As the New Year holiday approaches, conversations I have been having with friends almost always turn to 2011 questions and projections about the marijuana industry. What will 2011 have in store for marijuana? Will the political climate be friendly, or ruthless? Will the market see more innovations, or will supply and demand get too far out of balance? Will law enforcement go after real crime, or will they increase raids and busts?
The legislative climate is murky for 2011. It’s an off year for the election cycle, so only special elections will be held in states across the nation. It’s unlikely that anything dealing with marijuana would come up for any votes for citizens. However, state legislatures and the feds will be working on legislation (in theory…bums) during 2011, and it’s likely that marijuana will come up for debate. The first thing to look at is obviously at the top at the White House.
President Obama rocked the marijuana world in late 2009 when he issued the now infamous ‘medical marijuana memo’ declaring that the feds would not go after states and their patients/caregivers if everyone was in compliance with state laws. While it was very symbolic, and ushered in a new era in marijuana policy in America, it was far from a set in stone law that people could look to for legal protection. One only needs to search for medical marijuana raids online to see that the memo is really only good for toilet paper.
People have often pointed out that it could all go away with another declaration. With the way Obama has been bending over for conservatives lately in anticipation of their impending Congressional arrivals, it wouldn’t be insane to think that his memo could go out the window. If raids are still going on with the memo in place, imagine what it would be like if it didn’t exist at all…Bush era anyone?
The United States Drug Czar recently stated that the rise in teen marijuana use is directly linked to the rise in medical marijuana in America . As a medical marijuana patient and grower, I know I’m worried that this closet neo-con is going to align with other neo-cons in the new Congress and try to go on a war path. I just hope that there are enough politicians left that will stand up and fight, but I won’t hold my breath.
Something that I think is significant is the recent emergence of the feds using tax policy to go after medical marijuana at the state level. All federal taxing and spending legislation originates in the United States House of Representatives, and as anyone who followed the 2010 election knows, it is very conservative now. Will we see some type of tax related, anti-medical marijuana legislation come through? Or at the very least, will we see a ramped up effort to enforce the current tax policy that prohibits dispensaries from paying taxes on cannabis purchases and sales ?
At the state level, there is quite a bit of activity to bring more advances in medical marijuana and decriminalization. More states are considering initiatives, and state legislatures are considering bringing about changes the old fashioned way via at their state capitals. Obviously initiatives will have to wait until 2012 to get an official vote, but 2011 is a great year to organize early and lay the ground work for the 2012 general. From what I can gleam from my e-mail inbox, I am happy to report that there are SEVERAL states doing exactly that.
Putting the political climate aside, what will the market itself be like in 2011? If there is one thing that is for sure right now, it’s that there is a LOT of marijuana on the West Coast. If you talk to anyone that is working at the street level, they will usually get a really fearful look in their face when they tell you that sales have been slower this Fall than any other time in their career. Most people know why, but for those of you that don’t, here’s the scoop:
There are more medical marijuana growers than ever before. Due to people losing their jobs in the economy, there are more underground growers than ever before as well. As a result, there is an estimated 3 to 5 times more marijuana on the West Coast than there are people to consume it. As with any business, when supply is 3 to 5 times higher than demand, prices drop, sales dwindle, and there will be a very sluggish industry until the flood ends. When will the flood end you ask? My prediction is never. There will continue to be more and more growers entering the scene, and with them, more and more product.
2011 will usher in a new era in marijuana sales, where most people grow their own, and only the best of the best will actually be exchanged for dollars. This won’t occur everywhere obviously (my cousins in Idaho are like ‘where is the chronic???’), but on the West Coast and other medical marijuana states, this will be the new trend. I’m sure there are those that will disagree, but I invite those people to check back on this article on December 31, 2011 and try to tell me I’m wrong. I guarantee these same people will invest their entire summers growing gardens, just to find out that no one wants to buy it next fall because they are also sitting on a huge pile of reefer.
What will law enforcement be like in 2011? Will law enforcement finally get a clue, and start going after real crime? With the rise of decriminalization, they will be forced to whether they like it or not. Also, with new legislation being approved to ramp up efforts against cartel grow operations on public lands, hopefully they will start focusing their efforts in that direction, instead of busting ‘Tommy Ten Sack.’ However, as long as law enforcement can do whatever they want with little to no oversight or repercussions, I’d imagine they will try to go on their own personal crusade against mj, regardless of what the will of the people wants. The best way to fight this activity is to keep overgrowing the government and thereby sticking it to law enforcement…they can’t bust us all!
One thing that I will predict for 2011 is that there will be a buffet of marijuana for the entry level consumer. My uncle purchases a quarter of mj a week, as he has for probably the last decade or longer. He is always so excited to show me the variety and quality of nugs that he is getting at rock bottom prices. For those consumers that are operating at this level, it has never been a better time to be a toker! I know probably 100 people that I can get 25 dollar eighths from, all of it top shelf. This will only get better in 2011. Will we see the sub 20 dollar eighth of super chronic in Oregon?? I sure hope so!!!