Chris Walsh: Despite Crackdown, Obama Vote a No-Brainer for Medical Marijuana Industry

Photo of Chris Walsh
By Chris Walsh

First off, let me say that I understand your anger toward President Barack Obama.

I don’t need to rehash all the challenges medical cannabis businesses experienced over the past two years. I’m sure you have enough first-hand experience in that area.

As a business owner, you have reason to be angry. You have reason to feel betrayed. You have reason to vote for someone else this election.

But if you really want what’s best for your company, the marijuana industry and the very future of medical cannabis, MMJ Business Daily believes you should cast your doubts aside and vote for Obama on Nov. 6.

We are officially endorsing the incumbent because we’re convinced he’ll have a much more tolerant attitude toward the medical marijuana industry than an administration led by Mitt Romney.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: This endorsement does not reflect our personal or professional beliefs about any other part of a politician’s platform, which we would not presume to comment on or discuss. We are not analyzing the candidates’ views on taxes, the economy, foreign relations, guns, abortion or other controversial issues.

This is solely about the medical marijuana business.

As the leading business news publication of the MMJ industry, we feel it’s our duty to take an official stance on this issue and help you determine what’s best for your business.

Yes, we realize that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is easily the most MMJ-friendly nominee. And we understand why some of you would rather not vote at all – or at least not for Obama or Romney.

But voting for Johnson or abstaining entirely won’t actually change anything. Johnson cannot win this election, and the MMJ community is not yet strong enough – or cohesive enough – to “send a message” to presidential candidates.

As business owners trying to run a going concern, you have to be realistic and work with what you have. And what you have right now is the choice between Romney and Obama. Voting with your conscience and backing Johnson might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. But it won’t do any good in the real world if Romney is elected and shuts down the entire industry (including your business).

That’s not to say Obama won’t cause some pain. In fact, the government’s current strategy of using civil forfeiture laws to spook dispensaries and grow sites is working fairly well (especially in California), and it’s reasonable to believe a second Obama administration will continue to employ this tactic to further downsize the industry.

In our view, though, Obama has been particularly aggressive because a) this is an election year and b) the industry has grown faster than most government officials envisioned. Criticize Obama all you like for the crackdown that’s occurred on his watch, but don’t forget that he also allowed – and even paved the way for – MMJ to grow into what it is today: a $1.7 billion industry with roughly 1 million patients, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 dispensaries, countless ancillary businesses and tens of thousands of employees.

Remember: Before Obama took office, the medical marijuana industry (dispensaries, cultivation operations serving dozens of patients, ancillary businesses, etc.) didn’t really exist in states like Colorado, New Mexico and Washington.

We expect Obama to work to find a tenable solution for states with regulated MMJ industries.

That’s not as realistic with Romney at the helm. Although he has toned down his comments on MMJ in recent months, Romney has been pretty clear on his opposition to medical marijuana in the past and made some strong statements regarding medical cannabis earlier this year. If you think the situation is bad now under Obama, consider what will happen if someone who is actually against the very idea of MMJ is in power. And you can bet Romney will take a harder line than Obama against states that approve the general use of marijuana (which is on the ballot in Colorado, Oregon and Washington).

For many MMJ professionals, this election boils down to the lesser of two evils. You’re essentially playing the odds and betting on which candidate you think would cause the least amount of harm to the industry. It’s certainly not an ideal situation. But if the future of MMJ is your biggest concern, the choice is clear.

Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily.

23 comments on “Chris Walsh: Despite Crackdown, Obama Vote a No-Brainer for Medical Marijuana Industry
  1. Jeffrey on

    I’m somewhat disappointed that MMJ/Mr. Walsh have opted to endorse Obama again when he hasn’t kept his clearly stated promise made during his initial presidential campaign four years ago.
    As you correctly elaborated upon, he has disappointed virtually everyone in the medical marijuana industry and the patients by endorsing just the opposite tact on the issue. Dispensaries are in disarray and patients are constantly concerned about being able to continue getting their medication and also the implied threat of having a federal agent show up at the front door. That was not remotely implied in his promise to allow the states the choice of how to handle the issue. There’s simply no indication, implied or stated, by Obama that things are going to “ease up” as you say. And you also misstated that no states had legalized it prior to his election–absolutely not true. It was signed into state law in New Mexico in April, 2007 by former governor Bill Richardson. Obama wasn’t even on the presidential radar as a contender at that time.
    That fact that Obama has chosen to consciously blow off the majority of his campaign promises doesn’t make me, and countless other patients and dispensary operators, even slightly confident or optimistic about him backing off.
    Please get your facts straight about Obama’s actual actions on this issue, the timeline when several states came on line with programs, etc. Voting for him again means we know what we’re likely to get, more of the same and it’s surely not what we were promised…

