Before there was talk of a medical cannabis program in Maryland, an entire industry of “head” shops and tobacconists operated openly but with severe penalties for selling anything that was not strictly for tobacco consumption only! Selling water pipes and “bowls” to knowing consumers, who simply were looking for safe and effective ways to deliver cannabis, these merchants dealt in a legal gray market:
As time moved on, the situation improved, but the penalties for “paraphernalia” were almost as steep as drug possession. Certain “codes of conduct” that had developed over the years stuck, as a public intolerance for cannabis culture continued.
However, as Maryland’s medical cannabis program begins to take shape, there are revised paraphernalia laws, and a public policy shift that is starting to make sense:
And just like that, it turns out one of the first (unwittingly?) legal participants in Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Industry are the “head” shops and glass blowers of Maryland. Of course, physicians and other medical professionals also count, as they have been able to register and recommend to patients since 2016. But this opens up the rest of the story. When one thinks of the participants in a medical cannabis industry, Cultivators, Processors and Dispensaries certainly spring to mind, along with Physicians and medical professionals. And now, perhaps smoke shops and “head” shops are added to the mental list.
There are a whole slew of other businesses and ancillary services that any industry rely upon. And, when dealing with a highly regulated product like cannabis, even more services and participants emerge. Specialized security and cleaning services, transportation, banking, legal and copyright services, all become players in this new industry sweeping across Maryland. Add on to this the amount of new jobs created within the industry and ancillary businesses, and that is a potential for a great economic boon for the state.
Looking around the country, it is hard to dispute that cannabis revenue is good for states that choose to allow it. Medical cannabis programs are shedding age-old stereotypes at record rates, showing that crime rates tend to decrease, while quality of life measures go up:
And now with Nevada preparing to open the doors to adult-use (‘recreational’) cannabis at midnight July 1, 2017, a whole new crop of vacationers will be able to legally try cannabis for the first time. The tide has turned, and progress is clear.
What does this mean for Maryland? It means that this summer while our medical cannabis industry takes root and begins to show signs of life, our communities are going to start to see new and exciting businesses and services pop up. The green cannabis leaf will likely feature in more than one logo or store-front sign. Head shops will begin to tolerate discussion of which tool for which prescribed cannabis preparation, or tolerate the mere utterance of “bong” or “marijuana” within the confines of the shop. Perhaps your business or employer will take on new clients from the cannabis industry, or maybe your doctor will talk with you about medical cannabis as possible treatment. All of these are positive signs of progress, and all signify a dawning of opportunity and change in attitudes toward cannabis.
There are so many committed people and groups, working to inform and educate the public. We plan to feature these in coming posts, and now work with many of them on an ongoing basis to bring education to the patients, medical professionals, and the community. It are these relationships that build networks; and networks foster understanding through communication.