One of the most significant experiences in my life was sitting in on a panel at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference in Denver earlier this year. The panel was led by two of my heros, Kris Kane and Troy Dayton. I have always admired these hardworking activists for being able to do good things in the world while at the same time carving out a career for themselves. It seems like all to often cannabis business owners fail to find this balance, and sellout for the money.
Cannabis business is very important to the movement. I know it’s hard to think that, with all of the greedy people that are hurting the movement, but it’s true. As Troy Dayton and Kris Kane pointed out, cannabis businesses reach demographics that activism by itself can’t. It’s not coincidence that support for marijuana reform has risen at the same time that the prevalence of cannabis businesses has also risen. People that otherwise wouldn’t support reform are now on board because they see that cannabis can be taxed and regulated under certain conditions. Of course, one of those conditions is that the feds stay out of the issue!
Campaign funding is very important to the marijuana movement. In theory, as cannabis businesses succeed, they give back to the movement. The more successful cannabis businesses there are, the more campaign dollars roll through. As I stated, this is ‘in theory.’ In reality there are a lot of greedy people trying to hid behind fake compassion in order to line their own pockets. These people are easy to spot. Simply ask them, ‘how much money have you donated to the cause, and where did you donate it?’ Anything short of a direct answer is a clear indicator that the person is not genuine.
A successful, responsible cannabis business is one of the best public relations tools that the marijuana reform movement can have. All members of society can look to them as examples of how things can work if reform is achieved. People don’t always drive by the same parts of town and see a rally everyday. People don’t always drive by a mall and see a signature gatherer. But they do drive past the local collective, which is likely in a space that would otherwise be vacant due to the economic crisis.
These people drive by and see that there are no problems, and that in some cases, the cannabis business owner gives back to the local community above and beyond marijuana reform. It’s a very powerful thing for an ‘on the fence voter’ to see a cannabis business owner volunteering in the community, or donating to the local non-profit. More powerful than if a marijuana activist asked for a signature. If you are a successful cannabis business owner and you aren’t doing those things, what is your justification?
The point of this article is to state that it’s OK to profit from the cannabis movement, so long as it’s done responsibly. If you are a cannabis business owner, give back to the movement, and to your local community. In doing so, you will help move reform forward in ways that non-business owners can’t. And after all, it helps your business anyways because cannabis business and reform go hand in hand; they cannot be separated. Anyone who thinks otherwise is no doubt a ‘profiteer’ and should be avoided at all costs!