    • chrisw on

      Jeffrey – We appreciate your comments. But, to clarify, I did not say that “no states had legalized it prior to his election.” You seem to have misread the column. I said that “the medical marijuana industry didn’t exist in states like Colorado, New Mexico and Washington” – which is true. The business side of MMJ (or the “industry,” which primarily means dispensaries, grow operations, consultants, etc) didn’t develop in those states until Obama was president (with the exception of a few dispensaries operating in the shadows). Yes, those states had already passed MMJ laws, but it was under Obama – fueled by the Ogden Memo – that dispensaries opened up en masse in the first place. Again, compare the number of dispensaries, grow sites and ancillary medical marijuana businesses in existence before Obama took office compared to now. Despite what you might think, the industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past four years (600-plus dispensaries in Colorado alone now, for instance, vs. just a few in 2008).

  2. Steve Simpson on

    Hugh Boy! Still maintaining that lesser of two evils mentality. It’s no wonder third party candidates never have a chance. This is exactly where the elites want you, believing you are doing the right thing. It won’t matter which of the two candidates you vote for, Romney or Obama, the plans for a nationwide crackdown on dispensaries and patients is already set and in place. As soon as the election is over these plans will be set in motion, regardless of who our president will be. Keep playing that mind game with yourself. It makes sense to me that when Gary Johnson garners a good portion of the votes, regardless of his loosing the race, them numbers will be enough to make next president rethink his position. But go ahead, throw your vote away by voting for Obama, or Romney, whichever of the two evils you think is best for this country.

  3. pauline lind on

    the american vote is not about anticipating who will win – its about voting for the person you personally believe will make the best president for america. this guessing game only insures the worst candidates will always win just like they always have these last 100 years. Vote for marijuana, not for more of the same harassment.

  4. Regina on

    New Mexico MCP policy was implemented in 2007–before Obama…if he’d be willing to freeze the federal forfeiture efforts until a full review and current cannabis reclassification efforts come to fruition, I’d be willing to consider him again. In the meantime, I wish Johnson had a shot.

  5. Bud Green on

    As a recovering journalist, it’s encouraging to see online media outlets make endorsements, especially in a time when more print publications seem willing to sit quietly and meekly on the sidelines. Taking a stand is risky business, but staying silent is the greatest risk of all.

    Many in MMJ-land are rightfully upset with Obama, but short-sighted anger should not obscure our long-term goals. The Romney Administration’s DOJ will make Obama-era dispensary crackdowns look tame by comparison. Give Romney some Supreme Court picks, too, and you can kiss state’s rights on MMJ buh-bye for decades.

    Did Obama break his campaign promise? As promises go, it wasn’t much of one to begin with, and Obama nailed it on the head when he said MMJ patients lack political capital. Even if his “promise” were made in stronger terms than it was, who cares? You think he’s going to cater to the stereotypical pothead/patient non-vote when he’s got a tough re-election campaign to win? Please.

  6. William Wigle on

    When all is said and done. I will not throw my vote away. Neither will I vote for President Obama, nor Mr. Romney. For one thing Mr. Obama has disclosed the fact, that he has used Marijuana, in both High School, and College. I believe that the reason that he did that, is because if he had tried to denigh that fact. One of his smoking buddies would have stood up and said that fact, wasn’t true.
    Since he has used it in the past he has to be familiar with the fact of what it is like. He has to know that it in not addictive. It is not possible to over dose on it, no matter how much you smoke It doesn’t cause brain damage or any other bodily damage.
    So then, so my question is, WHY HAS HE LEFT IT ON THE SCHEDULE ONE LIST??? when herion, crack, morphine and a bunch of addictive drugs that CAN KILL, is in the schedule two list.
    The only reason for this is because he has Big business filling his political back pockets, to keep it illegal, the organizations that make big money off of it’s prohibition i.e. Police (confiscation), D.E.A.(job security), Department of Justice( fines, lawyer fees, court costs and etc.),Privet owned prisons systems) Big Pharmaceutical companies (they don’t want a plant legalized that can grow any where, that might cure a condition, that they want their pills to control, not cure) Fuel, and oil companies, and the list goes on and on.
    I don’t want a man/woman, running My government that has big corporations interest at heart. I want some one that has the interest of the people that put him in that chair, in the oval office. I also want some that loves our constitution and our American flag. not some one that wants to change the country that I fought to keep it so the people are free to make their own choices. Not one world government. I am an individual and I want my government to be the same way.
    I do agree with what you say about Mr. Romney. I do not want a man to be running my government, that wants me to live according to his religious beliefs. Because four chief justices are 79 years old and above will probably be retiring in the next term. The next president will probably place justices of his ideological thinking. With Romney it could overturn Wade versus Roe, through the back door, of other issues. It could mean that Marijuana laws would be kept illegal for several decades. and the damage goes on, and on.
    Voting for either one is like voting for the lessor of two evils. If you do that then you are still voting for an evil. If you do that, then you are going to get, what you you may not want.
    That is the reason why I am going to vote for what my conscience tells me. I am going to vote for Gary Johnson, of the libertarian party. I feel that he is the only man that has my best interest in mind. If he doesn’t win, then I know that if the world goes to hell in a hand basket that I can sleep nights because I did what I thought was best.

