A couple of days ago, The New York Times quoted me in an article entitled, Providers of Medical Marijuana Face New Fears. The article was on Washington State’s efforts to greatly restrict (perhaps even kill) the medical marijuana collective garden system in favor of a recreational marijuana only regime and I was quoted on that issue:
A medical marijuana user will certainly be able to enter a shop and buy marijuana once the new stores are open in June, but the old system of medical advice and supply, however flawed or beloved, is over, say both critics and supporters of the new rules.
“Prepare for the end,” said Hilary Bricken, a lawyer in Seattle who works mostly with the marijuana industry, summarizing the advice she is giving her medical marijuana dispensary clients.
Washington State’s struggles — and the inevitable comparison with Colorado’s different, smoother path toward retail marijuana — are being watched around the nation, Ms. Bricken and other legal experts said.
A number of media outlets have misinterpreted my New York Times quote to mean that small artisinal marijuana businesses are being crushed and will never be able to survive in the face of “Big Cannabis.” I never said that and neither I nor any of our other marijuana business lawyers believe that.
My “prepare for the end” advice was directed at medical marijuana collective-garden-based dispensaries in Washington State only. That advice makes sense for Washington State because the politicians (with a lot of prodding from the Federal Government) have consistently made clear that the existing medical marijuana system is untenable and must eventually be submerged into the overarching recreational cannabis system. So in other words, if you do not soon get a recreational cannabis license to allow your cannabis business to operate legally in Washington State, there will eventually come a time when the government will shut you down. That is “the end” to which I was referring. I was voicing no opinion whatsoever regarding the future of the “little guy” in marijuana.
But that is not how other publications are seeing it:
- The Wire/Yahoo News did an article, entitled, Will Big Marijuana Crowd Out the Little Guy? using my “end” quote to support the claim the following claim: “As more states move to legalize marijuana and seek tax and other economic benefits from the drug, small-scale artisanal marijuana growers are being squeezed out. Welcome to the days of Big Marijuana.”
- In Small Marijuana Stores Being Ran Out As More States Legalize Headlines and Global News used my quote to help support the same claim that “artisanal marijuana growers are being squeezed out.”
- In Small-Scale Artisanal Growers Fear of being Driven out of Business, Top News makes the same claim.
- In As Legal Marijuana Spreads, Will Big Business Muscle Out Small Providers? AllGov.com quotes me as not being optimistic about my clients’ future.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
To clarify, there is a difference between medical and artisanal and there is a difference between what is happening to MMJ in Washington State and what is happening in the various other cannabis regimes around the country. And though we do believe the future for medical marijuana collective garden dispensaries (only) is grim in Washington State, we strongly believe that the future for artisinal cannabis businesses is incredibly strong in most states in which marijuana is legal and will be legal.
In addition to representing cannabis businesses, we also represent artisinal alcohol producers and we see the marijuana industry as eventually going the way of the beer and wine and spirits industry, where there will be a handful of really huge players on the one hand and a ton of smaller (mostly regional) players on the other hand. The entire Canna Law team and I are incredibly optimistic about our clients’ futures, both our large clients and our small clients, other than those of our clients in the medical cannabis industry in Washington State who are not also in line for a recreational marijuana license.
In other words, we see a very bright future for all sizes of cannabis businesses.
How do you see our industry developing?