U.S. Marijuana Vote Threatens to Nip B.C. Market in the Bud

British Columbia’s multibillion-dollar marijuana industry could take a “significant” blow now that two U.S. states – including its closest neighbour to the south – have voted to legalize marijuana.

The political consequences of the Washington State and Colorado referendums remain to be seen. In Seattle, advocates hailed the vote as a major breakthrough after decades of effort, although the U.S. Department of Justice could still intervene. In Canada, marijuana opponents proclaimed the beginning of the end for Ottawa’s drug policies – a view the federal Justice Ministry was quick to reject.

What does not appear to be in dispute, however, is that growers of B.C. bud are about to see some of their profit go up in smoke once legal retailers of marijuana open in Washington State.

“The outcome of these votes in Washington State and Colorado is going to be a significant factor for this industry here in British Columbia,” Werner Antweiler, a professor at the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business, said in an interview Wednesday.

Estimates vary on the worth of the B.C. marijuana industry; assessing an under-the-table market isn’t easy. A government report released nearly a decade ago pegged the value at about $6-billion. Prof. Antweiler said between $6-billion and $8-billion is “realistic,” and that B.C. is responsible for about 60 per cent of Canada’s marijuana output.

He said other markets for B.C. bud will, of course, remain. But while the industry won’t vanish, the loss of Washington State in particular will be felt.

– Read the entire article at The Globe and Mail.