavor complete with gadgets, paraphernalia, and business strategies to fuel the multifaceted industry. She says that everyone, from college students to retirees, is interested in this new revolution and wants to learn about it.

Green Light is expected to push some limits,” says Healy, “Some will ultimately disagree with the content due to their feelings about legalization, but others will learn a lot about the chemistry involved and about the people holding the reigns, as the industry is largely run by chemists, biologists, and business people, not hippies hanging out in their basements. These professionals have invested significant time, energy, and resources to make the plant available to patients and customers and we look forward to sharing these findings with our audience members during the season.”

While this show is about recreational use, I’m sure it won’t be long before more educational programs start to appear. So whether in our regional neighborhood or in our very homes online, marijuana is popping up everywhere. If you want to learn about the cannabis industry, look no further than the short segments done each week on 4CornersTV; and watch out, if Mesquite will allow a medical marijuana dispensary, it’s not too far-fetched to believe Utah might too. It is a money maker after all, so to those who state the economy is king, marijuana could walk the talk. And it most certainly would bring much needed revenues to Utah schools, all without increasing taxes or selling off of our pristine land to the fossil fuel industry. It’s something to think about for sure.

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Posted on November 29, 2014, in Nature and the Environment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I get what your saying about air quality… There’s room for improvement for producer to consumer… And natural air pollution abounds as well… Remember , the single biggest ” producer” of air pollution on record was the eruption of Krakatoa in the late 1880’s… It through more crap in the air then mankind collectively had since the beginning of the industrial age….
    As for marijuana , the academy of pediatrics has never endorsed it use in epilepsy…and at the ” dispenseries ” here in California….I personally say and audited for 3 hours the people who came and went… All your kids , not one person protein waste ding, apparent terminal illness… Etc….not one! …. My wife started using the “reccomendation ” … But why does a retired md have to make it ? Why is doesn’t any regular md make it? And why isnt there recognized icd-9 medical diagnostic codes that have to be met for treatment? We don’t give penicillin for Ewing’s sarcoma or high blood pressure do we? Of course not! If I give you a reccomendation for opoid pain meds with no real controls, we’d have more ” norco hounds” then we do already… And that’s WITH heavy controls…. We don’t dispense Penicillin at a pot dispensary , it’s at a pharmacy that’s designed to run cures reports, check ID and potential drug interactions etc… The whole idea was poorly thought out and even more poorly executed…as my brother in law enforcement tells me…when they raid a ” medical ” pot dispensaries, there’s always a cash horde( unreported) illegal weapons, and often other illegal substances….I run a pharmacy and teach non-gratis, and I assure you we don’t have illegal weapons , cash hordes, or other illegality going on…
    It was an example of a poorly designed and executed idea…and now we find that upon examination forensically of fatal auto accidents, that marijuana ” on board ” has risen dramatically and is no doubt a viable causation in many of these accidents…then there’s the ” human ” toll.. My wife was ” reccomended” and it essentially destroyed Her motivation and subsequently out family…I have no issue with recreational use, but it is insidious in its nature, and very difficult to get off after years of daily use… Her other md’s never went along with the ” I go once a year for my reccomendation ” md , and one discharged her as a patient subsequent to her using it… The family broke up, and a schism formed ( in no small part because of the above)…your topics are relevant, but it’s always an issue with me when people not associated or trained or educated in certain topics blog inaccuracies….or don’t show an omnipresent view of said topics….cordially, CF

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