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Colorado’s New Cannabis Economy

February 20, 2014
open signRyan McMaken writes in today's Mises Daily:
Amendment 64, with all its language covering “equipment, products, [and] materials,” hints at the economic complexity that has always existed behind recreational drugs, but which now, in a limited case in a limited jurisdiction, has emerged from the black market and underground operations into the light of the larger marketplace. The cannabis market is not simply a matter of putting some leaves in small bags. The new legal market, instead, is a market with far better quality control and accountability on the part of merchants. And it means economic growth for many industries that have never traditionally been connected with recreational drugs. Supporting the cannabis merchants are a wide variety of enterprises from distribution warehouses to financial institutions, attorneys, short-haul truckers, and more. The new demand for commercial real estate to serve the needs of both producers and retail outlets has created a need for real estate brokers who can specialize in the cannabis industry, while attorneys assist with the drafting of legal documents, and accountants must be hired to keep track of the money. Unfortunately, many of these industries must continue to be wary of federal law, even when state law is clear on the matter. Banks, specifically, which are regulated at the federal level, only recently were given the green light by federal regulators to open accounts for cannabis-related businesses. The legality of this sort of banking remains on shaky ground, however, and many banks remain loath to participate, thus crippling the financial and banking opportunities for the cannabis industry in Colorado and Washington.

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