The legal and quasi-legal growing of marijuana is big business. The Wall Street Journal says so on the front page of its weekend edition in a prominent place right below its play story on the Boston manhunt.
"The Pot Business Suffers Growing Pains," says the headline, a cry for capital -- seed capital, so to speak -- for startup businesses that are a lot better bet, and a lot more fun, than packaging toxic mortgages for sale to municipal pension funds.
The Journal introduces us to pot farmer Elliott Klug, and if any member of Congress praised him in the Congressional Record as a job creator, I missed it. He employs 70 people to raise marijuana for sale to people who have a prescription for it.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow the production and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, of which there are surprisingly many -- such as existential angst. Two of those states, Washington and Colorado, allow marijuana for what is euphemistically called "recreational use," meaning "getting stoned."
Clearly, marijuana is on its way to becoming a mainstream business. The Journal estimates that there are now 2,000 to 4,000 legal marijuana businesses, with annual sales of $1.2 billion to $3 billion.
Perhaps it's even time to think about including marijuana farmers in the farm bill so they can get cheap crop insurance that pays for accidental losses -- say, if your basement flooded -- and pays if there are unfortunate fluctuations in price. Speaking of which, pot futures should be a part of any well-run commodities market.
Including marijuana in the food-stamp program -- a major part of the farm bill -- might be counterproductive. Food stamps are intended to combat hunger whereas marijuana is known to induce severe attacks of the munchies.
By the way, the growers do have a trade organization, the National Cannabis Industry Association, based in Washington, D.C. Their website doesn't give a street address, but I'm guessing it's high above Pennsylvania Avenue.
Dale McFeatters is a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service.