Unexpected industries grow from legalization

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We've all heard the arguments about legalizing marijuana and made them ourselves. It will lead to the use of harder drugs, it isn't worth the social consequences.

It's not as bad as alcohol -- a view shared by President Obama, who definitely inhaled it during his youth, but tells his daughters now that it's a "waste of time."

It will create new sources of revenue for local governments, leave room in prisons for more dangerous felons and free up law enforcement resources to deal with more serious crimes.

It's too early to speculate what the consequences of recreational marijuana use will be -- other than level the playing field in Sunday's "Stoner Bowl" between Denver and Seattle.

In recent days, however, we noticed a couple of sprouting industries most of us hadn't thought of.

One is the appearance of marijuana listings in the stock market, totaling about 35 and worth about $5.5 billion.

They're probably not something you would like to invest your IRA in, although some have soared 1,700 percent in recent weeks.

Like all new, low-priced segments of the market, they tend to attract shady characters and are not something you want to own if you have a low threshold for drama.

If you want to get more involved than just owning stocks, a new Colorado-based tour operator is offering "luxury cannabis tours" to the Rocky Mountain state.

The company says its high-end tours are "created in the same spirit as an exclusive Napa Valley wine vaction" and offer participants to "learn more about a fascinating cult industry that has been repressed and contained for decades."

They'll also throw in stays in a five-star hotel, fine dining and excursions to other conventional Colorado activities.

Who knows what's next? More legal "paraphernalia" and retail shops? Smoke-shrouded night clubs (but how would that mesh with anti-smoking laws?).

As the young folk singer who once introduced marijuana to his four new friends from England once wrote, "the times they are a-changin'."

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