Big tobacco has grown to become a multi-billion dollar industry over the past several years, despite setbacks from inappropriate product labeling and billion-dollar lawsuits. The legalization of cannabis in Colorado begins the first large-scale experiment with commercial marijuana that goes beyond medical use cases to recreational users throughout the state.

According to a recent article in The Guardian, “Instead of tie-dye T-shirts, the campaigners who masterminded the legalisation of recreational marijuana in Colorado wore dark suits and ties to celebrate the world’s first legal retail pot sales. Instead of talking about the counter-culture, they spoke approvingly of regulations, taxes and corporate responsibility. They looked sober, successful – mainstream.”

Those supporting the legalization of cannabis argue that laws are finally catching up to reality and prohibition only caused harm to users and lost tax revenue to governments. However, those opposing legalization counter that Big Cannabis is headed the same direction as Big Tobacco which has proliferated cigarettes throughout society through legalized marketing. For now, Colorado will serve as a giant experiment ahead of any nationwide actions.

While a legal haze remains over the industry, many experts don’t see a federal clampdown happening anytime soon. According to a recent article in Mail & Guardian, Paul Armentano, deputy director of pro-legalisation campaign group National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he believes a sudden clampdown on a regulated system that is increasingly accepted as the status quo is highly improbable. He pointed out that, even though two US states are on the verge of selling cannabis as they do alcohol, there have hardly been any objection in Congress, which has even tolerated medical cannabis dispensaries in Washington, DC, which it has the power to close.

It seems that “Big Cannabis” may be right around the corner.