Marijuana legalization is sweeping the United States, but already some are claiming legal weed won’t become a Big Pot that could compete with the likes of the already well-established Big Tobacco. But could it be that China will actually be the biggest player in the game?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, we already know that big business is already crowding in on the rush to make big marijuana the next big tobacco. For example, government regulations and fees make starting a business high enough that the little guy can’t even dip a toe into the pool, never mind jumping in to swim with the big fish.
We’ve already written that regulators need to allow small business in the marijuana market, but now it’s claimed that the market will be smaller than previously projected. According to The Washington Post, Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor who studies drug abuse and drug policy, claims marijuana business opportunities will be “a smaller industry and therefore less powerful. But I don’t think it will be less insidious.” Critics of marijuana legalization also claim that big marijuana will echo the tobacco industry in another way:
“Big Tobacco ignored major scientific findings about cigarettes, deceived the public, funded their own research, and devoted every ounce of their energy to one thing: increasing use for profit.”
But The Washington Post disagrees with the assessment that marijuana will be as harmful to the United States:
“It seems inevitable that marijuana will continue to get bigger, but a comparison point with Big Tobacco doesn’t work. For starters, marijuana is simply less harmful than tobacco. Marijuana’s addictive potential is less than a third of tobacco’s. THC, the active compound in marijuana, is considerably less toxic than nicotine, which until this year was used as an industrial insecticide in the U.S.”
Even if you use the marijuana statistics gathered by the government, recreational marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and even the misuse of prescription drugs.
Regardless of these issues, it’s also hard to say what the overall marijuana industry revenue will be like years down the road. In 2012, the global tobacco industry sales for the top six companies was estimated to be close to $500 billion, although the actual profits are $35.1 billion. In comparison, the marijuana sales in the United States are estimated to grow quickly to $110 billion, but that doesn’t include the possibility of U.S. companies branching out to the rest of the world assuming marijuana legalization goes global.
Interestingly enough, the Chinese consume 40 percent of the tobacco market, so if marijuana legalization in China ever becomes big, it will play a significant factor. But a recent study from the medical journal Lancet claims that Asians consume less marijuana than people from any other continent, never mind Americans. Still, the World Health Organization estimates that about 147 million people, or around 2.5 per cent of the world’s population, use cannabis, so big marijuana does have plenty of growth potential.
But the battle over marijuana may become East vs. West since Dr. Luc Duchesne, an Ottawa-based businessman and biochemist, claims Chinese medical marijuana may be the biggest competitor in the United States:
“Because cannabis in Western medicine is becoming accepted, the predominance of Chinese patents suggests that pharmaceutical sciences are evolving quickly in China, outpacing Western capabilities. CTM [Chinese traditional medicine] is poised to take advantage of a growing trend. The writing is on the wall: Westernised Chinese traditional medicine is coming to a dispensary near you.”
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Chinese firms have filed 309 of the 606 patents relating to medical marijuana.
Are you surprised that marijuana legalization might favor China over homegrown cannabis companies?