Spring has finally arrived in Seattle, and the locals are beginning to come out from their winter roosts. The Cinco de Mayo Weekend was the unofficial kick off of the summer season, with lots of local festivities, including the Seattle Cannabis Freedom March – very important to many of us in the cannabis community.
Melissa Hysom, longtime medical cannabis activist and organizer of the Cannabis Freedom March, works tirelessly to organize this yearly iconic event. Activists from across the country travel to the Emerald City each year to march in support of cannabis legalization.
Outsiders may look at ‘legal’ Seattle wonder why we are still marching. Many aren’t aware of the real struggles that continue today. I was pleased to have been asked to speak at this year’s event — and had the pleasure of following my very good friends and mentors, Vivian McPeak and John Davis.
I wasn’t nervous, as I speak to smaller groups each day at Diego Pellicer, as part of my role as greeter and spokesperson for the popular cannabis shop in Seattle and as I lead Seattle Cannabis tour groups with Leila Ali, Tour Director at Kush Tours.
People from all over the world come to Jake the Professor to learn about cannabis. I make a point to tell my audience about the medicinal uses for cannabis, and relish the opportunity to demystify some myths they might have about cannabis.
I ask visitors to return to their state and tell their friends about what the hippie in Seattle taught them about Cannabis.
The Cannabis Freedom March is much the same, but bigger, and more dramatic. This yearly march was lead by some of the youngest activists in our community –Seattle Hempfest Volunteer, Morgan Davis and her friend Alyssa carried the traditional Freedom March banner. Morgan is the daughter of longtime activist and entrepreneur John Davis, and truly represents the future of our movement and our community.
As I took the podium, I wanted my message to be simple and close to my heart. I spoke about the need for unity in our industry. We sometimes forget that we all share the same struggles. Many of us do the exact same job as our competitors. Our companies share similar ambitions, goals and visions for a legal, profitable future. With all that shared positivity, there really isn’t any need or space to speak negative about our competition.
This industry is growing at a much faster rate than when John Davis and I began Northwest Patient Resource Center (NWPRC) in 2011. Back then, as it is now, we learned the necessity of working together and not working against one another. Now is a very sensitive time, we all need to come together as an industry with a unified message. We must stand for quality — quality products prepared by quality individuals.
As entrepreneurs we are driven to create the best products with integrity, with a sense of sustainability and accomplishment. Negative output about our competitors only distract us from being our best. The market will weed (no pun intended) out the companies and individuals who do not adhere to these principles.
I closed my speech by recognizing my mentors: Vivian McPeak, a good friend and Director of Seattle Hempfest, and John Davis — two better friends you could not find. I thanked them for championing my career, and helping me along the way.
I implored my audience not to spend time pointing out the problems of competitors. The market will seek its own level. Those that offer less than what the market demands will go out of business naturally. They won’t need help from us to bring them down. They are already working hard at that.
Perhaps the next time we find a crappy product or lousy gram of weed, we don’t write a three page review on Leafly of Facebook. Just scroll up! You should be too busy creating your own dreams, anyway.
Just be kind. Play nice with one another. All of us in the cannabis industry share the same struggles: struggles with LCB, struggles with partners, even struggles with employees. This business isn’t for everyone. Some companies will learn this in due time.
Be patient. ‘Scroll up’ if you don’t like something, and ‘like and share’ if you do. It brings out your best and puts you back on top!