Forbes reports on the impact of recreational marijuana on the medical marijuana community.
Market analysts say legalizing recreational cannabis will dwarf the medical marijuana market.
A recent report from GreenWave Advisors shows the recreational market will overtake the medical cannabis market by far if recreational use were to be legal. The report looks into medical cannabis use in states where recreational use was decriminalized, and found medical use dropped.
This report seems to substantiate the suspicion that many people who claim chronic pain as the condition they get their medical marijuana card for are just recreational users finding a way to legally use the drug. The report shows that in Arizona, where legalization is anticipated in a favorable election outcome, cardholder applications dropped by 73%.
Another reason to support the suspicion that many “chronic pain sufferers” are really retail customers, is that medical cannabis spending patterns follow retail purchase habits. More cannabis is bought during holidays and festive seasons.
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How substantial is the medical cannabis market?
This is an indication that the medical market could perhaps be smaller than it was originally though to be. The report states clearly that it is not predicting the medical market will disappear, but that people will be more likely to opt for retail cannabis for recreational use when it is available legally.
GreenWave wrote, “This year’s election choices can potentially effectuate $4.2 billion in incremental retail revenues by 2018, and $5.8 billion by 2021.”
If federal law changed
The report further states that federal law is likely to change to end the current conflicting policies. Advocacies for both sides are pushing to ease the laws, medical and recreational. Medical benefits are better understood, and economic value is becoming more apparent. Most importantly, public support in favor of legalization is growing.
GreenWave further speculates that the two markets will merge into a bigger market, and the end state depends on how the industry is regulated and taxed.
The most common ailment for which medical marijuana cards are used is the loosely defined “chronic pain”, and it might be that recreational users can already buy marijuana easily in states where it is legal for medical use. It can be argued that the market is already merged in medical marijuana states. A legal framework for recreational use would provide more economic stimulation, but is currently less popular.
It seems medical cannabis is going to go the Big Pharma way, becoming a prescribed synthetic, and that recreational use will be decriminalized if not legalized. This will at least allow those who prefer natural cannabis as a medicine to choose it, albeit in the guise of recreational cannabis.