Something that has troubled me since I started this blog is the way most people are treated in the marijuana movement and industry. I have seen a lot of very talented, hardworking people get treated like garbage by rich people in the marijuana world simply and only because they are working class. I myself have been treated that way because I come from a low income background, and quite often, despite the fact that I run circles around the same people that are directing their judgement at me.
I've seen some very amazing activists left out of business opportunities because the company decided to go with some unproven, non-activist alternative. 'They have a high business acumen, and a knack for making good decisions which will help take this industry to new levels' is they type of crap that the company says in the hire, acquisition, or joint partnership press release. Um, no, you chose that person because they are some 1% that was recommended by some other 1%. Since they are hiring that type of person, who lacks cannabis industry specific knowledge, the business pursuit falls flat, and in the end no one wins ultimately. Had that same company made the right decision and hired/partnered with the working class candidate or entrepreneur, they would have done big things.
No, I do not have an MBA or trust fund. But quite frankly, I don't want an MBA or a trust fund (no offense to those with an MBA and/or trust fund, it's a fine thing, just don't use it to put others down). I have always paved my own way in life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I specifically chose a public policy degree over a business degree because I wanted to learn about law and politics, and use that knowledge to help the world be a better place. That doesn't make me inferior to some Ivy League graduate that has never smoked even one flake of cannabis, and is only around this industry because they have dollar signs in their eyes.
I would take a long time cannabis activist over a one percenter any day of the week. One percenters, and wannabe one percenters, only work as hard as they get paid to do so. If they don't get enough results to be able to pay for a leased Mercedes within a couple of months, they move on to the next business opportunity and don't care what that does to the working class people they are leaving behind for cleanup duty. I've seen it SO many times.
There's of course no convincing 'the suits' as I call them. They either always know more because than you because they were lucky enough to have grown up with a trust fund, or they know someone who is. My business partner Jay Smoker (also grew up as broke as me), is the best in the industry when it comes to SEO, with no exceptions. Anyone who says otherwise obviously doesn't understand how 'greater than' and 'less than' symbols work. At virtually every industry event I've ever attended with him, I see guys in suits trying to 'one up him' with a bunch of garbage.
They tell him he is doing everything wrong, and that he should be doing 'X'. They always know because they have experience in Silicon Valley, and know some guy that has a computer science degree from back when MySpace was popular. Jay Smoker is always quick to point out that he doesn't have a college degree, and that he just 'speaks computer' and is really gracious about it. Me, not so much. I start pulling up Google referral statistics on my phone and pointing out how math alone proves that Jay Smoker is a beast, and ask the suits to either put up their own math or quit talking to us. Believe me, they don't like that!
I see it a lot with investors and investment entities in this industry too. Some of the crap that they invest in makes absolutely no sense. The investments are nothing more than smoke and mirrors, with rich guys exchanging money for the purpose of issuing a press release to feel good about seeing their names out there. At least that's what it seems like to me, because I can't understand why some of these ideas are getting such huge investments. If the investors had asked a veteran cannabis consumer and/or grower if they thought the idea was good, why or why not, they would have learned very quickly that there is no market for a lot of these ideas that are getting huge investments. It is brutally obvious to veteran working class cannabis consumers that the reason why a lot of them are getting investments is because of who they know, not what they know, which is unfortunate because a lot of amazing ideas are going unfunded. Big ideas, ones that would revolutionize cannabis.
It's not just an industry thing either. We have worked with so many campaigns and organizations over the years, and so many of them have disregarded our advice on many things that we could have helped with. At The Weed Blog we don't claim to be experts at everything, or even anything for that matter, but we think that we have a proven skill set that can help campaigns and organizations get more eyeballs on social media and the internet in general. Last time I checked those are pretty important things in the world of politics. Yet, people come to us to try to get us to plug their once-every-never press releases, which we are happy to do, but then they are not to be heard from again until their next press release.
I always try to reach out to see if we can lend some help, but often times my e-mails get forward to whoever is in charge of their website (that is not even on the first page of Google for relevant searches), and they are quick to tout their enormous computer skills that they learned while studying at some college for the economically privileged. That e-mail is usually followed by another e-mail from 'a top political strategist with the campaign/organization' who basically pats me on my head, tells me that they think what I'm doing is a great thing, and then never talk to me again. This isn't every campaign and organization. In fact a lot of them work with us all the time (hint: they are usually the ones that do well) and get what we do. But lots of others don't, which always makes me sad because that's the main reason we started this blog in January 2010.
There is a 'caste system' within the marijuana industry and movement, and I think it's garbage. I am lucky enough to be a part of this blog, so I can use the 'cannabis bully pulpit' to point this out, rant, complain, and be heard. Most other working class cannabis consumers aren't so lucky, and get jerked around on a regular basis. Suits flooding this industry can flout their monetary resources, and issue all the press releases they want to, but they sure as hell aren't getting any respect from me. I respect results. Just because someone is spending a lot of money in this industry doesn't mean that they are actually making money in this industry. And they are pushing out hardworking people that deserve to have a niche in this industry in the process. That's unacceptable to me.
People ask me all the time why I don't go to industry events. It's because of all the one-upper stupidity that I have to deal with, which I don't have a very high tolerance for. Believe me, it has gotten me in trouble before. I posted a status update on Facebook today that summed up how I feel about the marijuana caste system in the industry and movement:
Whether people want to admit it or not, there is a caste system in the cannabis industry and movement. I've seen so many talented people get taken advantage of or pushed aside simply because they aren't rich. You better believe that someday when I get money, that talent will be on my team, and suits are going to watch us shine. Only then will the suits realize they aren't as smart as they think. #Guaranteed
So far the status update has been 'liked' 85 times and shared 5 times. It has also resulted in a handful of hateful e-mails from people that think they are smarter than everyone else on the planet, and 'will change this industry and weed out the stoners' and make me eat my words. To those people I say good luck. Feel free to disagree, that's why they invented the comments section, and I encourage you to comment in a public forum, and even more importantly, leave your company name. If you want to continue to treat working class consumers like undesirables, I will always be there to call you out, for what that's worth. Thank you blogosphere for your time. Rant over.