Business: High on Capitol Hill, by Rishi Deva

Many Americans and Canadians support legalization of marijuana and many states already permit medicinal use. It seems that an end to the criminalization of weed would generate billions in tax revenue and relieve the criminal justice system. This is a business column and not a politics column, so I will not wade into the debate on decriminalization. I will say that as an individual, marijuana use is not something I choose to endorse, and as a business person, it is not something from which I would seek to profit. I think that part of our calling in practicing awakened, positive possibilities business is a deep sobriety about the economies we choose to engage in and the effects they have in our world.

For example, there is a co-op store here in Toronto called The Big Carrot that refuses to sell anything containing genetically modified organisms, even though that no doubt limits what they can purchase and make available to customers. Many coffee shops choose to pay more for “fair trade” beans grown by people paid fairly for their work.

Medicinal marijuana is definitely a vast and fast growing business. The state of Colorado is going through an economic boom, in part due to the explosion of start up pot shops. In 2009 Boulder opened its first medicinal marijuana dispensary. Four years later, Boulder now has 32 dispensaries and 37 cultivation facilitates licensed to do business in a city with a population of only 101,808. Given such a massive growth rate and boost to the economy, it is highly probable that the 19 other states will also increase their business revenues through the cultivation and sale of medicinal marijuana.

The question is, is this really an awakened direction for business or government to pursue?

With most of the United States running a deficit government and the economy at what many would say are crisis levels I can understand why a government would look for new ways to balance its budget and inject life into its business sector. Clearly, legal marijuana shops seem to make immediate financial sense. But just as the coffee shop could buy non fair trade beans more cheaply, the apparent bottom line is not the whole story.

For a government to gain income from a product that is currently black market may seem like a good idea, but is it truly appropriate to be powering and profiting from the sale of a substance that is linked to addiction and whose widespread use is far beyond any possible medical rationalization? Could the economy not be strengthened in ways that do not involve taking the money of people who may be seeking to escape the moment any way they can? Could there not be more sober, bright and innovative ideas out there? What about encouraging investment in technology or focusing on rebuilding the next generation of renewable resource motor manufacturing sector? What about finding a way to reset the mortgage rates crippling so many homeowners in America?

How does medicinal marijuana gain the approval of the Senate while the same governing body is trying to shut down the sale of vitamins and other alternative natural remedies that are not associated with addiction or getting high? If the government’s motivation in legalizing marijuana is the well-being of the people, then the government should be equally advocating the removal of ingestible carcinogens such as GMOs, pesticides and food additives, and taking stronger sanctions against businesses that pollute our air and waterways. This does not seem to be the case, and businesses and citizens alike owe it to themselves to soberly ask why.

If legalizing the business of growing and selling marijuana is the best that the US congress can come up with to revitalize America’s business sector, then perhaps holding a position high up on Capitol Hill does indeed mean being high on Capitol Hill. I look forward to the day when sober, awakened business practice is the norm on Wall Street and Capitol Hill alike.

Rishi bio

Since 1994, Rishi Gerald, founder and CEO of RishiVision and entrepreneurial coach, has empowered thousands of businesses. Rishi has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurial studies and a BBA in accounting. He has spent nearly twenty years coaching, consulting, managing and supporting thousands of businesses from new start ups to active global leaders.

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