Nearly half of all states have legalized medical marijuana, with Colorado and Washington serving as bellwethers for recreational use, and the US is amid an end to a prohibition on par with that of alcohol. But just how will the Green Rush grow? And why is it attracting some surprising advocates among doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, attorneys, and businesspeople?
Weed. Ganja. Marijuana. Pot. During the opening session of the heady 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival held in June of this year, references to the potent plant were the keynote kicker. An intellectual with enviable wit, David G. Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, delivered an opening monologue that imagined some 250, type-A festival speakers high on Colorado cannabis, enlivening a crowd of CEOs, politicians, doctors, and thinkers with scenarios such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pulling her tempted husband into a car with a reference to her memoir, “We’re making hard choices, Bill.”
But all jokes aside, this international platform—which eventually staged a very serious conversation on marijuana between Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Katie Couric—is illustrative of an escalating national debate embracing medical marijuana and its rapid-fire industry growth. And for many close to the cause, weed is no laughing matter, posing hard choices indeed.
Pot chatter is pervasive throughout the US, whether at dinner parties or on the floor of Congress. In Atlanta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, who was once vocally anti-pot, passionately discusses the benefits of cannabis in his second documentary film, Weed 2: Cannabis Madness. In Nevada, State Senator Tick Segerblom and Congresswoman Dina Titus are championing bills that favor post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) medical marijuana research and protect the rights of legal users. In Los Angeles, former talk-show host and celebrity Ricki Lake is producing a new documentary, Weed the People, which follows cancer-stricken children and the use of cannabis as medicine. In Denver, Tripp Keber, founder and CEO of Dixie Elixirs and Edibles, is launching his latest edible product, Dixie One. And just a 20-minute drive from Keber’s new 40,000-square-foot Colorado headquarters, Governor Hickenlooper is repeatedly quoted as stating that we are in the midst of one of the “great social experiments of the 21st century.”