What Social Good in Cannabis Looks Like
Here, reporting lives from the deep end of cannabis entrepreneurship and maintaining an in-depth culture perspective as big corporate cannabis attempts to steamroll social good. They support cannabis legalization for profit and not for freedom or justice.
If you are unfamiliar with what's been going on in the legal Weed Market here in MA, please know the fight for a balanced market continues. The best part of balance is finding common ground.
Big money groups have a sense of entitlement, while marginalized communities do not trust political systems because of the inherent and perpetual nature of continuous systemic oppression. We can talk of social good in cannabis because we all agree on the scope of wrongdoings inherent to specific communities, some more obvious than others.
Here are five communities that are negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition:
- People of Color: there is no reason to dive into statistics; unfortunately, the darker your skin color, the more likely you are to get arrested for cannabis. This wrongdoing is fabricated into society and has been around for generations. On the inverse, as if access to capital and ownership of real estate wasn't already part of the problem, an immensely fast-growing industry is introduced after blatant racism has occurred and is normalized. That can start the feeling that the industry, regulators, and operators are generally discriminatory by nature.
- Veterans: if the world smoked more weed, there would be less war. The weed vs. war theory holds merit, yet conflict is lucrative, so those who fight for our country cannot use cannabis. Even after they've served and navigated back into society, there are many benefits, like Healthcare, housing, and education, they are putting in jeopardy if associated with cannabis. It's silly, but when the federal government de-schedules cannabis, many and women who served this country have a better chance at integrating cannabis more sustainably and are likely to benefit the most over those impacted by prohibition.
- Senior Citizens: this segmentation of people has likely lied to the most and the least likely to be "woke." They have seen a lot, and they keep watching without much action, other than treatment. These are our grandparents, who grew up when racism was legal. They watched the fight for civil rights and kept their privilege while others expected some change. The wealth gap has grown larger since the 1960s, leaving many tired and others desperate. Even those who see the plant's actual benefits find it easier to glorify its work rather than recognize the past harms. They are on their way out yet still remind us to respect our elders and history.
- Disabilities: both mental and physical disabilities can benefit from cannabis. There is a range of issues that cannabis can treat. And during the pandemic, anxiety and depression are relevant. Cannabis is not for everyone, just like people who don't know how to swim. Those who can stay afloat have known how cannabis can help with these issues. And many are deeply afraid to try or let go of other treatments in life. Let's take the experiences for disabilities seriously and properly integrate cannabis.
- Queer - the community certainly helped shape the industry bringing light to HIV & AIDS treatment. And in a state like MA, all licensed cannabis companies have to create and execute a yearly diversity plan. The queer community and the other communities listed above, including women, are included under fulfilling a diversity plan. The devil is in the detail as well as the accountability. Many companies struggle to have a diverse workforce where the most apparent issue is garnering talent from the black and brown community. It's essential to include all marginalized communities and folks that identify as LGBT might be subjective and less obvious comparatively speaking.
Cannabis social good puts people first. Much like women benefiting from the civil rights movement's work under black leadership, cannabis legalization is within the same light. Compared to licensing and profit, the marijuana battles waged for years on the backs of people of color's arrested and over-policed areas. Unfortunately, after decades of unequal treatment, the gap continues to rise. But here is something you can do today to make. And not to think short-term only, here are some long-term suggestions as well.
- Consumers have social power - spend your cannabis dollars wisely. If the cannabis company has run-of-the-mill leadership and doesn't put some sort of social "feel good" message in your face, do not shop with them. Nine times out of 10 - they are mainly concerned with creating shareholder value, and those shareholders can care less about you as a customer or the harms of prohibition.
- Look for diverse leadership - you should know it when you see it. Not only do ethnically diverse teams look refreshingly different, but they act different and bring extra good energy. Spending money in a diverse environment will make you feel good like you are in nature.
- Hold local and state government accountable - word on the street is that the regulators also invest in these larger, big-money businesses and have vested interest in delaying and or monopolizing. We are in polarizing times where we are more connected than ever, even though we are socially distant. It seems like the whole world is listening, so make noise if you don't like what's going on with your local and state cannabis politics.
- Take a look around the local community - if the community accepts and integrates into the cannabis companies' commerce, you should feel good about doing business with them. Many cannabis businesses quickly got to the market without a solid plan to build with local businesses. You want to look out for those cannabis companies who are spending time working with their neighboring businesses to promote, attract, and retain commerce to the area. In other words, the neighborhood treats you like they want to see you come back. Usually, that means ample parking and other destinations like eating establishments, bars, or parks to visit when it's time for you to buy weed.
Now that you have explicit concepts around which communities were and still are the most impacted by foolish laws while also being armed with meaningful yet straightforward ways to make an impact, you now can move towards social good when it comes to cannabis. The state of MA has exclusively created cannabis delivery licenses for many of the communities listed above.
Will an exclusive delivery license be enough to crack the code of a fair and equitable cannabis market? Stay tuned for updates on how it all plays out. Until then, make buying decisions with cannabis sellers that make you feel good about your purchases and give you a story to share with others. Think about the people and not just the product.