January 21, 2016

If the cannabis industry is to experience the explosive growth predicted, the industry’s image must continue to grow. The influx of investment money into the cannabis culture is contributing to the industry’s evolution. Unified state initiatives will succeed better than fractured ones, and although Federal law remains unchanged, marijuana reform has become a Presidential campaign issue.

Industry Image

The image of the cannabis industry has changed for the better. In some places, the change has been incremental, in others astronomical. From casual recreational partakers to growers, dispensary owners, and cannabis bakers, people associated with the cannabis industry are seeing their professional reputations grow positively.

Marijuana has always been a counterculture, a revolt against the Establishment. Thus, it’s been regarded with suspicion by mainstream or corporate America:

  • People who smoke dope are slackers
  • Their enterprises have no legitimacy
  • They get nothing accomplished, wasting their days and lives away in a hazy aftermath of bong rips

In recent years, we’ve seen anecdotal evidence that a fair number of the world’s business, science, sports, entrepreneur, entertainment, and even political leaders at least partially credit their success to gambits into the realm of weed. Cannabis users are now seen as ambitious, able to run mega-successful enterprises, and capable of innovating the world with their genius.

After decades of being a shadowy, mysterious “cool”, marijuana is now becoming mainstream “cool”.

But if cannabis hopes to continue its rise, its image must in turn continue to improve. Industry naysayers must be balanced by industry proponents, especially those who are universally respected and bring respectability, knowledge, and professionalism to the industry. Cases like that of Jeff Mizanskey, who served twenty years of a life sentence in prison for three non-violent marijuana crimes before being released in September of 2015, must be outright eliminated; no one should be imprisoned for personal cannabis use that has no negative consequences on the public at large.

The overwhelming success that Washington and Colorado have had since legalizing cannabis has been instrumental in bolstering the nation’s perception of the industry. But the progress must continue; the industry can’t grow in a healthy way if the nation continues to be at odds with itself.

California is a national, if not global, leader in all types of industries, and it’s always been a foregone conclusion that it would be at the forefront of cannabis legalization. Alas, though California did not become the first state to legalize recreational pot, it was the first to legalize medicinal marijuana and can still be an industry leader in the future.

More Funds in Pot’s Pot

The inevitable influx of Big Money into the cannabis industry has begun. And many in the industry are concerned. In fact, being wary of a monopolistic or oligopolistic threat to the industry was a major reason why the ResponsibleOhio initiative didn’t pass in 2015 (and created a stain on the fabric of the industry).

This is also a major concern here in California as we prepare to vote to legalize recreational marijuana in November. Initiatives that compete with one another will not result in a positive mainstream perspective of Big Pot. Nor will those that only line the pockets of a select few instead of provide a valuable service/product to the masses.

Initiatives need to be unified. This is the most effective way to create a more cannabis-friendly nation. Fortunately for us Californians, it appears we finally have a leading piece of legislation (the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act), aka “the Parker Initiative” which greatly enhances the chance for victory in November.

And this will benefit everyone associated with the industry, both in California and in America.

Lack of Progress Federally

Unfortunately, the Federal government’s unchanged attitude toward cannabis remains a thorn in the industry’s side.

Federal authorities continue to raid California collectives even as President Obama decrees publicly for the raids to stop. The highly-publicized CARERS Act and Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015 both fizzled due to Republican opposition in Congress. Even more so, strict banking laws make even the most mundane financial transaction almost impossible if not inconvenient and complicated.

Hope exists, though.

Cannabis reform has crept into Presidential campaign platforms. Several candidates are demonstrating support of some type of reform. The most notable is Bernie Sanders, who recently proclaimed that marijuana shouldn’t be a Schedule I offense.

As it stands, though, until Federal cannabis laws match up with state cannabis laws, no one associated with the cannabis industry will feel entirely comfortable; more importantly, any legitimate progress will be gradual, if not often static.

Have a specific question about your situation? Confused about ever-changing state and federal laws? Contact us at Manzuri Law.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.