Electronic Cigarettes and Marijuana?
In an interesting, if unexpected, development in America, US President Barack Obama has been talking about the use of marijuana across the country. This comes just days after the authorities in Colorado and Washington agreed to legalise marijuana under specific regulations. Over the last few months there has been significant focus on the electronic cigarette market although President Obama’s suggestion that “marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol” appears set to open a wider debate on specific substances available across the US.
When you take into account the billions of dollars the US government receives in taxation from the sale of tobacco and alcohol, perhaps marijuana was the next natural step? This comes at a time when the US government is looking to clamp down on electronic cigarettes despite the fact that millions of people in the US, and around the world, find them to be very useful in the quest to reduce their tobacco intake.
Could electronic cigarettes sneak under the regulatory radar?
The regulatory situation regarding electronic cigarettes is shrouded in mystery with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation still ongoing after two years. These comments attributed to President Obama, at a recent New Yorker magazine event, may well shift the regulatory focus away from electronic cigarettes in the short-term towards the use of marijuana across the US.
His direct comparison between alcohol and marijuana, with marijuana in his view no more dangerous than alcohol, could take away some of the focus from the electronic cigarette industry. It seems inevitable that we will see the introduction of regulations for the electronic cigarette industry in the short to medium term but the reality is that many people operating in the industry would welcome the clarity. At this moment in time, in many ways the industry is being impacted by lower quality products and operators who are perhaps a little less selective about their clientele. Anything which would see low quality products exit the marketplace would be most welcome.
Is it really all about the money?
When you look at the popularity of alcohol, tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and marijuana across many states in the US, there is potentially enormous tax revenue to be gathered going forward. While marijuana is now legal in two states across the US, despite its long-term popularity in the country, it is not susceptible to sales taxes outside of Colorado and Washington. The introduction of some form of sales tax on the legal sale of marijuana together with the introduction of specific tax on electronic cigarettes could significantly boost US government coffers in the long term.
In some ways the monetary issues is overshadowing the fact that all parties involved in the electronic cigarette industry are keen for further medical trials and a definitive regulatory structure going forward. It is the confusion, rumours and untruths which are impacting the industry although in reality much of the confusion has been caused by politicians selectively choosing medical data to support their own particular stance.
There is the potential for the electronic cigarette industry to be dragged into a wider debate on substance use in America with elements such as alcohol, tobacco and now marijuana very much in the spotlight. We will likely see much of the focus centered round marijuana in the short to medium term and while this will take some of the heat off the electronic cigarette industry, a reasonable regulatory framework is likely to be agreed in the not too distant future. This will then set the foundations for the future electronic cigarette industry, clarify a current situation which is mystifying many electronic cigarette users and allow the industry to look forward.
Mark Benson is a contributing author for Spinfuel eMagazine. His continuing columns will bring a level headed approach to the dynamics involved in realizing a positive future for the e-cigarette industry. For more information on electronic cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website.