Across mainstream media outlets, all anyone can talk about is the escalating U.S.-China trade war. As I argued recently, I believe the ultimate loser in this situation is China. But in the meantime, our economy will hurt, with possibly one exception: the cannabis industry.
Unlike so many pivotal markets like technology, the cannabis industry doesn’t answer to China. Of course, opening access to its 1.4 billion people would represent an unprecedented boon. But that’s never going to happen. Like several East Asian countries, China imposes draconian penalties for drug possession.
But in many ways, the U.S. adopts a similar approach to marijuana. We don’t throw people in front of a firing squad for mere possession. And multiple states have voted for varying degrees of legalization.
Still, marijuana remains illegal on the federal level due to the plant’s Schedule I classification. It’s an ancient relic, at a time when presidential administrations sought to control demographics through legal structures. Unfortunately, what ended up happening was the normalization of exaggerated penalties for essentially victimless crimes.
Thanks to the trade war and President Trump’s uncompromising stance, though, the cannabis industry has a reprieve. Not only that, we’re likely on the verge of de-scheduling this much maligned and misunderstood substance.
Cannabis Industry the Only Path to Credibility and Victory
When I look at the cannabis industry, all I see is an untapped economic engine. For decades, though, we refused to tap it because of our collective reservations about a Middle Eastern carpenter.
One of the fierce opponents of legalization was Christians. I know many who to this day suffer severe ailments but refuse to partake in non-psychoactive medicinal marijuana. They call it faith. I call it a mental illness.
During these decades, the federal government could afford to turn a blind eye to the cannabis industry. With so many other viable sectors, it didn’t make sense for politicians to give credibility to a marginalized segment. Republicans couldn’t touch it. Democrats couldn’t either for fear of a conservative backlash.
But with the trade war, this ridiculous narrative has changed. Even in conservative locales, the idea of legalization will come to the forefront. That’s because with the geopolitical conflict, we can’t afford to sidestep any revenue source.
Look, we’re living in a time when the Treasury Secretary is advising American companies to limit their exposure to China. We’re in the long haul when it comes to this trade war.
Logically, this will hurt the agricultural base, most of whom likely voted for Trump in 2016. If he wants their vote in 2020 and maintain his tough China policy, he’s got to concede somewhere.
That somewhere is marijuana. It’s easy money. And it’s money that no American can turn their back on.