The Marijuana Industry Requires A Unique Skill Set
Have you ever gone into a head shop, grow shop, collective, dispensary, or some other type of cannabis business establishment and wondered how the person got their job their because they obviously don’t know anything about the cannabis culture or industry? I know I have. Admittedly, I go into cannabis establishments more than most other people. But it seems like at least once a week I see someone working at a cannabis business that either has no desire to learn about the culture/industry they are working in, or are just putting up a front that they care in order to try to cash in on the ‘green rush’ that has dominated the West Coast the last few years.
This is always a big turnoff for me. I only want to do business with people that have been in the culture and industry for at least a few years, but preferably a decade or longer. This is because the cannabis industry is unlike any other industry on the planet. The skills it takes to be truly successful in the cannabis industry (and not just a faker looking to profit) are hard to obtain. You can’t learn these skills in a classroom, and you certainly can’t buy them with money. That’s not to say that some fakers out there are aren’t making money in the cannabis industry, because they are. But their time is running out. All it takes is for a genuine ganjaprepreneur to come along and the faker will be put out of business. I have seen it happen time after time in cannabis related retail, media, and beyond.
Ever since Ninjasmoker and I quit our old jobs to pursue activism full time, we have met so many fake people in this industry. They are so easy to spot. This is probably not the best thing to put out there, since fakers will no doubt realize why I’m asking them these questions now, but I always ask the same set of questions to people to see if they are genuine or not. When did you first start smoking marijuana? How often do you smoke it? What is your preferred method of consumption? Have you ever sold marijuana? Have you ever grown marijuana?
When you ask someone those questions, you will learn really fast if they are genuine or not. If their answers are evasive, and come with long explanations, then they are likely a faker or ‘profiteer.’ If they give honest answers, and the only explanations they give involve high grade nutrients, then you know they are ‘down’ with the cause. I have no problem with people that aren’t ‘down’ with the cause, but I don’t want to do business with them. I only want to work with, or support financially, experts in this industry, not other industries, because after all, the cannabis industry is unlike any other industry there is.
If I had a dollar for every time a person with an MBA, or some other advanced degree, tried to do a guest post for The Weed Blog I’d have enough money to buy a house made out of hemp. If I had a dollar for every investor that knew ‘the right thing for us to do’ with our website, I would be able to buy a dozen hemp houses. But if I tried to count on my fingers how many of these investors had truly solid ideas that were based on years of inside knowledge of the cannabis industry and culture, it would be hard to make a ‘peace’ sign with my fingers…
I tell them until I’m blue in the face that their guest posts and ‘expert’ opinions would do quite well for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, but in the world of marijuana, their papers aren’t even good enough to roll joints with. That’s because true marijuana fans want to read stuff or support stuff that comes from within the movement. It’s hard to explain, but I know when I’m reading something genuine, or buying something genuine, because I can almost feel the marijuana knowledge in the essay or product or service. I will comment to Ninjasmoker all the time, ‘The only way they could have come up with that idea is if they were deep in the grind.’ Do TWB readers feel the same way?
It kills me to see perfectly good cannabis industry jobs going to people outside of the cannabis culture. Businesses might think that it’s vital to get that outside perspective, or to bring someone on that has experience in other areas, thinking it will translate over. Please, please cannabis business leaders, don’t do this anymore! Do you wonder why your investment is flopping? Do you wonder why the person you hired lacks passion? It’s probably because they don’t know what they are doing, and definitely don’t believe in it!
Instead, hire someone that LOVES marijuana. They will come to work every day fired up, and will bring a passion that cannot be matched by any person, no matter how much more you pay them. When people are doing it for the love, no one who is doing it for the money can ever match their tenacity. Your business will be better off for it, customers will be better off for it, and most importantly, the hardworking employee you just hired will be better off for it.
The only thing that kills me more than seeing a non-marijuana consumer taking up a job in the industry is to see a talented, dynamic marijuana activist grinding it out at a meaningless job that they hate. Or even worse, out committing felonies in order to make ends meet so that they can pursue activism on the side. If these activists had jobs in the cannabis industry, they would be able to pursue activism more frequently and effectively, which would help the movement, industry, and culture move forward.
If you are a cannabis business owner, and you truly believe in what you are doing, you will no doubt agree with me. If you think I’m off base, then you are probably a profiteer, and I offer you this warning — if you don’t change your ways, your days are numbered. All it takes is a genuine person pursuing the same idea(s) as you, and you will be weeded out by people that are pure. It’s only a matter of time.