As an African American business leader in the cannabis industry, I believe it is important that I express my support for Proposition 64. As with any legislation that is developed by private citizens based on personal and public interests, there are undeniable flaws. However, as California citizens, we cannot get lost in the minutiae of its legalization and realize that the once unobtainable goal of cannabis legalization is at the precipice. State prohibition, as we know it will end. This has been a goal of cannabis advocates for over a half a century, and those who have been incarcerated, denigrated, ostracized for their love of this plant paved the way for today.
There are many in medicinal cannabis community who feel that this will destroy the cannabis culture that Prop 215 pioneers navigated. I disagree with this argument and put myself at philosophical odds with many of my friends, peers, and colleagues. Medicinal cannabis has had a profitable and powerful place in the legalization movement and we should all acknowledge the courage and financial commitment to take on the federal government. These trailblazers have risked it all, with the fear of losing everything they have built and believe in. Medicinal cannabis tax dollars have invigorated communities and brought in new businesses and innovation.
As a result of this struggle, the cannabis industry created a very insular community. The cannabis industry has been all about relationships and working with people you trust. Outsiders are looked on with suspicion and trepidation. So newcomers to the industry who are looking to create businesses in cannabis are on the outside of the bubble where money, politics, and opportunity are passed along with those you know.
There is another larger cannabis world out there. Where most people in the cannabis industry have been forced to operate. Only 1.5% of California’s population has a cannabis prescription. There are so many new cannabis people out there, they just don't know it yet. Through recreational cannabis, we will be able to reach many more people who might not have been comfortable being on lists or required to carry papers; people who have not thought that cannabis could serve a purpose in their lives.
It would be remiss for me not to mention those political prisoners, cannabis entrepreneurs and distributors who have not been wrapped in the warmer glow of medicinal cannabis and the legal status this industry provides. With this new legal status, opportunity for cannabis entrepreneurs and for innovation in cannabis will exponentially expand. Cannabis and its new and old users can shake the stigma of a schedule 1 illegal substance and use cannabis for its many medicinal and recreational uses.
Today, the cannabis industry gets bigger, the culture expands, it adapts. This movement is bigger than one city, person or one dispensary. This is about cannabis and its users, new and old, medicinal or recreational, receiving the acceptance and legal protection we all deserve.