Having been a cannabis advocate since I was 15 years old, I've become almost numb to the ignorance of the prohibitionists around the world. My approach has always been to attempt to educate and have civil discussions with even the most closed minded of people. After 30 years, I'm finally fed up and just here to say, GET OVER IT!
Cannabis companies know all too well the struggles of trying to navigate the treacherous waters of this industry. Simple tasks in most business ventures, such as opening a bank account or promoting themselves on social media pose major complications for any cannabis business. New challenges arise daily and many entrepreneurs are willing to face them head on in hopes of cashing in on the fastest growing industry in the world. Like most, I've accepted the fact that these road blocks exist, however, the absurdity of these complications is something that needs to be addressed. Let's examine some of the more inane examples:
Social media has completely changed the way our society consume's information, timelines are filled with current trends peppered with advertisements based on the viewer's online habits. Platforms like Facebook are literal marketing goldmines and have helped many companies products or services go viral overnight, a luxury not enjoyed by past generations and not by cannabis entrepreneurs. The major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have all taken a pretty firm stand on no cannabis advertisements. Many canna businesses, including well known companies like High Times, have had their pages shut down at one time or another for "violation of community standards". Hanging their hat on the fact that cannabis has not yet achieved legalization at the federal level, these platforms will not even entertain advertisement for ancillary services such as events. Just this past year Boston Cannabis Week had ads taken down for educational events, a golf tournament, wellness expo, and the music & arts festival, Xperience Boston. Social Media is turning away hundreds of millions of dollars in cannabis advertising every year and keeping cannabis entrepreneurs at a disadvantage.
Charity? We don't want your stinking charity!
In one of the more bizarre prohibitionist moves we have witnessed, a charitable organization just a few weeks ago turned away a donation from a cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts. CommCan, who operates a recreational dispensary in Millis and a medical dispensary in Southborough, recently ran a fundraiser to donate money to a local homeless shelter. The day before the donation was set to be made, the shelter's parent company notified CommCan that they did not want the dispensaries donation. This is nothing new as many charitable organizations have turned away similar donations out of fear of losing federal funding. So in short, money that could have gone to provide food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare, to many homeless people, was turned away due to fear mongering. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies consistently top the list of political contributors each year and no one bats an eye, while the country's opiate crisis continues to grow.
Don't say the word "bag"
Outside of actually growing and selling the plant, there are many ancillary businesses who are not violating federal law, but merely provide support services, news outlets, education and events, just to name a few. Events, in particular, have been a massive component of the cannabis culture. Look at pictures from Woodstock in 1969 and you are almost guaranteed to see festival goers peacefully partaking in cannabis related festivities. Music and cannabis go hand and hand, just don't advertise it as such or you won't be able to sell tickets. While ticketing platforms such as Eventbrite have allowed their platform to be used for some cannabis education events, it's not without its nuances. In 2019, Several BCW events featuring golf, health & wellness, art & music, had links removed from Eventbrite for a mention of gift bags. Yes, you heard that right, gift bags. Without warning, ticket links were disabled and customers were refunded their money for tickets purchased. When questioned, the ticketing service provider explained the word "bag" triggered their internal audit, and this was viewed as illegal gifting. In the state of Massachusetts it is legal to gift up to an ounce of flower to another individual over the age of 21. For the record, the gift bags were intended and described to contain apparel, golf accessories and skin care products. Previously, some have used this gifting loophole as a means to openly sell cannabis on the black market, by using ticketing platforms such as Eventbrite to sell tickets to underground events. As a result, Eventbrite took the stance of shutting down any event with the mention of "bags" in the description.
These are just a few examples of bizarre obstacles facing today's cannabis entrepreneur. The industry is growing faster than even experts predicted and it's now time to let the industry flourish. As federal legalization is on the horizon, these roadblocks will diminish, and the stigma will be lifted. Get over it, cannabis is here to stay.