The Social And Political Responsibility Of The Legal Cannabis Industry

After 75 years of prohibition and propaganda have demonized cannabis and its consumers, industry participants must be involved in the political process – as individuals through our political donations, votes and vocalizations, and as business leaders in the manner in which we conduct our trade.

By David Rheins

This week nearly 100 women gathered at a restaurant in downtown Seattle to listen to local politicians and activists discuss their role in shaping Washington’s emerging legal marijuana industry.  The “Power of Politics” was organized by the Marijuana Business Association’s Women’s Alliance for its many women-run cannabis businesses, including sponsors Eden Labs, Washington Bud Company and Cannabis Basics.

Laughter, tears, passion, and personal herstories – there is something undeniably powerful about a gathering of women who turn out to talk about politics. The energy and determined strength that emerges when the community focuses on an issue of concern is palpable, and when those 100 women represent nearly as many legal cannabis businesses – the energy they create can transform the political and cultural landscape.

For while ostensibly the vote and the voice of every woman – and every man – are equal in importance to our representatives in government, those in the know will attest that the opinions of business owners speak loudest of all to politicians. For small and entrepreneurial businesses represent jobs, and jobs represent votes and tax revenues, and those are the things that elect and re-elect politicians.

The Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) believes that as the first generation of cannabis business owners and operators we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to positively shape the emerging marketplace and our local communities.  The new industry that we are building already represents millions of dollars of tax revenues and thousands of jobs and will only get bigger. As the first crop of business operators in the country’s fastest growing industry, we speak with loud voices.

After 75 years of prohibition and propaganda have demonized cannabis and its consumers, industry participants must be involved in the political process – as individuals through our political donations, votes and vocalizations, and as business leaders in the manner in which we conduct our trade.

The MJBA does not endorse any individual political party or politician, we see it our role to host the forums for cannabis businesses to gather, parse, discuss, distill and build consensus around relevant policy issues.  We facilitate discussion and of dissemination of relevant business intelligence and market data through our media properties like MJNewsNetwork and Marijuana Channel One, and professional education events like the MJBA Women’s Alliance “Power of Politics.”

The first legal cannabis businesses and the people who operate them are inherently political.  Each day we open our doors for business – planting, processing and selling the plant, or otherwise supporting the cannabis economy – we effect social change.  Every participant in the new legal cannabis economy is a revolutionary, changing public perceptions at every consumer touchpoint.  Each new brand identity that we create makes a political and cultural statement.

Post-prohibition culture is beginning to emerge one legal state at a time. The tone and ethos of that culture is being set by the first crop of legal cannabis brands. It is being shaped by the company cultures that we create, and in how we compensate and treat our employees. We are establishing our social values in the quality and purity of the products that we build and market, and in the manner in which we treat our customers.  Our success and sustainability as an industry will be dependent upon how we conduct ourselves as ethical businesses respectfully serving the needs of our local communities.

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