Why Big Marijuana Will Survive Jeff Sessions

This article first appeared on the Foundation for Economic Education site.

Last Thursday, a new bill was introduced that would effectively end the federal prohibition on medical cannabis.

While I was certainly happy to see this bipartisan effort created, I was also reminded of how frustrating it is that such a bill needs to be introduced in the first place.

Why do we have to ask permission to treat our own illnesses as we see fit?

It’s absurd, and it’s a direct violation of personal sovereignty. But that doesn’t seem to bother Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recently asked Congress to essentially allow him to prosecute medical cannabis providers.

You see, Jeff Sessions doesn’t really believe that cannabis is medicine. And that’s his prerogative, of course. But I suspect the parents of Charlotte Figi would disagree.

Cannabis Works

Not long ago, a young girl named Charlotte Figi was diagnosed with an extreme form of epilepsy. By the time she was three, she was having about 300 seizures a week. And that was with conventional treatment.

Frustrated, Charlotte's parents looked into getting hold of a special kind of medical cannabis that another child with this form of epilepsy was also using.

GettyImages-53228638 Frank Peters rolls a marijuana cigarette during a demonstration in front of the San Francisco Hall of Justice July 12, 2005 in San Francisco, California. A dozen medicinal marijuana patients staged a demonstration in front of San Francisco Police headquarters in response to the police department's cooperation with Federal law enforcement agents who have raided pot clubs in in San Francisco over the past six weeks. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Charlotte began taking the medication, and, almost immediately, her symptoms improved. Today, she has far fewer seizures than she had before using cannabis. The good folks who developed the strain she takes named it Charlotte's Web.

The truth is, there has been a significant amount of evidence to suggest that certain strains of medical cannabis can be successful in treating some forms of childhood epilepsy.

Cannabis treatments have also been proven to help folks with PTSD, arthritis, chronic pain relief, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and a whole variety of other illnesses and diseases.

I don't know Jeff Sessions personally, but I know his quest to deny sick people their medicine is nothing short of a human rights violation. And while the attorney general isn’t the only one looking to continue this violation, he’s certainly one of the most influential. Therefore, his efforts must be countered with the efforts of those who embrace free market solutions to this very serious problem.

Why I Invest in Cannabis

As an unapologetic capitalist, I believe one of the greatest forces for good is the free market. It enables positive change without the threat of force or violence. And this is one of the reasons I invest in the cannabis industry.

I won’t lie. I also invest in cannabis because it’s insanely profitable. But investing in cannabis is also a moral calling – by investing in cannabis, we are supporting the companies making it possible for a lot of sick people to live healthy lives. At the same time, we are strengthening the economic value of the industry.

Truth is, if cannabis wasn’t so profitable, it would be very easy for the war on cannabis to continue. But because this is now a multibillion-dollar industry, any attempt at shutting it down would be an attack on local economies that are now thriving because of legalization on a state level.

Last year, sales from the North American cannabis industry came in around $6.7 billion. By 2021, they will exceed $20 billion – a compound annual growth rate of about 25 percent. That’s bigger and faster than what we saw back in the dot-com days.

The bottom line is, when an industry has this much economic swagger, it becomes very difficult for anyone – including the attorney general of the United States – to shut it down. And that is a moral victory as well as an economic one.

Jeff Siegel is a socially-responsible investor, focusing on alternative energy and transportation markets, sustainability, legal cannabis, and agriculture.

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