Marijuana Legalization May Open Door To “Big Cannabis”

CALIFORNIA:  In 1978, two market forecasters with the Brown & Williamson tobacco company wrote a report in which they imagined what might happen if marijuana was legalized.

While legalization would cause “a period of difficult reappraisal in tobacco company strategy,” they wrote, “marijuana products seem to be a logical new industry for tobacco companies.” There could be a drop in demand for tobacco immediately following legalization, but once the “novelty effect” of marijuana had worn off, “tobacco consumption again rises to near pre-legalized marijuana levels.”

And, the forecasters continued, “Two marijuana-containing products are highly probable: a straight marijuana cigarette and a marijuana-tobacco blend.”

At the time, any scenario of marijuana legalization might have seemed pie in the sky. In 1971, President Richard Nixon had declared a “war on drugs” and, in a 1972 document, tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds predicted only a 15 percent probability of legalization by 1980.