On the Shoulders of Giants: Why Advocacy Matters

Feb 04, 2015

banking, industry, MedMen

The following guest post, contributed by MedMen, is part of a series providing insights into the legal marijuana industry.

As the “wall” of prohibition begins to crumble, businesspeople are lining up to cross over into the world of legal marijuana. They would be wise to remember that one of the only reasons they are able to even peek over that wall is because they are standing on the shoulders of giants: giants who invested blood, sweat, and tears into grassroots activism, lobbying, and ballot initiatives; giants who risked (and in some cases served) prison terms in pursuit of helping seriously ill patients; giants who helped bring down that wall despite having little to gain on the other side.

Many of the entrepreneurs and investors coming into the industry have their sights set high and rightfully so. This is a unique moment in history, in which a widely demanded product is in the process of transitioning from an illegal marketplace to a legal one. There is nothing wrong with being business-minded, and it is this transition from basements to boardrooms that will make the dream of legal marijuana a reality (and become one in those states that have yet to end prohibition). The industry must remain compliant and sustainable if it is to ever get a federal green light.

But they must keep in mind that it’s not all just about dollars and cents. It’s about laws that make sense, and passing them is not always easy.

 The industry outlook is favorable today only because of the advocates who came before. In order to keep that outlook positive and to improve on its current position, industry leaders must commit to supporting advocacy efforts. Just as quickly as states approved laws making marijuana legal for adult and/or medical use, they could repeal them. And just as quickly as federal directives opened the door to state programs, banking, and the like, those orders can be rescinded if the next administration sees fit.

Only by continuing to support advocacy can members of the marijuana industry ensure that they will not find themselves on the list of those jailed due to outdated (or newly reinstated) prohibition laws.

Often, industry leaders lack the time, resources, or expertise necessary to effect change. Luckily, there are organizations dedicated to advocating for sensible marijuana policy at both the state and federal levels. By contributing money and other resources to these groups, industry leaders can keep the policy ball rolling forward — and ensure it doesn’t get rolled back.

Money everywhere is tight, but keep in mind it is these groups that are changing minds and changing laws. They are the ones ending marijuana prohibition and replacing it with new, legal markets. Today’s advocacy investments will pay dividends down the line for businesses and for society.

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