With recent changes in state and federal legislation concerning recreational marijuana, this little bud is here to stay. Loyola should invest in the marijuana industry by opening a student-run dispensary near campus once federal legislation allows them to do so.
Illinois legalized recreational marijuana through the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) which took effect Jan. 1 and the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. If signed into law, this Act will decriminalize marijuana on a federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.
Having a student-run dispensary is contingent on the MORE Act becoming law, if it does become law it would allow Loyola to make its own marijuana policy since it wouldn’t violate federal law to be involved in the marijuana industry.
Loyola should run the potential dispensary through Loyola Limited — a student-run program where students operate businesses, such as the bike shop ChainLinks or the Wolf’s Kettle which runs the concessions at university events. A student-run dispensary near campus would allow students to get hands-on training and experience in an exploding field of commerce with a lot of potential. The estimated retail revenue of marijuana in 2019 was between $11-14 billion and the expected revenue in 2021 is roughly $22 billion, according to the Marijuana Business Factbook.
People are allowed to smoke in dispensaries so the dispensary would have to be near campus since Illinois law bans smoking on campus. The university can run the dispensary at an off-campus commercial space — Loyola already runs several off-campus commercial spaces through its real estate company Lakeside Management.
The Phoenix’s Editorial Board has penned in the past that President Jo Ann Rooney runs Loyola like a business. If this is the case, Loyola should make the business decision to open a dispensary near campus.
Washington state, which has roughly 4 million fewer residents than Illinois, reported $367.4 million in revenue from legal weed, according to its treasury. Since its legalization in Illinois, marijuana sales have already reached close to $20 million in sales and dispensaries are running out of supply, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Marijuana is a great emerging industry that allows for innovative business ideas and entrepreneurship. There is a wide range of products that could be sold, which include oils, edible products and flower bud. The dispensary could also sell CBD products which don’t contain THC — the psychoactive effect in marijuana — and CBD can be used in medicinal ways, according to the Mayo Clinic.
There are roughly 77,000 Illinois residents who use medical marijuana according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Those who use medical cannabis should have easy access to these products to help treat conditions, and having a dispensary near campus allows for easy access.
Loyola’s dispensary wouldn’t only serve students who are of legal age but could also serve the entire Rogers Park community since there are no recreationally licensed dispensaries in Rogers Park. The closest to campus is Dispensary 33, which is located near the Argyle Red Line stop.
If Loyola feels uneasy about making money off marijuana, they should use potential profits from the dispensary to help fund other areas of the school such as scholarships for low-income students or programs that don’t make money but help students academically. The English Language Learning Program, which helped foreign students learn English at a college level, is one example of a now-closed program that could’ve used funding.
Having a dispensary on campus could be controversial since it promotes the sale of a substance that a majority of undergraduate students can’t legally use. But Loyola already runs a business like this: Ireland’s, a bar on campus. If Loyola is comfortable selling one age-controlled substance — alcohol — they should be comfortable selling two.
Legal marijuana is here to stay — two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to a Pew Research Center study. Why not make some money off it and use that revenue to help other less profitable areas of Loyola, such as scholarship funds or underfunded programs that help students get degrees?