A Brief History
Nowadays, it seems that the cannabis industry is continually strengthening its position and has gradually developed a strong foothold in the US economy. It has contributed over $50 billion dollars to the US economy since its inception and created about 300,000 jobs; however, the federal government has still not approved its general use. With the ever-increasing health significance of marijuana and the revenue it is generating, it is becoming ever so difficult for the US government to keep its federal ban on the substance in place.
As fascinating as the numbers shown above are, it is important also to add that over 65% of the revenue generated in the cannabis industry comes from the west coast with Colorado and Washington doing huge numbers. The east coast has been on the back foot with regards to marijuana and this is mainly due to its unfavorable legislation and the stigma associated with marijuana in the east. States like California on the west approved marijuana legally about ten years ago and this highlights the reason for this gap.
Step In The Right Direction
These past couple of years the eastern states are already taking giant strides in the race to ensure that the cannabis industry grows. These include heavy political support and legislative effort to see that marijuana can be at least used medically. These are already yielding fruits in Connecticut as there are legislative panels already put in place to handle cannabis regulation, and it is expected to be legalized in 2023. While Massachusetts just achieved full legalization this year and are already working on their regulatory framework.
New York and New Jersey are miles ahead of other eastern states regarding legalization and having a workable structure that would see the marijuana industry thrive. New Jersey supports the medical use of marijuana, has advanced a couple of reform bills, decriminalized cannabis possession, has expanded the state medical marijuana program and is one step closer to full legalization.
It is important to note that to access marijuana in New Jersey, you must apply for a medical marijuana card, and to get this a licensed physician would access you and determine if there is a qualifying condition that would enable you to get the card. Once this is confirmed you would be given a patient reference number and a physician’s statement after which the process can be continued online, using an online medical marijuana card service in New Jersey. Once your details have been submitted you then proceed to pay $100 after which you’d be sent your card.
New York has legalized the use of marijuana medically and a bill prohibiting employers from requiring drug tests for marijuana as a parameter for employment. She also has a structure for taxing those who cultivate it but plans to legalize it fully failed this year, the plans would be reenacted in the new year.
These changes in the legislation and rapid growth of the medical marijuana program in these states have brought about an unexpected boom in the marijuana industry across the east coast. Reports show that by 2023 the east coast would make up about 34% of the market from its current contribution of 11%, closing the gap with the west and the west’s output dropping by 10%.
In the past 12 months, about 37,000 patients were added to the New York medical marijuana program, a rise of 128%. These numbers were a result of the addition of chronic pain as a qualifying medical marijuana condition. The New York medical marijuana program recorded a growth of 1,124% increase in certified patients over the past two years. In June 2018, there were 98,101 certifications.
The New Jersey’s medical marijuana program is rapidly growing after its recent expansion, the state has called for six more suppliers to handle the excessive demand, the market would be needing 15 additional cannabis sites in the next three years. This rapid increase in demand came on the back of the addition of chronic pain and anxiety to qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment.
The medical marijuana program currently has 40,000 patients, and this number is expected to triple in the next three years to 127,000. The dispensary revenue doubled between 2017 to 2018 from $29 million to $53 million.
To better put this growth in perspective, in 2016, an estimated 19 million people in the US had one Opioid prescription. At this rate, 3.8 million people would qualify for medical marijuana based on the state’s population of 19.8 million. If a possible 5% enroll for the program, it would see a surge of an extra 190,000 people.
Interestingly, the east coast also pays workers higher than the west coast and thus, leverage on this to attract the best cultivators, budtenders, trimmers, dispensary workers and best CEOs that the west has got in stock. For instance, the average price a dispensary manager earns in Maryland is $75,500 as compared to $37,500 paid in Oregon. This is because most cannabis experts are based in the west, and the eastern states need to do more to convince these line staff to relocate.
With these numbers, it is hard not to see how the east coast would not level up with the west coast and even look to surpass them over the next decade.
Question for students (and subscribers): What other industries are currently booming? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Booth, Martin. Cannabis: A History. Picador, 2005.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Paxson Woelber, The Alaska Landmine of United States Congressman Don Young as he toured several businesses in Alaska’s budding marijuana industry, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. This image was originally posted to Flickr by The Alaska Landmine at https://flickr.com/photos/145113598@N07/48879154122. It was reviewed on by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.