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

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.