  7. B.T. Schmal on

    we would all like johhnson or even ron paul but they have no chance. yes the leser of two evils. at least my vote is to cancel out one for romney. at least my vote WILL make a differance. amarters vote is never counted!

  8. Scott Morgan on

    Major typo in this article! I think you meant to say that medical marijuana supporters should NOT vote for Obama. Obviously, it would be crazy to vote for someone who is actively working to destroy you. Please correct accordingly, thanks.

  9. Jillian Galloway on

    Regardless of what Obama’s done, the choice is Obama or Romney. Of those, Obama is the better choice.

    If the choice was Obama, Romney or Johnson then the clear choice would be Johnson. But we’re not strong enough to make that happen, and Romney would be too destructive to let him win. This time, it has to be the devil we know.

  10. Stephen beaty on

    Mr. Walsh, you have just turned your publication into the Chris Walsh editorial look at mmj, whose role is not to objectively report mmj happenings, but to further politicize our medicine. Comments like “no brainer” insinuate that people who disagree with you lack intelligence. I know you have every right to do this, however, for your publication to maintain journalistic integrity you should have someone present the opposing viewpoint, and let the public decide based on merits of the opposing arguments. You should rename your publication ” The Chris Walsh view of mmj business”

    Critical thinking dictates that one should follow actions rather than rhetoric, leaving us sure that Obama is not the friend of mmj. Even his own party (Nancy Pelosi) has pleaded with him to stop interfering with the states who allow mmj to no avail. Obama has interfered with the mmj industry more than Bush ever did. This shows that the champions of smaller government the Republicans might be more favorable to the mmj industry invoking mmj as a “states rights” issue. You will never hear Romney make that public because in this election year he has to pander to his constituents in the Christian “right”.

    I am not a republican or a democrat, I hate them both equally allowing for a less biased opinion, and a more suitable journalistic approach to the mmj industry. Now that your relevance has been muted by biased reporting and turned into propaganda by your Obama endorsement maybe the industry is ready to hear mmj news objectively and address the real enemy of medical marijuana “pot culture”.

    • chrisw on

      Stephen – Thanks for you comments. We are not the mainstream media. We are a niche trade publication that seeks to help MMJ business owners by providing information in many different forms, whether it’s through a national conference, guest columns, daily news stories, analysis, ebooks and reports or, in this case, an official endorsement. The column is what you said, and was more or less labeled as such: “The Chris Walsh and MMJ Business Daily view of MMJ business.” Which is why it runs under the Opinion heading. We never claimed it was anything else. Whether you want to put stock in it or not is your decision. That’s the whole point of an opinion/editorial/endorsement. And that’s why the opinion pieces we run – including our thoughts on issues pertinent to MMJ professionals – have their own section with their own heading and their own style.

      By the way, we are part of a larger company that has publications in other industries. Each of those industries will be affected differently by the president’s policies, and no single candidate is the best for all the industries we are in. We have no political agenda aside from ensuring that each of the industries we are in thrives.

      We made this decision – as people very close to MMJ, as executives ourselves and as long-time professionals in a variety of industries – based on what we think is best for medical marijuana businesses. We intended this to be advice for professionals who are seeking it. You obviously have a different view of who is best for MMJ businesses and seem to have made up your mind. You’re of course welcome to disagree. We understood that the decision to make an endorsement would be a controversial one, and we obviously knew that half the country (and a good portion of the MMJ industry) would disagree with us no matter who we picked. This is a very heated topic and opinions are all over the board. Some people are still wondering what’s best for MMJ, and we shared our opinion on this matter, just as you shared yours. We encourage this type of interaction in the comments section because it does indeed get different viewpoints into the discussion. As you can see, the industry is very split on this issue.

