Groups that have longed worked together to legalize marijuana are now on opposite sides of the fight as medical marijuana dispensaries try to shut out competition, according to an article in Politico.

Big Marijuana – the billion-dollar medical marijuana industry that exists in 18 states – is “deeply concerned” and in some cases “actively fighting” ballot measures and legislation that could harm its business model, the article says. Dispensary owners and others involved in the medical marijuana industry benefit from monopolies on the right to sell legal pot.

The industry’s position is at odds with those pushing for complete legalization. Such advocates hope to pass full legalization measures in six states by 2016, using momentum from ballot box successes in Colorado and Washington last fall. Those two states now have some of the world’s most permissive pot laws, the article said.

The current tension between the industry and legalization advocates was evidenced this spring when the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine joined anti-pot forces to oppose a state bill that would allow people to legally possess small quantities of the drug. The industry argued the law would result in criminal organizations smuggling legally-bought marijuana to neighboring states and said the bill’s tax plan was unfair, according to Politico.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, says the fight is all about money. The industry responded by saying it is not philosophically opposed to decriminalizing marijuana but that the “devil is in the details.”

One of the first things I learned as a criminal defense lawyer is to follow the money. A lot of things can only be understood by looking at the money trail. There's no doubt that the legalization of marijuana involves BIG money - which generally leads to strange bedfollows. There's no doubt this is only the beginning.

If you are in Waco - or anywhere in Texas - remember that marijuana is still a crime that can you land you in jail. Even though attitudes are changing across the country, don't expect Texas to fall in liine anytime soon. If you're arrested for posssesson of  marijuana in Waco or McLennna County you are going to jail - it's not just a ticket like it is in some places. You will have to post bond, hire a lawyer and go to court. It's going to be awhile before that changes.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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