May 26 • 05:26 PM
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Medical marijuana presents boost to state’s agri-business

To the Editor:

While the nature and especially the impact of coming political and cultural changes might be debatable, one indisputable economic reality is that marijuana will be widely legal in many states within 10 years. No question about it at this point. It is going to happen. Some places it already has, at least de facto.

Many people feel that it's nothing more than democracy in action as it's been endorsed by a majority of Americans, who have voted to legalize it when given the chance. Also there are some who resent what they see as unconstitutional government intrusion in their personal lives. I believe that sooner rather than later marijuana, a.k.a. hemp, a.k.a. pot will be fully legalized throughout much of the world and will again be a significant and legal sector of the economy in the US as it is today in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and as it once was in this country.

Agri-business will especially be positively affected by these changes. However, in that not too distant future it is possible that the only revenue to be made in Michigan from growing marijuana will be in the sale of starter plants, much as is true with tomato plants today.

That's because most legal marijuana will be grown south of here. Big tobacco firms in South Carolina come to mind, as well as those massive greenhouse operations in Florida which currently provide us with our winter tomatoes and other hydroponically grown veggies. Also, you can bet the Imperial Valley farmers are ready to get production cranked up the minute California fully legalizes pot, which looks to be soon.

And we're not talking about small potatoes here, either, folks (no pun intended.) Financially, it's going to be a really, really big deal right up there with corn and soybeans.

The economic impact will be multiplied of course because marijuana farmers will need lots of labor, will spend considerable amounts on capital equipment and have significant ongoing overhead in a number of consumables. They will require a huge new supplier base. All in all, major new economic activity in a state that needs it much more than any other.

This means that right now, in the spring of 2010, the Michigan State Legislature has a small window of opportunity in which to do something extraordinary that will change this state forever.

Therefore, I call on our legislators to give the Michigan agribusiness community a head start in the competition for marijuana related business by immediately introducing and passing a bill that allows for the legal production, buying and selling of marijuana. The sooner the better for everyone, especially those suffering economically.

As a footnote, I'm aware that current federal regulations preclude the establishment of a domestic marijuana industry, but I also think that the current administration will heed calls for less government and less taxes by completely decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level thereby allowing individual states the freedom to do as they choose. Truly this is a case where you can say, "if we don't do it somebody else will."

—M.A. Waller


June 09, 2010

Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
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