Two medical marijuana bills introduced in the House of Representatives late last week could go a long way toward legitimizing medical marijuana shops: 

The industry bills were introduced with bipartisan lead sponsors. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are the lead sponsors of the “Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011,” which would amend Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code so that medical marijuana providers can take standard business deductions like any other business.

The “Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011,” sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), would allow financial institutions to work with medical marijuana businesses without the fear of running afoul of federal banking regulations.

That text is from the National Cannabis Industry Association, the newest drug reform lobbying shop in D.C. As NORML noted today, the number of registered medical marijuana users is somewhere between 1 million and 1,500,000, making legal weed one hell of a cash crop

Assuming usage of one-half to one gram of cannabis medicine per day per patient and an average retail price of $320 per ounce, these legal consumers represent a $2.3 to $6.2 billion dollar market annually.

Based on state medical marijuana laws, the amounts of cannabis these legal marijuana users are entitled to possess means there is between 566 – 803 thousand pounds of legal usable cannabis allowed under state law in America.  These patients are allowed to cultivate between 17 – 24 million legal cannabis plants.  There may possibly be more, as California and New Mexico “limits” may be exceeded with doctor’s permission and some California counties explicitly allow greater amounts, so there may be as much as 1 million pounds of state-legal cannabis allowed under state law in America.

Aside: If you missed Rohrabacher's scathing op-ed on the renewal of the PATRIOT Act, read it now. (Sample: "When reathorization came around five years ago, we were basically asked to reauthorize the original legislation, except this time all the sunsets were to be left out. That’s the kind of freedom lover GW was and is. We are in the middle of a war and he uses the opportunity to permanently expand federal law enforcement’s power over the population as a whole.")