The modern Cannabis Movement consists of the Cannabis Industry and the Cannabis Cause. The more successful the Cannabis Movement becomes, the more the Industry and Cause emerge as distinct branches of the same tree. These branches compliment each other and engage in different types of activism. This article focuses on the newer and less public branch — the Cannabis Industry.
In several states, now that the Cannabis Movement has allowed for the Cannabis Industry to open its doors and engage in (often heavily regulated) business, the Cannabis Industry is engaging in its own focused types of activism. Business-driven activism often deals with zoning regulations, permitting requirements, building codes, and labor practices. The Cannabis Industry is just as likely to be involved in a local ordinance as it is to be involved in statewide laws.
The Cannabis Industry has to deal with day-to-day banking matters, regulatory compliance, remitting of taxes, and so on. Market segmentation is occurring, and within the industry are competing interests between farmers, dispensaries, labor groups, transporters, product producers, supply stores, nutrient companies, and equipment manufacturers. These different persons and groups have a great deal in common, but also diverge at points.
Why Multiple Groups Seem to Represent the Same People
This divergence isn’t anything new. It’s always been this way in the Cannabis Movement. The Cannabis Cause has similar dynamics. Multiple groups exist to serve seemingly the same constituents, with similar causes, that desire similar outcomes. Sometimes groups diverge over matters of policy. Some groups want to see a “Free The Weed!” set of outcomes. Others want to see incremental policy advancement on decriminalization. Some are strictly medical focused. Others are focused expressly on recreational adult use. These different persons and groups have a great deal in common, but also diverge at points.
There will likely be robust mutual self-enrichment as both the Industry and Cause mature. The increased presence of Industry actors in the Cause will give rise to greater financial accountability, clearer policy objectives, and a focus on measurable outcomes among activism groups. Non-profits and activism groups across the social spectrum struggle with such things because their source of income is often divorced from their primary activity.
This robust mutual self-enrichment can, and should, flow both ways. Cause actors increasingly are a presence in the Industry. This will give rise to an Industry that is more socially minded, civil rights focused, and integrated with the larger business and non-profit communities in America. Financial entrepreneurship goes hand-in-hand with social entrepreneurship, and the unique Cannabis Subculture will reward businesses that reflect those unique values.
The Industry and The Cause Need Good People
Persons of good will are needed to bridge this gap. Issues like patient access and rational adult use regulations are integral to the Cannabis Movement as a whole. Both the Industry and the Cause will maximize their self-interests by working towards fair and just regulations and laws for businesses and individuals that are best for society as a whole.
Together the Industry and the Cause make up the modern Cannabis Movement. Each legitimizes the other. If persons of good will can work together to bridge this gap, American society can realize significant gains.