As expected, deep pockets and big business are already moving into the pot business, as they can manage the regulatory and fee-based environments that are already tripping up the small-scale enterprises. What this means is that my arguments against recreational legalization in Oregon are already playing out.
Despite the claims of proponents, legalization will not bring a halt to illegal pot growing operations in our forests, with their attendant environmental damage; there will always be a black market for relatively less expensive weed.
Other states have also created rules that restrict entry into the cannabis industry. This year Connecticut issued four growing licenses that required each qualifier to put $2 million in escrow. A press release announcing the licenses said Connecticut is the "first state medical marijuana program based squarely on the pharmaceutical/medical model."
As experts debate, the results for entrepreneurs are clearer: Where legal marijuana is treated as something that should only come out of a pharmaceutical company, small storefront businesses won’t have much of a chance.
Most of these guys don't have an extra couple million dollars lying around to stick into an escrow account. So they won't open a storefront, they won't pay the high fees - but they will continue to acquire and sell product. Users will doubtless feel better about themselves, and some may actually purchase the high-dollar stuff. But most of the current users are comfortable with their current sources; why should they be motivated to pay so much more for "legal" weed?
None of the claims advanced by proponents will come to pass. It would have been smarter for Oregonians to wait a few years and observe what transpires elsewhere before leaping onto the legalization train. But then, that's not what the Valley voters tend to do. Washington and Colorado expect to rake in millions of dollars in additional taxes. Maybe they will; maybe they won't.