Activism. It’s absolutely mandatory for Cannabis entrepreneurs. Without the work of activists and advocates who have driven the grassroots fight for Cannabis freedom, there would not be a legal Cannabis industry today. Period. So pay your respects, but also step up and do your part. If you’re a cannabis entrepreneur and you have not contributed to the activism required to free the plant, then you don’t deserve to profit from the boom. That’s just my opinion. But I’m willing to bet a lot of OG’s and industry leaders who have risked their freedom and well-being for decades would agree with me.
The legal cannabis industry is a gateway revolution
It will create subsequent revolutions. It will transform medicine, agriculture, government, business and much more. This is what makes the industry so incredibly exciting. $50 Billion dollars, a change of federal law, the transition from black to legal market, a renewed interest in plants, a new type of industry where diversity and gender equality are established up front.
We do not know how these paradigm shifts will play out years from now, but there is no doubt that they will set off many other reactions that nobody can fully anticipate.
If you’re not ready to commit to Cannabis activism, you should seriously consider whether or not Cannabis entrepreneurship (or investment) is right for you. A commitment to activism demonstrates a commitment to Cannabis culture and an interest in the industry that extends beyond financial gain.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with seeking financial gain. However, if you really want to achieve the highest level of success in Cannabis business, consider this: most of the top people are not primarily motivated by money.
Now this is speculation, but my gut tells me that the people who have been running this industry for the past few decades care about personal freedoms and a human being’s right to enhance his own consciousness or to grow a plant of her choosing. They are in this for the long haul.
Money likely is not the #1 thing that drives them to do the work they do. If you want relationships with the power players in this industry, the best of the best, you better have proof that you’re down for the cause.
Understanding ‘The Cause’
Cannabis is a plant. It has countless benefits. Humans —not just Americans— should be free to grow a plant. Millions of lives have been unjustly ruined by Cannabis prohibition. A disproportionately large segment of that group is young men of color who are victims of a system created to serve racist, evil agendas.
Who will advocate on behalf of the people with criminal records and limited options to make an honest living? Or those still in jail? Who will provide the voice lobbying on behalf of those disadvantaged people? How will those people who have lost their liberties be made whole?
What about all the sick people who are being prevented access to safe, natural medicine? How come the government makes it so difficult to research this plant’s medical properties? How can we take advantage of this plant to make advances in public health?
When you consider chronic pain, cancer, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, ADHD, HIV, and PTSD, there are millions of people in America that can benefit from whole-plant Cannabis-based medicine. Who is going to advocate and lobby on behalf of these sick people?
Change comes from the bottom up
How do laws get changed in your state? By ballot initiative or referendum? What legislation has been proposed in your state? Have you voiced your opinions to your elected officials? Is there a local organization educating politicians about Cannabis? Who is helping patients in your community? What are the attitudes of local health care providers?
Community boards, city councils, state legislatures, congress members, union leaders and, of course, donors. These are just some of the characters that play a role in political reform. Being a productive Cannabis citizen includes being a productive citizen.
For laws to change AND BE WRITTEN IN A WAY THAT PROTECT CANNABIS VALUES, passionate, educated people must engage in the political process. Organizations like Marijuana Policy Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Americans for Safe Access, and Drug Policy Alliance are leading the charge on a national level.
Get familiar with the work they’re doing and how you can contribute. And, of course, vote!
Once you’re ready to put your activist pants on, understand that entrepreneurship in Cannabis is unlike any other industry.
About the Author
Mike Z is a Brooklyn-based Leadership Coach and entrepreneur. He’s the Founder of High NY, New York’s #1 Cannabis community. Mike is also the bestselling author of “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Cannabis”. His TED talk challenges those unfamiliar with the plant to “Think Differently about Cannabis”. Follow him on Twitter @HiMikeZ.