Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Medical Marijuana: The Three Issues To Consider

I didn't think I was a conservative, but all this talk about medical marijuana, grow lights and garden centers has me squirming in my chair. I've probably been to more Dave Matthews Band concerts than the average person, but I'm still nervous Googling "medical marijuana" on my work computer. What will the IT department think?

You've probably heard by now that Scotts wants to target the pot market, This news, combined with all the talk about hydroponic production has generated a lot of discussion at our office. Should we cover hydroponics?

Our readers have shared their opinions with us. A few retailers say they sell supplies on the downlow. One said that when customers ask for grow lights, staff is told to say, "According to federal law, we cannot sell supplies related to or give advice related to the production of marijuana. We do carry a variety of equipment and supplies that can be used for indoor gardening, which I would be happy to show you."

Growers responses have been more varied, positive to negative, everything from the gateway drug argument to the other uses of marijuana (hemp) and the extremely lucrative nature of the marijuana business.

It seems to me that there are three issues with selling marijuana supplies or marketing to that niche:

1. The legal issue. Some states and the federal government are still at odds over legalization, and I can't imagine I'd want my business tangled up in it. 

2. The moral issue. You may consider this the first issue, actually, whether you think marijuana use is a bad idea or a relief for chemotherapy, glaucoma and AIDS patients.

3. The business issue. If you stock these products, is it a good business for you? A commenter on our site says it actually brings buyers into the store. What I do like about the stance that Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn has taken is that he's thinking differently -- about new products, new markets, evolution. In the Wall Street Journal article, Hagedorn said:
In the past, Scotts wouldn't have considered pursuing businesses or product lines that generated less than $10 million a year in revenue. But, Mr. Hagedorn said, "We can't operate our business like that anymore."
Here's a question for you: If it wasn't possible to grow your own medical marijuana, would this whole situation be different? It will never be a controlled substance, not that controlled substances ever truly are. If you could grow oxycodone in your backyard, it might be illegal instead of controlled.

I don't know where I stand on this issue. The older I get, the bigger the gray area of the world gets. What would happen if marijuana was made legal? Amsterdam still hasn't burned to the ground. And while I know that Europeans and Americans are very different, it's another good question to ask yourself. What would America be like if marijuana were legalized? If this were a cut and dry issue, it wouldn't be controversial. Your thoughts in the comments.

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