Before Super Bowl XLVII, I ran across a number of posts and articles regarding the “Stoner Bowl,” the “Bud Bowl” and the pithy “Pack-a-Bowl.” These are references to the two football teams, Broncos and Seahawks, representing major cities in two states where recreational marijuana use is now legal.
Interestingly, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently stated that he is open to marijuana as an option for treating concussions and other head injuries if medical experts support it. In addition, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said he supports looking into whether medicinal marijuana could be beneficial as a treatment for players. That follows on the cusp of President Obama being quoted in The New Yorker as saying that smoking marijuana is “not very different from cigarettes” and “no more dangerous than alcohol.”
So what does this have to do with the legal services industry, other than the obvious criminal defense angle? After all, marijuana is still a federally prohibited Schedule I drug, under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The answer is business development. Although the legal marijuana industry is just beginning in the U.S., it is expected to grow from $2.3 billion in 2014 to $10.2 billion by 2018, according to ArcView Market Research. The growth of the legal marijuana industry has been referred to as the new dot.com bubble.
Investors are viewing this as a strong growth industry for the U.S. A marijuana business conference in Washington is now in its second year. Attendance at the conference doubled over the first year and it hosted more than 30 exhibitors to share information regarding investments, equipment, accounting and, yes, legal services.
Advertising to this niche market is not relegated to college campus bulletin boards. Circling back to the Super Bowl, five digital billboards, paid for by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), near MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (the site of Super Bowl XLVIII) will highlight pro-marijuana messages. The billboards will display images of football players with messages such as “Marijuana is less harmful to our bodies than alcohol. Why does the league punish us for making the safer choice?” and “Marijuana: Safer than alcohol and football.”
And big-name companies are getting in on the action as well. Spirit Airlines and the high-end cosmetic line Urban Decay, among others, have already displayed ads with not-so-subtle references to marijuana. A Fox News sports commentator recently noted that it would be interesting to see if any Super Bowl advertisers slip in a subtle reference to the subject.
Given the revenue projections for the industry, there will no doubt be increased needs for legal services and, perhaps someday, marketing these legal services. It certainly has the potential to be more interesting than marketing mergers and acquisitions and antitrust law.
If you have insights or questions regarding the need for legal services within the legal marijuana industry, post a comment or contact Terry M. Isner at email@example.com.