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Is There A ‘Caste System’ In The Marijuana Industry And Movement?


marijuana caste systemSomething 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.


About Author

Johnny Green


  1. saynotohypocrisy on

    How long do you think the monopoly provision will stand? Who will support such an un-American provision once it can be separated from the need to legalize cannabis use in Ohio, medicinal use especially? If they have their monopoly for a couple of years, who cares? They’ll have earned a 2 year head start for doing something that no one else is close to doing in Ohio.
    And a victory in Ohio this year, even with these obnoxious provisions, will be a big positive surprise in the push to legalize weed nationwide.

  2. Peoriadude, to let you know, most of us here in Oregon are working our Butts off nationally to try to change the system. I agree that the campaign donor costs are crazy, and I do not on principal give any money to them because, i am disabled, and poor. When I go into dispensaries, legal or not, my husband are treated for the most part, very different than the more seemingly “financially well off.” When we can’t get into conversations to try to get the right stuff, I find it off putting. When the pricing of the Marijuana/hemp gatherings want endless $$$ to attend, people like us, can’t, period. Even if it would HELP us to attend to find out the trends for those who have significant illnesses get better treatment/options.

    Call the ASA ask them if about the problems of not getting proper ‘dripper co2 company help’, and they will say “well it’s the wild west, what Can I say?” Its all about the dispensaries for the most part, not about the client. Is this a caste system? Yes. If i can be certain a product i NEED (not want, not maybe could do without) is not able to be found, we cannot call the companies, nor talk to any of them to ask; “Why isn’t this product available? We emailed and have asked the owners of the dispensaries to reserve this product for us, why didn’t you give them our product?” the answer was; “Oh wow, man. So sorry.” By both the company producing the product and the dispensary owner. Now, for some, this may seem ‘silly’ but when you have full body spasms, with significant 8-9-10 pain without the right product, with literally twisting of muscles and nerves (I have both spastic Cerebral Palsy and Fibromyalgia combined), having the product is the difference between life and damn near death.

    It’s not about being ‘she-she’ chic and going to wine tastings, okay? The right thing, is to help SPONSOR those helping others like my husband and myself attend seminars in order to get BETTER advocacy for the disabled, rather than ‘shrugging their shoulders’ helplessly and say, “oh wow, man. ” The answer is to have dispensaries who do more than ‘mouth’ how they are for the ill and disabled, and actually HELP them, not just zone out. If this is M.E.D.I.C.I.N.E then for heaven’s sake, treat cannabis as medicine. If you want it recreationally, (and I have NOTHING AGAINST THAT), that’s fine! It should be a whole different way to approach their clients.

  3. Small growers built the business. They will have to save it too. BIG cannabis is in for a big surprise. The ‘black market’ everyone is trying destroy is mostly just small growers trying to make a living. I know of none that are getting rich. That is what your 1% is trying to do. Folks won’t shell out the little money they have for commercial weed. That is why the big money will be hard to come by in this business. Washington state is finding that out. And they don’t let folks grow their own. Here in OR, lots of small growers will be a buffer against high prices and low quality.

  4. Why would you assume that?
    I’m from a working class background and yet I have met many 1%ers, not just from my own country either.
    In fact, I’m now related to some of them.

  5. I think the cannabis industry is something like the oil business in the 1950’s. There are a lot of aggressive sharks in the waters, and fortunes to be made and lost if you have the nerve to dive in. An original idea, well executed, can still make a fortune. Or, you could decide to specialize in “quality control” like me and watch from the sidelines.

  6. MyOpinionIsMyOwn on

    I guarantee you’ve never met a 1%. Your misuse of it makes it pretty clear that you’re as uneducated as you admit.

  7. The Bottom line is the all important Dollar. And the False Pretext/Premiss that Money Grants Social and Personal Respectability, in our Society. And The aquisition of Wealth validates you as a person of, Honor, Ethical Integrity, Respectability and as a Successful Human Being. Regardless of, or in Spite of the Facts.

