Cannabis: Plant, People, Planet, Profit
In the United States, retail cannabis is a $7 billion industry projected to approach $22 billion by 2021. This industry already has over 30,000 licensed businesses, tens of thousands of unlicensed or ancillary businesses that support these, and at a 27% CAGR is doubling in size every 32 months. It is poised to add over 500,000 new jobs by 2020, projected to grow to $44 billion by 2026, and could reasonably exceed $100 billion in size as use of the plant becomes ubiquitous. Most of this not so much by changing habits but rather by simply legitimizing them.
High-growth industries drive the inevitable and incredible rush of new people, business, ideas, capital and innovation; the cannabis space is no exception. Add to this a myriad of important issues related to food, fuel, fiber, medicine, social justice, civil rights, environmental impact and cognitive liberty – and the word ‘industry’ itself becomes incomplete.
There are currently 43 countries either developing a legal medical marijuana program or transitioning towards decriminalization.
The industry is part of a broader movement and it behooves all its participants to embrace this view.
- Business Opportunity: At $22 billion in 2021, the cannabis industry will compare in size to the craft beer industry and the entire chocolate market. At $44 billion in 2026, it will eclipse the entire wine industry and compare in size to the organic foods market. The California market alone is expected to grow to nearly $6 billion by 2021 with the adult-use market expected to represent over 75% of that total.
- Social Justice and Civil Rights: 88% of the 7 million marijuana related arrests from 2001 to 2010 were for simple possession. Despite approximately 700,000 arrests a year, prices have dropped, potency has increased, cannabis is more accessible than ever and is consumed at higher rates every year.
It is apparent that the goals of prohibition have not been achieved.
- Medical Use: Over 65 million Americans across 29 states today have legal access to medical cannabis, known to have ~700 recorded medical uses. While this is a staggering number, plenty of work remains to be done as a majority of Americans are still unable to access this valuable medicine. Studies show that cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol, and legalization’s positive impact on violent crime, cancer, brain damage, marital longevity and even death is profound in communities that have embraced this ancient superfood.
- Environmental Impact: Industrial hemp has the potential to have substantial positive impact on our environment. Hemp fiber is stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long as cotton, and will not mildew. A natural substitute for wood fiber, hemp can be pulped using fewer chemicals than wood because of its low lignin content. Hemp adoption will spur dramatic positive ecological and economic benefits. Renewable, fast-growing hemp is a substitute for many unsustainable products like plastics, paper and non-organic cotton (the ‘world’s dirtiest crop‘, grown on 2.4% of global agricultural land yet user of 24% of global insecticides).
- Cognitive Liberty: The absolute sovereignty over one’s own mental processes, cognition and consciousness is the basic foundation of self-ownership. Any threat to our fundamental right to complete physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual self-ownership impedes cognitive liberty.
Our government has waged a trillion-dollar war on unarmed plants for over eighty years, and we are happy to report the plants are winning.
The business, social, civil, medical, environmental and personal impact of this powerful plant reminds us that we are part of a crucial movement at a critical moment in time. We will titrate our planet with lessons we learn from this ancient and sacred plant; lessons in compassion, compatibility, credibility, collaboration, and consciousness. The spread of socially acceptable cannabis consumption will undoubtedly exert a kaleidoscope of influence on our decision-making, idea generation and business formation as pubs and coffee shops did in their respective eras. Our collective drive towards homeostasis itself will create immense positive social impact. We have an extremely bright future for our plants, our people and our planet as we exit this dark period of propaganda and prohibition.