Begun, These Marijuana Wars Have

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 6 2012 11:40 PM

Begun, These Marijuana Wars Have

The marijuana legalization initiative that seems to have passed today in Colorado (and a similar one that may well pass in Washington as well) is, I think, a bigger deal than people realize. Unlike jurisdictions that have "decriminalized" marijuana, this aims to create a genuine honest-to-God legal marijuana industry. It goes even beyond what the Netherlands has done, where small scale marijuana retailing is permitted but large-scale production and wholesaling is really existing in a gray area.

In principle, a true legal marijuana regime could be a totally revolutionary situation. Imagine amber waves of pot and big factories drying and packaging the joints just as in the heyday of the cigarette industry.

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But before you buy land to start your marijuana farm, note that the drug is still illegal in the United States of America and that Colorado is one of the United States of America. Consequently, if you try to set up a large-scale pot business you're liable to get busted by the DEA. So expect a lot of clashes around this and a sticky situation for the Obama administration.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.