  11. Marc on

    I agree with the Author, Bud Green, BT and Jillian. It is fairly obvious to a thinking person Obama is the logical choice if you do not want to see a major crack down on MMJ consumers and suppliers. On the other hand, Jeffrey, Steve and William at least use some logic though I disagree with their conclusions. Scott and Rob? Those guys are obviously foaming at the mouth,brain-washed retardacans who would not vote for Obama if he lit up a doobie at the debates and suggested farm subsidies for cannabis growers.;)

  12. Smply Di on

    @Stephen Beaty – I think it is very unfair for you to bash Chris. This article is written in the Expert Opinion section of the MMBD. Chris continually encourages anyone with relevant content to participate in this area. He should not have to endure insults just because his opinion does not allign with yours. And to all those who feel the need to write insulting remarks: let’s be professional and offer constructive criticism. It is the “infighting” that has harmed this industry the most.

  13. R Pierce on

    seems to me the “elephant in the room” issue here is the validity of states rights when they directly refute federal law (the Amercian conundrum). Until the federal government respects the state’s rights to govern their own controlled substances there will ALWAYS be federal pressure and further prosecution of the innocent; no matter how hard we work locally (as opposed to “spinning your wheels”trying to make headway at the federal level, another topic entirely). We’ve come a long way since Nixon (id like to hope), as soon as public perception is changed/corrected with regards to the actual/proven medical marijuana facts we will be at the point when weed can join the ranks of alcohol and nicotine. Again, I believe trying to fight this politically might not be the only tool we should use to fight this injustice. Use the “anti-oppressive-government” method of free speakin through mass media; convince a few powerful special interest hit hard by recession to come on board and assist the cause (with agreement on mutual benifits, in essence the opposite of the Hearst scandal), positive stories and facts as opposed to lies in order to change the publie opinion and ultimate forcing political change ). The media’s portrayal of just about anything has a profound impact on public opinion. my two cents, forgive the grammar

  14. Chris Lindsey on

    Nope, I don’t buy it. Obama did not allow anything to grow, first of all. Like him for many reasons, but “allowing” medical to become an industry isn’t one of them. you know his track record, his backtracking and what has happened to many of those who believed his empty promises. Secondly, Mitt will say anything to get elected (as did Obama on medical marijuana), so what he will do in office is a complete unknown. Finally, voting for Johnson is not a wasted vote. Only when our elected officials understand that how they treat us will impact them at the polls can we ever hope to get any help. If Obama can persecute and prosecute us at will, and we turn around and vote for him anyway, what do we really expect will happen? I simply will not vote for a president who stabbed me and my business partners in the back with his false promises. I don’t like Romney either, but at lease he is saying what he will do, and not pandering to the progs. The only solution is an end to the war on marijuana, and that is where I will vote.

  15. Marc on

    Do you guys have a time machine? I just read Chris Lindsey’s comment at 11:49 am PST Nov 1st yet it is labeled as being posted at 6:13 pm Nov.1st ? BTW I disagree with it. If you live in California? There is no denying the Green Rush that occurred after Obama’s election and is employing thousands of Californians currently not to mention thousands in other MMJ states as well. There is also no denying the FACT that a Mormon will do ANYTHING is his power to stop Americans from smoking ANYTHING let alone cannabis.

  16. Chris Lindsey on

    The experience in Montana has been the exact opposite. There was an explosion of business activity, and then the DEA and ATF started raiding. The only person to go to trial now faces a mandatory minimum of 85 years. There may be safety in numbers in California, but Obama has been at the helm while there were more raids in 4 years than there were in 8 under Bush. There is no industry left here, due mainly to the current administration.

  17. Atlas Hayek on

    I can see you are certainly in a tight spot on this endorsement. Interesting idea that the crackdown has been simply to slow down the explosive growth.

    However I would have to disagree with the idea that voting for Gary Johnson will do nothing more than promote warm fuzzies. Yes he has no chance of winning but just like what Ron Paul did, all he has to do is have a strong showing to make change.

    The Republicans have taken the libertarian vote for granted for decades. There are estimates that between 15% and 25% of the US population is libertarian in viewpoint. Yet the libertarian candidates have rarely recieved more that 1% of the vote. Why? Because of this idea that it’s throwing a vote away. If 1 out of 3 libertarians actually vote libertarian we would reach that valuable 5% vote which would put us on a fairly equal standing and end the two party system. That would be an acheivement and I think throwing my vote towards that goal is worthwhile

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