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Economy

The emerging cannabis economy

The use of dry herb vaporizers has emerged as one of the most disruptive technologies, according to herbal vaporizer provider NugRepublic.com, one of the largest of many emerging providers that have stepped in to provide carcinogen-free cannabis delivery systems. According to a recent NugRepublic report, the digital market for dry herb vaporizers is “poised to become a fiscal powerhouse.” One of the primary reasons for this – in addition to emerging legal status of cannabis in many states – is simply the fact that dry herb vaporizers overcome the health concerns of direct burning of the herb, which releases toxic chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Because dry herb vaporizers use heated air, rather than burning, to vaporize the ingredients, the toxic ingredients contained in smoke are avoided and the delivery is cleaner and safer.

The emerging cannabis economy is made up both of the herb itself, as well as the associated delivery mechanisms such as the dry herb vaporizers, a great combination given that the latter remediates any negative health impact of the cannabis itself.

Economic benefits

The economy of Pueblo County, Colorado saw a boost of $58 million to the local economy as a direct result of the taxed and regulated cannabis industry, according to a Colorado State University study. The research took into account demands on law enforcement and social services, still finding a net positive result. The report further estimates that the net impact will reach $100 million by 2021.

The in-depth report further notes that concerns over higher in-migration and homelessness were unfounded, and no evidence was found that poverty has been impacted within the county in any way.

Were marijuana to be legalized on the federal level, it would result in $105.6 billion in additional tax revenues between 2017 and 2025, and would add 654,000 new jobs nationwide, not to mention savings derived from eliminating the massive cost to the court system and maintenance of prisons for prosecuting minor possession crimes.

In Canada, where marijuana has recently become legal for all uses, the largest cannabis business, Canopy Growth, is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a valuation of more than $10 billion, with many entrepreneurs large and small rushing to take part, with a rush that is comparable to the dotcom boom of the ’90s, with new companies emerging to not only do the growing, but to provide software for growers to track their products and ensure compliance with regulations, and of course, to provide end-user equipment such as vaporizers.

What are the health concerns?

The fact that cannabis functions as a pain reliever and can be therapeutic in many circumstances is undisputed. That said, it’s not a miracle cure, and there are some health concerns. The most common method of consumption is smoking – and smoke of any type is harmful. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Concern and opposition to smoked medicine has occurred, in part due to the known carcinogenic consequences of smoking tobacco.” The NIH does note however, that while cannabis smoke, like any type of smoke, is implicated in respiratory dysfunction, “including the conversion of respiratory cells to what appears to be a pre-cancerous state,” it is not linked with tobacco-related cancers such as lung, colon or rectal cancers.

While the research supports evidence that cannabis smoke is less harmful than tobacco smoke, health concerns remain – but NIH’s report does note that many of these concerns can be readily eliminated by eliminating the smoke. The report concludes, “It should be noted that with the development of vaporizers, that use the respiratory route for the delivery of carcinogen-free cannabis vapors, the carcinogenic potential of smoked cannabis has been largely eliminated.”

The green boom

Like the dotcom boom of the ’90s, we are beginning to see the emergence of a “green boom” with increased legalization, which will take the cannabis industry out of the black market and onto Main Street – and eventually Wall Street. As is the case in such periods of rapid growth, there is an unparalleled opportunity for entrepreneurial activity, new businesses and startups. Eventually larger companies may dominate, as is often the case in emerging industries, but for now – the door is open for smaller players to take part and help shape how this industry will function and operate in the coming years.

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