Growing up in a weed culture, most dealers I knew had other hustles. In fact, selling weed was usually the side hustle while working another job helped diversify your income. From all the side hustlers I knew, the mentality has always inspired me. My dad is a tremendous inspiration in my life because he developed a side hustle. My dad has held down a job at UPS for over 30 years. During his employment at UPS, my dad found a side hustle. No, not selling weed, but a power washing business. In my teenage years, I worked the family business while also staying involved in the weed culture. Nearly ten years later, entering the legal marijuana industry, marijuana businesses are still a side hustle! A full-time job in the industry is a side hustle.
The industry is full of private companies owned by venture capital groups, bankers, investors and successful real estate personnel. Because the legal sector is capital intensive, many marijuana businesses got their start with a “side hustle” mentality by successful professionals who have little to no experience with the culture but with access to capital. The legal green rush industry is a side hustle that is developing without the sense of the marijuana culture. You’ve heard the legal market is growing at a rapid speed. But you also know the unregulated habits are not in a rush to go anywhere.
As a culture, how do we merge the legal and unregulated market? From a political standpoint, pleasing the majority is the easy answer. In a nationwide survey, 57 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana in 2016 compared to just 52 percent of the country in 2014.
End of story, let’s make it legal! Ha, it’s not that easy but let’s start with decriminalization on a federal level.
Decriminalized marijuana across the nation is bound to happen, but for you un-licensed side hustlers, this doesn’t mean the law condones your actions. For example, in states that have decriminalized weed, if the law enforcement finds you with pot and depending on the amount, you’ll likely pay a fine while they confiscate your stash. If you enlist in state medical programs, the system will protect you from paying a fine or getting your stash seized, but it does depend on the amount you are carrying. At the federal level, a medical program would yield a similar policy regulated with a designated amount one can move around with at a time. In states that have decriminalized weed, creating a medical marijuana system is the next step.
With a therapeutic medical system in place, the side hustle mentality extends to healthcare professionals. Medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and healthcare educators might find themselves in a grey area when patients ask about the benefits of marijuana. Many healthcare professionals have no formal education on the medicinal features of the plant, so they do their independent research to sharpen their knowledge. Legally, no-one can prescribe marijuana to a patient but only make recommendations. After advice, a patient would be on their own to decide where and how they want to acquire marijuana. Here is where it gets tricky, the gaps lie in production, sales, and consumption regulations.
For production, a regulated market guides the standardization of marijuana potency and strain contents through testing. For marijuana purchases, the tax revenue significantly increases for cities and states that allow the transactions. And for users that consume marijuana, their side hustling friend likely doesn’t have the variety along with the tested potency and strain preference a regulated shop has. There is no question, decriminalizing marijuana and introducing a medical or adult market will benefit society as an entirety.
For the side hustlers, why wouldn’t you want to reduce your risk to make legal money in the fastest growing industry in the United States? Why can’t you just flip a switch to take your marijuana experience and knowledge to the right grind? I’m here to tell you that you can. I’m here to tell you to work and keep working because it is not easy. Nothing worth having comes easy, and although we share the same side hustle mentality, we might not share the equal access to resources that capital groups, bankers, investors, successful real estate personnel, even health care professionals might have. You might be in a community that is targeted for drug arrests, and when you look at the legal marijuana market, you don’t see yourself and your community represented. You know the history of minorities targeted and statistically four times as likely to get arrested for marijuana, even though whites use pot at the same rate while over 90% of the legal industry is owned and operated by non-minorities. To your knowledge, these facts prove that you have to take a different approach when entering the legal market. And once the government decides to decriminalize marijuana, play a role to integrate a system that guides the culture and merges the legal and unregulated market.
My experience with side hustles and the marijuana culture, my progression through college as an athlete who faced injuries and went through the healthcare system, my succession through business school and my professional background in the health/medical, pharmaceutical and energy industry, all these milestones gives me a perspective to encourage the side hustle. From a side hustlers to a business owner in the marijuana industry, the integration of the unregulated and regulated market is best done through education, not incarceration and entrepreneurship, not industrial or monopolize marijuana cultivation.
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