  8. Wow. You buried some interesting points under your rant. It is frustrating that people with money have advantages, but it does not mean that they are all greedy bad people. Or incompetent. Some probably are greedy bastards, others may just be part of a team trying to do good work and make a living. Broad brush strokes can make you look like a feeble painter.

  9. Well Johnny…welcome to how the industry will work…and will be cemented as the norm if the oligopoly Ohio initiative is allowed to go forward and set precedent…

    Anyone who is not insanely wealthy need not apply to be a grower at the top of the cannabis food chain…oh sure we will let you fight over the scraps to be a dispensary, etc…but be at the top as the grower…oh no…no.. we can’t have that…no measly pee-on should get to do that..and if as the rich people we can’t prevent it through initiative like Ohio..we will lobby the government to make the fees to apply so high and cost to meet regulations, that only the wealthy will be able to afford to even apply…

    This is why I think the most important aspect of any states initiative should be a residency requirement to be named as an owner operator of any cannabis related business in a given state’s system..as well as setting low limits on cost of application….as well as banks needing to be able to come in and provide business loans…

    Even though of course you will have big money out of state backers..at least you might have someone who lives in the state with their name on the dotted line…

  10. You have just described the existing paradigm of the oligarchal structure of MOST beaurocracies, both private and government beaurocracies. The poison in this country and elsewhere, and our advocacy, is the ‘caste’ or oligarchical system. Once in place it’s as hard to move (change) as carrying a dinosaur across the ocean while walking on water. The next phase in entrenched oligarchy is creeping fascism, which the good souls of the legalization movement, the ‘Johnny Greens’, just might protect us from in our precious young legalization movement. I say legalization, rather than including MMJ, because, with the exception of a few States, the medical marijuana movement is flailing and totally ineffective.
    I cannot understand how a properly crafted MMJ legislation does not start with a group consisting of users, growers, political and public policy advocates like Johnny Green, and the honest representation of the incredible array of scientific studies showing MMJ’S effectiveness. Just as Johnny Green has revealed in his much needed ‘rant’, there are experts and then there the 1%ers.
    Push forward. Keep pushing. My compliments to the work of Johnny Green and his ‘peers’ in this urgently needed legalization. The 1%ers are the disease and should get out of the way and go secretly smoke their illegally acquired MJ and let the REAL experts get the job done.

  11. CannaPublishers on

    Don’t like it any better than you Johnny, but one thing I’ve learned at those conferences is that there masquerades many a hippie in a tailored suit, wanting nothing more than someone to step outside and burn one with.

  12. Back in the day we gave our weed to our friends and when they “got some” they would return the favor. Unfortunately here we are. Those suits don’t understand the word sharing and this ultimately will bring down the suits when they see money isn’t what rules the cannabis community. Give it time, a lot of time and I think all this profit shit will go bye-bye. You can’t charge 5 – 15 bucks a gram when it doesn’t cost even 1 dollar a gram to grow. The fair market (if it’s still fair) should sort this crap out eventually.

  13. I agree, whole-heartedly! I feel the same way about medical marijuana users v. everyday tokers. There should be no “v.” in that phrase because if we’re going to get it legalized we ALL of us tokers need to stick together. Back in da day, when I started toking marijuana was all about inclusivity and not excluding anyone. I recently saw the documentary AMERICAN WEED and though the Stanleys do good works with regards to marijuana legalization, they put forth this “don’t associate us with recreational pot smokers” stance that is, in my humble opinion, unconducive to marijuana legalzation. Something we all want, yes?

  14. Your lucky ! Not chasing that $$
    Wolf of wall street when DiCaprio held up that $100. That’s what they are addicted to! And some will kill if you threaten that source.
    Look at the guy who murdered to protect his illegal outdoor crop
    80 years in jail.
    I have a post on G+ about hotbox using a fog machine.
    It wasn’t even my post, I got 400 + likes
    It was/is. A joke.
    I have posts up about cannabis curing. Cancer, or epilepsy . Nothing
    Maybe 1 Share.
    Just shows where the” online audience ” is at.
    I stopped comments and unsubscribed to several g+ community because of TROLLS
    Either paid shills or haters who swear
    “This is the best” or “you’re doing it wrong”
    #bullshit salesman and the greedy pushing unproven technology
    I dig the WEED BLOG for not being sold out!
    BIASED maybe but “loyal to the soil”
    Fuck the haters!

