Executive summary: Joint Ventures

JOINT VENTURES: Inside America’s Almost Legal Marijuana Industry
Trish Regan

Anchor of the recent CNBC documentary Marijuana, Inc., Regan claims she’s never once tried the drug, and came to her investigations as a skeptic. For the most part, her exploration of the business behind her country’s booming pot industry is cautiously optimistic about its commercial potential in a decriminalized setting. With the laws banning the drug on shaky legal footing in Ontario and elsewhere, it’s a timely piece of journalism.

Canada gets barely a mention in these pages, however. The focus is predominantly on California and Colorado—Denver, specifically, where in the wake of state legislation accommodating medical marijuana use there’s been a boom in pot dispensaries. Regulatory fees and sales tax on pot purchases are already adding millions to the state’s bottom line, with millions more in expected revenue as the industry grows. Marijuana law-reform advocates suggest that legalized marijuana’s boon to California’s bottom line could be some $14 billion annually, between taxes, fees and savings in enforcement costs. Portugal provides an example of a jurisdiction that’s had success economically and socially by decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs. It’s a useful round-up of the economics of a policy debate that shows no sign of being resolved.