Turning a New Leaf: Tobacco versus Marijuana


Kaetlyn Dembkoski
  Staff Writer

As the twenty-first century approaches their new year, the younger generations take up a new leaf. For some though, this leaf is not of the metaphorical variety.

In recent years, cigarettes have taken a place on the backburner, while drugs like marijuana have heavily taken the foreground in terms of discussion. This is not to say that cigarettes are fading as an issue amongst society.  

In fact, society has seemingly broadened their spectrum when it comes to drug use to expand beyond any prior issue that arose with cigarettes. For that reason, tobacco companies are vying to keep up with demand and give their customers the release they desire.

With times changing from a decently strict cigarette based smoking with a considerable number of people dabbling in other substances to the reverse situation, tobacco companies strove to keep up with trends and ensure they were not left out.

In terms of tobacco companies and their relation to marijuana specifically, since drugs including marijuana are being targeted towards younger generations, one could see that marijuana is a new potential for more money and a new target base. This new target base may then proceed to expose themselves to other drugs because they tampered with marijuana.

While cigarettes are still widely used, marijuana, among other drugs, has given itself a name that helps by changing views on smoking overall. This also expands profits for tobacco companies by means of e-cigarettes and vaping markets being coupled with marijuana which have now become ever more popular as the younger generations normalize them into everyday culture, even going as far as making these types of smoking memes a.k.a. viral internet jokes.

One area in particular that has begun to utilize this change in smoking habits is the state of Kentucky. The initial benefit that the marijuana industry provides is that it does not require a method too vastly different from that of normal tobacco, making it so that they can be grown similarly.

For Kentucky, while they are growing hemp, not marijuana, the main issue lies in the position of certain laws that make it illegal to grow neither hemp nor marijuana there.

According to these laws, Under the current U.S. drug policy, all cannabis varieties, including hemp, are considered Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA, 21 U.S.C. §§801 et seq.; Title 21 CFR Part 1308.11). Hemp production is controlled and regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

It is illegal to grow hemp without a DEA permit. Cannabis varieties may be legitimately grown for research purposes only.

Farmers that have dedicated their lives to these crops have been severely crippled by these laws that prevent them from selling their goods legally, especially since hemp specifically is not always relied on as a means of a drug but is equally utilized as a raw material to be used for multiple harmless results such as milk or clothing building.

With these laws in place, even with a DEA permit, steps such as distribution of their products become increasingly difficult as extensive background checks and constant criminal checks are required prior to the sale being made for each customer. While these checks are necessary to protect the validity of the sellers, it also adds an immense number of steps that cigarettes simply do not need to deal with.

While the positives seem to outweigh the negatives when it comes to growing marijuana, the real trouble arrives when dealing with law enforcement. There are many that would love to reap the benefits of growing marijuana; however, they proceed to do so illegally without a permit.

Thus, when they are caught by officers, their plants are sliced, burned, and seized often without warning. This causes many growers to give up or simply continue only growing tobacco in a belief that growing marijuana would be fruitless unless they took the ultimate risk.

Tobacco has been one of America’s staple crop since its founding; as such, the ease that growing tobacco for cigarettes versus that of marijuana, despite the demand for the latter, is seemingly an easier task. Even though cigarettes do have their own imperfections, when it comes to the advertising portion of the sale being heavily negative, marijuana seems to be far too much work than it is worth.

By worth, I do not mean cost as much as I insinuate the risk of criminal charges, which is an immense possibility due to the ruthless and constant search by officers, one would face jail time as well as a complete loss to the entirety of their crops.

Does this outweigh notion of jail time and punishment outweigh the true success of the switch from tobacco to marijuana? Potentially.

The market for these drugs is ever increasing as the new generations expand beyond simple tobacco and cigarettes. As long as these drugs remain the new staple crops of the decades, so will the tobacco companies vie to keep up with these demands and rake in as much cash as possible.

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