Even though federal law in the United States still says that it is illegal to use, buy, sell or grow marijuana, the legalization of medical marijuana in many states is catching on. So far, four states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes – Oregan, Alaska, Colorado and Washington.
A further 23 states and D.C. now allow limited use of marijuana for medical purposes, and 14 states in all have decriminalized the possession of marijuana, the only punitive action being a fine or confiscation rather than a prison sentence.
Over the past few years the many forms of marijuana legalization have created an industry opportunity for technology companies, and many of them already offer commercial and medical solutions for not only users, but also distributors and growers of cannabis.
One company called Flowhub has created a point-of-sale software that can track a batch of marijuana back to its grower. So if a particular batch is found to contain pesticides, for example, its movement across the country can be tracked and it can be taken off the shelves in days instead of weeks.
Another company has developed a modified brain scan technique that can help doctors prescribe the right grade and type of marijuana based on the patient’s specific needs. The company is called PotBotics, and the technology is based on EEG, or Electroencephalography, a common technique used to study the electrical activity of the brain.
Yet another company called GreenRush has developed an e-commerce delivery platform for cannabis in the state of California. The company argues that people can order anything online, so why not pot?
How Did Marijuana become Illegal in the First Place?
The proliferation of such technologies can only mean one thing – cannabis is going mainstream in a big way and there’s really nothing that the federal government can do about it. As even more technologies are developed or modified for the marijuana industry – a market that has been illegal for so many decades – technology will entrench itself inextricably into what may someday become a nationwide phenomenon.
Surprisingly, the reason it was made illegal in the first place has some racial connotations. It started with the illegalization of opium dens in California in 1875, more than 140 years ago. The underlying allegations that led to this piece of legislation was that the practices of “Chinese immigrants” were “snagging white people” and getting them hooked on the substance. The 1875 ordinance became what is now widely accepted as America’s First Drug Law.
In the case of Marijuana, it was the “disruptive Mexicans with their dangerous native behaviors including marihuana use” that was blamed for corrupting America, and this happened right after the Mexican Revolution – around the early 1900s – when masses of Mexican immigrants came to settle in the United States.
Ironically, cannabis was already a well-known compound in the States because it was an ingredient in several medicines, but animosity towards foreigners and the cultural changes they brought with them was the main reason for marijuana getting a bad rap. But the worst of it came during the 30s at the hearings on marijuana laws, which highlighted marijuana’s “ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women.”
In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act formally came into being, which banned the sale and use of this drug.
The Future of Marijuana in the United States
Now that the medicinal and recreational value of marijuana have brought it out of the closet, as it were, things will never be the same again. The reason I brought up technology is because of the commercial enterprise angle. Entrepreneurs have found this to be an ideal romping ground for known technologies and have jumped in with both feet. The growth path of these companies will necessarily follow that of the marijuana industry because it is so closely related.
At some point, because of the strong lobbying by several groups, even the states that have so far held out against the spread of marijuana legalization may well relent.
There are valid arguments on both sides of the legalization issue, but I’m not one to take sides. What I will point out, however, is that the wheels have been set into motion, and nothing will be able to stop this from progressing to its logical conclusion. Whether or not you support the legalization of marijuana, you cannot deny the fact that this controversial plant is going to play a big part in our future.
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