Sniff-sniff-sniff, is that the pungent kushie smell of progress? This cannot be true, my eyes and ears must be deceiving me.
“I want to target the pot market, there’s no good reason we haven’t.” Do you have any idea who said this? It was Jim Hagedorn, the CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. He made this statement a few days ago during an interview with The Wall Street Journal. SMG (NYSE) is a $3 Billion publicly traded lawn care company that generates 60 to 70% of its revenue from sales to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of suburban lawns and the chemicals that are put on them. I believe all lawns — not used for physical activities — should be converted to edible gardens. However, I must applaud Mr. Hagedorn for his boldness in making this statement. Nutrient providers and grow equipment manufacturers do not explicitly say that their products are used for medical cannabis out of fear of drawing attention from the Feds. The federal government regulates interstate commerce, and business activity related to marijuana is federally illegal no matter what an individual state’s laws may be. So, Mr. Hagedorn deserves some kudos for his remarks.
No doubt, it is in SMG’s best financial interest to get into this business. The overall marijuana market is currently two to three times larger than the $8 Billion lawn and garden industry. In addition, the lawn industry will fade in the coming decades due to water shortages and climate concerns related to global warming — lawns are environmentally damaging and expensive. SMG is a smart company and the writing is clearly on the wall.
Could endorsement by a respected public company be the tipping point for widespread acceptance of medical cannabis and perhaps recreational use? If so, think of the benefits to society:
-Ending the 40 year failed War on Drugs would save tax payers $54B a year (Fed and combined States expenses).
-Legalization would eliminate criminal activity associated with prohibition.
-Generate sales tax revenues in the billions of dollars.
-Create thousands of new jobs.
-Reduce non-violent incarcerations by 25% making room for violent criminals.
-Increase availability of affordable medicine with less side-effects.
Mr. Hagedorn didn’t make his remarks about pot because he wants to improve society, his motivations are purely profit driven (based on additional comments). However, it was risky considering the Fed’s current position on cannabis. If SMG does make that first bold move toward supporting the medical marijuana industry and it accelerates federal legalization, it would put them in the drivers seat and create a lot of customer loyalty. It’s a mighty brave step but a prudent business decision.
Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.