Steve Jobs was a great example of an innovator and a visionary. In a big way, he delivered the cyber lifestyle to the consumer world, simply by making it friendly and accessible. By imagining the computer experience from the taste-buds of the user, he created an industry and a corporate giant. But he also did something subtle; he changed our concept of the computer – from the cyber-menacing HAL 9000 to a smooth-running, people-friendly tool-toy for the young and old – a friendly, juicy apple that beckons, “Here, have another delicious byte.” In place of HAL’s blinking red eye arose the smiling Apple – the modern home-computer experience.
Now it’s our turn. We have a great opportunity to transform the marijuana industry into a consumer-friendly lifestyle brand, a range of experiences that are productive, fun, healthy, interesting and safe for a diverse market. When we do that, we’ll open up the consumer market to an amazing range of shoppers. Everyone will benefit.
But, to see this vision through, we’ll need to accomplish two important tasks. First, we really need to lose these avoidable, bad practices that keep attracting attention to the widespread risk of toxins in our products. (The Denver Post website has an ENTIRE SECTION on “Pot Pesticides.” For real. We seriously need to adopt better techniques and prove them with verifiable standards. We are aware of viable agro-systems, which generally involve working with (instead of against) natural functions. In later columns I’ll write more about those systems.
For this column, I’ll focus on the second key task, which is to gain the public’s trust. Gaining this trust requires overcoming two stigmas – the reefer madness stigma and the toxic product stigma. The first stigma I’ll pass over for now, just to note that it is a direct product of politics and propaganda. The second stigma is equally insidious, but also, it’s equally compelling. So, let’s turn it into a juicy, delicious, nutritious apple by creating a reliable and meaningful standard that we can leverage into a global, user-friendly marijuana brand. This standard needs to go beyond proving we aren’t abusing chemicals. It needs to speak directly to the well-being of the community – to community health and sustainability. Publicity is already forcing our hand on pesticides, and soon enough it will force us on the sustainability issues.
Consumer health, community health and sustainability all add up to a big bite, just as consumer satisfaction, productivity and technology were a big byte for Apple. Happily, we have an available platform with the Precautionary Principle. It’s simple: “First, do no harm.” We can meet this standard. Anyone submitting a product or performing an activity affecting the public must guarantee and prove that the product or activity will not harm people or environment. That holds in the short term and the long term. This principle is reasonable and achievable, and it directly addresses the issues and cultural obstacles we are confronting. Whether or not we embrace it explicitly, we’ll have to recognize it on some level.
Indeed, initiative is the issue here. We can also call it proactive strategy, or we can call it innovation. Either style, it takes us back to Steve Jobs, the pot head whose innovation transformed the world. (Lest we forget, Steve toked.) Notably, Mr. Jobs’ genius wasn’t so much about his technical prowess as it was about his entrepreneurial sense. He had the ability to visualize a new way of doing things, to imagine and understand a potential market, to overcome big obstacles, and to harness all these factors with a robust and enduring brand. That’s innovation, and that’s what we’re ready to do as well.