The marijuana industry is one of the most popular things on the planet right now. Cannabis has gone from being entirely underground to becoming more mainstream every day. The cannabis industry is new, it is exciting, and it seems like the industry has almost unlimited potential. If you go to any cannabis event and talk to people that are in the industry, you can see on their faces how fired up they are to be pursuing their dream in one form or another.
It's also an exciting time to be a consumer. I remember a couple of decades ago having a hard time find quality cannabis on a consistent basis. Now I can purchase it all over my area in Oregon, and the selection is unreal. Being 'dry' is basically a thing of the past, provided a person in Oregon has enough money to frequent an outlet. I have a medical marijuana card, and have been going to dispensaries lately and I'm pleased with what is available and how much it costs. There are changes on the way in Oregon, so I hope that stays the same for patients, but I think only time will tell.
The recreational market in Oregon is bigger than many people expected, and by many accounts things are going great in other states that allow legal recreational and/or medical sales. That's not to say that there isn't a lot of work to be done, because there definitely is, but there have been a lot of successes too. A lot of the successes have been very high profile, which feeds into 'green rush' perception of the industry.
The fact of the matter is, yes, there are a lot of people making a lot of money in the marijuana industry, and I'm sure that there will be people in the future that crush it as well. But people need to remember that for every successful marijuana industry story out there, there's countless stories of people that have fought for cannabis reform for many decades and/or have been wrongfully harmed by marijuana prohibition. The marijuana industry is built on the backs of all of those people, many of which who will never experience the benefits of the emerging cannabis industry because they are either gone now, or incarcerated, or have lived with the 'marijuana scarlet letter' for so long that their lives have been ruined beyond repair.
The cannabis industry is possible, and people are lining their pockets, as a direct result of the hard work and sacrifices of longtime drug war activists and victims. People have literally died during the struggle to make purchasing a recreational pre-roll marijuana joint legal and possible. Consumers get so caught up wondering which strain of flower they should pick when they are at the dispensary, or what type of medible fits their mood at the time, that they forget how not that long ago the only way to purchase marijuana was in the shadows. In many more states than not, marijuana is still very much illegal for recreational purposes, and/ or illegal even for most medical purposes.
I don't mean to bring anyone's mood down, but I think that it's important that consumers keep in mind the struggles that have been endured in order to bring about a regulated industry, and how many struggles that are still left to deal with. The marijuana industry is something special. The legal and regulated industry was born out of a social justice movement, which isn't something that most other industries can say. People always want to talk about the numbers involved with the industry as proof that the industry is special, but any activist who has fought for reform doesn't need to see any industry projections to know that the cannabis industry is special.
The cannabis consumer base has the opportunity to do something that doesn't happen very often. I was hanging out with some friends last night (Adam and Karynn, always full of wisdom!) and we were discussing the need for cannabis consumers to hold cannabis companies accountable via their purchase habits. In a lot of industries, consumer purchases are made without a thought as to where the product came from, and what the companies behind those products are like and what they stand for. The percentage of conscience consumers in general is going up in America, but I think it's going up even faster in the cannabis world.
Cannabis consumers have always been more curious than the average consumer of other products. I have been a cannabis consumer for a while now, and virtually every cannabis consumer I know wanted to know more about what they were smoking and who they were getting their supply from way before there was testing. The average cannabis consumer is becoming more sophisticated by the day in America, and I think that trend is fed in large part by a natural desire by cannabis consumers to be more aware of where their dollars are going.
The marijuana industry is huge, and getting bigger by the day. The secret has been out for a long time, and people are flocking to the industry in packs and waves in hopes of making it big. And I'm not just talking about average people of average means. Anyone who is in the industry already knows that many deep pockets enter the industry all of the time, and they have only one thing on their mind - money. They want to make money, no matter the cost, no matter what it takes when it comes to employee treatment. They have no regard to environmental concerns, no desire to support reforming in a meaningful way, and don't contribute to the communities in which they operate. They are likely to toe the line when it comes to cultivation and/or processing practices, all in the name of increased profits.
As a cannabis consumer, does that piss you off? It should. It certainly pisses me off. It crushes a part of my soul when I see someone I know and care for, and know have been harmed by marijuana prohibition, go into a dispensary and buy the most profiteer products that they see because those companies are experts at branding and nothing more. I get sad when I see people support companies that have never given back to reform, and support shady players in the industry.
Trust me, I see it all the time. The cannabis industry is still very new, and consumers have the chance to create buying habits that not only form the industry, but because marijuana prohibition impacts so many people, those buying habits have the potential to improve the world beyond the parameters of the cannabis world. What happens in the next 5-10 years is going to have a huge impact on what the marijuana industry looks like 20 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, and beyond.
When you are giving your dollars to a cannabis company, do you know what that company stands for? Do you know if that company has given back to the movement? Does the company take care of its employees? Are they good stewards of the industry to the larger community in which they operate, or do they base their decisions entirely on what generates the highest annual revenue possible? Does the company stand up against sharks in the industry, or do they call all out shady characters when they see them? I get that you can't please everyone all the time, but if you can Google someone's name that is closely associated with a company, and the results are overwhelmingly alarming, there's probably good reason for the cause for that alarm, and the companies those types of people associate with should not be supported, in addition to obviously not supporting companies that are ran by those same types of people.
Before you give your hard earned dollars to a cannabis company, take into consideration not just the product that the company has to offer, but what that company is doing to help carry their fair share of the load in the march to end cannabis prohibition, and right the wrongs of the past as much as reasonably possible. It's not a big leap for most cannabis consumers, many of which are already taking this approach to their buying habits. The cannabis community has always had a much higher than average consumer awareness level compared to consumers of other products.
Do your part by doing your research. Vote with your dollars, and send a message to everyone who is in the cannabis space that if they aren't here to be a good player in the industry, that there is no place for them in America's next great industry. Demand that companies come correct. The cannabis industry needs to reach its full potential and become something special, rather than becoming just another profiteering sector of the American economy, with a lot of good people being trampled in the process, and the efforts of countless hardworking activists and prohibition victims being almost all for not.