  15. Dear Johnny,
    I am an avid reader blog and I’ve read it every single day for the last three years. Without you and Jay smoker I would have no idea what is going on in the cannabis industry, especially because I live in one of those states that is still way way way behind the time. However I was extremely surprised to read your post this morning, for lack of a better way of stating this you are extremely hypocritical with what you’re saying. First you condemn individuals who have a trust fund and college education for wanting o be part of the industry than you turn around and say that you and other activists are entitled to be part of the Industry. How is that any different from the one percenters believing that they are entitled to the nations wealth. You both are acting like children crying because their parents won’t buy them a toy, it is the problem with the American mindset we are entitled.

    Now not to get too political and to avoid a history lesson, but in 1776 America declared it’s independence from Britain because the British were taxing Americans without allowing Americans representation in Parliament. Or in other words the British felt that they were entitled to the Americans money and Americans would not stand for it. So we fought hard and won a war, now hundreds of years later we have become our enemy and now we feel entitled to everything.

    No one is entitled to anything and hard work leads to success that’s the mentality we need to adopt. In my personal opinion there is no greater example of this than cannabis reform. Since 1937 individuals such as Jay smoker and Johnny Green have fought and worked tirelessly to secure individuals rights to use the medicine they believe benefits them the most. Furthermore to secure the rights of individuals to consume and cultivate cannabis. Without The hard work of the activists who came before us we would not be where we are today. For that I am Grateful!!!!

    Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying these individuals who have MBAs are any more qualified to run a cannabis business then you are however I can tell you that economists think about things differently especially when it comes to cannabis. Full disclosure I am a not an economist and my girlfriend wants to kill me because I am horrible with money and can never pay rent but just yesterday I happened to stumble across this article (http://www.420magazine.com/forums/cultivation-scientific-data/250742-economics-grow.html) after reading that I was like damn that guy thinks way way differently than I do. This made me realize the value of having individuals from all walks of life represented in the cannabis industry.

    In summary, both Johnny Green and Jay smoker I know you guys are at the beginning of your careers with regard to Cannabis and I am being completely honest when I say this I can’t wait to see how you guys revolutionize the industry because I know you will. However similar to how you guys are putting in your hard work now I don’t think that it’s appropriate to put down other people whoever worked equally as hard. Because their parents may have had trust funds or whatever else does not make them bad people and does not necessarily mean that they don’t work hard to Achieve their goals in life. Let’s work together to end entitlement in all ways shape and forms. So together we can make an inclusive world were people are recognized for their hard work and not entitlements.

    People of Tacorum

  16. So how is this different than any other job anywhere? The rich do what they want Republican or Democrat they’re all crooks that’s why they’re rich it’ll never change until we dethrown all their rich butts…

  17. I hope they sort this out immediately and right what is wrong. Life is short, and the lives of those who are sick are shorter so please, just get the necessary treatment for these people, cannabis or not, and then have everybody get along. This is what Budslist fully supports.

  18. I so agree! Why can’t the industry just “do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing”? The most important part of any business is their workforce. Not the amount of money the owners make or how many “businesses” they own. Even law makers and lawyers ran away!

    Would love to chat with you about these things. Please feel free to contact me so I can share my story with you in detail. I think you’ll find me a strong allie.

  19. Poor people grew up to get MBAs too. There are even a few poor people who have MBAs around, sometimes because of health problems that cannabis can help with. I know that first hand.

    In my state, the caste system has nothing to do with MBAs and everything do with kissing the butt of the right Democrats in power. And still, almost 3 years later, not one patient has gotten cannabis for their health problems and one cannabis blunt will still get you locked in cage.

    Enjoy Oregon, the Democrats in much of the rest of the country could care less if you aren’t a big time campaign donor, which is the real caste system.

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