The cannabis, CBD, and hemp industries are in their infancy. This means there is a lot of hope and optimism surrounding the future, but this hope doesn’t come without challenges.
I’ve been a member of the cannabis community for most of my life. I’ve seen firsthand the power of compassionate business owners and passionate advocates, and I believe in the ability of consumers to make smart choices when they’re armed with trustworthy information.
But as an industry, we are currently facing a major challenge.
Overregulation in the Cannabis Industry
There was some naivety about the industry in the earliest days. Many thought that our strong sense of community would naturally translate to the legal industry as regulation increased.
But we’re seeing, too often, how that regulation can lead to corruption and nepotism.
Now, when I say “overregulation”, in no way am I referring to safety and quality regulations. It has become increasingly clear that our industry needs more safety regulations, not fewer.
The type of regulation I am referring to is industry regulation. Restricted business licenses. A select group of officials deciding which businesses will be allowed to serve the public, instead of the market making those decisions.
I can think of a recent example where an incredibly established cannabis company—and a beloved member of the community—was inexplicably denied a license. The community was dumbfounded. It didn’t add up. Until the recipient of that license, a well-connected business owner, was announced.
There are countless examples like this all around the country. They increase as the regulation does. The result is a growing mistrust in the officials and in regulation in general. It robs the consumers of the opportunity to regulate the market by making purchases that align with their values. And it disables the community from being able to grow and thrive.
Don’t Give Up. Keep Trying.
Despite these reports, I’m not discouraged. The cannabis industry is in no way solidified. These challenges were inevitable and our community needs to overcome them if we want to preserve what is special about it.
What I’m saying is: we still have time to build an industry that reflects our values and our community.
To encourage a sense of community in the cannabis industry, advocate for safety regulation over competition regulation. This means less focus on restricting the number of business licenses and more focus on ensuring consumers can access safe, high-quality cannabis products.
If you’re a business owner and you’re having trouble getting a license in your area, don’t give up. Go where you’re welcome. What I mean by that is to find a space in the market where your business can thrive. Just because you’re facing roadblocks in one municipality doesn’t mean the one next door will pose the same challenges.
Get creative with your strategy and keep trying new approaches until you find something that sticks. Once you get yourself to a position of strength, you’ll be empowered to turn around and help lift the rest of the community up.