Big marijuana news was made last week when the firm Aurora Cannabis merged with rival MedReleaf in a $3.2 billion deal — the largest in the history of the industry. The merger will help consolidate Auroa’s status as “the biggest pure play cannabis company in the world,” the CBC reported, noting the company’s “supply and licensing agreements in countries as far afield as Germany, Italy, Brazil and Australia.” Together, added Reuters, this merged entity is expected to produce over 1.2 million pounds of cannabis per year “through nine facilities in Canada and two in Denmark.” The news was no doubt worrying to Aurora’s many rivals in the increasingly cutthroat world of commercial pot, such as Acreage Holdings, the ambitious firm that made headlines last month when former House speaker John Boehner joined its board of directors.
On both the bobo Left and the libertarian Right, legal pot has been traditionally imagined as a civil-rights issue for a small minority of stoner oddballs who practice harmless commerce amongst themselves. Yet as this longtime dream becomes reality, its actual outcome is manifesting as something far more aggressively capitalist and corporatized, driven by ambitious businessmen with no intent of staying small.
Already, states and cities where pot’s been legalized (or where prohibitions are barely enforced) are awash in pushy advertising and sleek retail franchises run by competitive corporations the market-watch websites insist your portfolio must include. The approach is paying off — Marijuana Business Daily, the leading industry journal, estimates Americans will spend about $8–10 billion on cannabis this year, ballooning to $18–22 billion by 2022. And this is supposedly an extremely conservative estimate boxed in by our current patchwork of laws — in a more consistent legal regime, another “MjBiz” chart declares, national pot sales would already have passed the $50 billion mark, eclipsing such iconic American staples as doughnuts, Big Macs, and firearms.
[Read It All]