It’s not what you think, nothing like a social media network or the latest technology. A network that in most cases, goes beyond marijuana, opening access to other drugs. In 1996 with Proposition 215, California became the first state to have a regulated medical marijuana market. And in 2003 U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Between 1996 (age 8) when I was prescribed to Ritalin, and my early teenage years involving marijuana, this was when my drug network took inception. In a legal sense, a drug network includes a healthcare system. But in the unregulated market, a drug network consists of a moral system, backed by unique ways of distribution. Today, most states have decriminalized weed, attempting to separate from the underground market. Every day the regulated marijuana industry is growing, creating a marijuana network, separated from other drugs. Like other drugs that are federally illegal, a smaller more consistent approach to distribution has been more significant than the risk of a more massive network. The battle between how many you know vs. the truth of few is the same philosophy used in selling, harder more dangerous drugs. It is more beneficial to have a trusted and stable relationship with fewer, who display high-quality attributes such as loyalty, and reliability.

After marijuana prohibition, the industrialization of cannabis became popular during the 90’s and 00’s. The best weed has been known to grow in CA, AZ, NV, & Mexico. Many small independent networks have found ways to get weed to New York and other pockets outside of the West Coast. Today, as marijuana laws are changing across California, the Northeast region and globally, unregulated handlers will redistribute risk through small cultivation methods and alternative consumption products. Small cultivations are home and backyard grows, non-industrial. Alternative consumption methods are products such as vapes and edibles.

These products are helping change public perceptions as they are non-traditional compared to “smoking” weed. Yet, the unregulated market is nearly three times the size of the regulated market, while overall consumption is increasing. If you are someone who’s used marijuana off and on over the years, you might be fed up with the buying process and inconsistency of your weed guy, and now you are ready to get a receipt with your purchase. Or you could even be a patient, upset with the medical dispensing system. With Over 50 million Americans who have used marijuana at least once a year, consumption will continue to increase through medicinal practice and alternative consumption methods. The gap between the regulated and unregulated market lies in public perception and public opinion and of course, laws and licensing. A marijuana network for a licensed company is an extensively vast network organized to persuade public perception by offering products, services, and information.

Lawmakers and businesses struggle to bridge the disproportionate gap between the growing opioid addiction issue and the targeting of minorities, leading to arrest and incarceration. Both drug issues are often separated but should not be. Historically, black males have the highest arrest rate for marijuana, while statistics show opioid usage increasing amongst a generation of young to middle-aged white men. Minorities and whites use pot at the same rate, yet minorities remain targeted. And due to the socio-economic difference generally, whites have more access to healthcare networks which include pharmacists, physicians, and other practicing providers. At the height of targeted drug arrest and generational drug usage, there are good people in my life on both sides who have struggled.

The marijuana industry needs more equitable opportunities for minorities while also providing restorative justice for those who were affected and are struggling after catching an offense. To reduce the amount of pain pills a generation is consuming, healthcare providers need to have the chance to prescribe and or recommend marijuana without being chastised. Sharing historical information and empowering people with real stories bridge the social justice and addiction gap. Managing restorative action for minorities while decreasing the prescription of opioids, is my idea of a drug network. An unbiased, non-divisional, non-discriminative network that consciously addresses all drug issues while bringing communities together.