Now that the production and sale of cannabis is becoming more and more common nationwide, some of tobaccos biggest players are trying to get their piece of the pie.
Of course, with the greed of big tobacco, it seems they are seeking the whole pie, rather than just a piece.
At least that how it appears in Massachusetts where tobacco wholesalers are hoping to convince the state to regulate marijuana much the same way, benefiting their industry.
Currently in the state, wholesalers are accountable for the tracking, delivery, and taxing of all tobacco products. This means that for each carton of cigarettes distributed in the state, these wholesalers get a piece of the profits.
If the wholesalers are successful in their efforts, they will soon be profiting from marijuana as well.
For officials in the state, their argument is sound: these wholesalers already have wide-ranging expertise in the distribution and regulation of tobacco products. If given the chance, they could apply this expertise to the budding marijuana market as well.
In addition to knowledge, the wholesalers already have the infrastructure in place in order to distribute marijuana while safeguarding against bootleggers. Applying this same system to marijuana can help cut down on illegal sellers who obtain marijuana through non-distributor channels.
Despite the positive aspects of this possible relationship, marijuana proponents are incensed that wholesalers would try and monopolize the trade. Rather than making use of an already established system, opponents of the distributors argue that the system is outdated and disadvantaged consumers while enriching the middle man.
Jim Borghesani who led the ballot initiative which resulted in the legalization of marijuana in the state strongly opposes the attempts by distributors to take over:
“The last thing this state needs is another three-tiered commerce system that gouges consumers and enriches middlemen.”
With an increasingly fading tobacco market and an increased interest in legal weed, these distributors are simply attempting to preserve their way of life. Unfortunately, this would mean a continuation of many of the same tired, top-down tactics of the tobacco and alcohol industry.
In states like Massachusetts who have an opportunity to establish a good, new system for legal weed, it seems that marijuana proponents have it: let’s leave tobacco in the past with its history of scheming and lying to consumers.
For marijuana, let’s have some higher standards and a fresh start.