With no less than twenty states having already legalized marijuana – two of them even for recreational use – some may wonder what the future holds for the country’s marijuana industry. Not every state in the union has legalized cannabis of course, but several are expected to follow the ‘legal’ states in the coming years with their own laws on marijuana legalization.

Even the federal government – which has remained notoriously adamant in maintaining the illegality of cannabis – has seemingly relaxed its policies with regard to banks dealing with marijuana businesses. With all the press that the marijuana issue has been receiving, the changing government policies, and the inexorable shift toward tolerance, it isn’t untoward to expect that marijuana may be entirely legal in the U.S. by the close of the decade.

Some expect marijuana prohibition to be lifted a lot sooner. Oregon representative Earl Blumenauer cited the erosion of a number of obstacles to legal cannabis, among them the lifting of banking regulations and addressing of tax related issues. For Blumenauer, these and various other factors point to the possibility that marijuana may be legal all over the country in less than five years.

Some observers expect the legal marijuana industry to be worth as much as $10 billion by 2018. In states of Colorado, the economic impact of the marijuana industry is no longer in doubt after the first quarter of legalization earned millions of dollars for the state government. Despite the revenue generating potential of cannabis however, the federal government continues to consider it illegal. In fact, marijuana – along with drugs such as LSD and heroin – is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that the government does not consider it to be of any medical use.

Nevertheless, the tide is definitely turning for the marijuana industry. Even banks, which were previously hobbled by the absence of clear-cut government policy with regard tonugs on table dealings with legal marijuana dealers, have been encouraged by more clearly defined guidelines. While these banking ‘guidelines’ do not actually guarantee protection from government prosecution for transactions involving marijuana dealers, it does seem to indicate some attention to the concerns of the marijuana industry with regard to banking.

The federal government has seemingly relaxed a few other marijuana related policies as well. In fact, one of the most significant indicators of the shift in government policy is the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington. But the significance of that event pales in comparison to the news that the FDA has approved studies that would test the safety and effectiveness of cannabidiol in children diagnosed with epilepsy. Other developments indicate exploration into the potential benefits of marijuana in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

All this points to a political, legal, and cultural landscape where there is a very real possibility that all restrictions with regard to marijuana production and consumption may be lifted in as little as five years. There are a number of serious obstacles to across-the-board legalization of course, but given these indicators, it would appear that marijuana prohibition may be history sooner than we think.

About the Author: Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on themarijuanapages.com, marijuanareferral.com, , marijuanamerchantaccount.com and marijuanainsuranceagent.com.

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