The Only Constant Is Change

July 4, 2023 · MG Magazine

Here we are, going through another quirky cycle in the cannabis industry. During times of change and downturn, many pause to reflect where they are—and where they’ve been. I found myself doing exactly that as I took a two-week break from a crazy twelve months of heavy travel in my first year with Grove Bags. With so many others sharing their challenges and frustrations with the current state of the industry, I suppose this moment inevitably would have come for me. But admittedly, it’s rarer for me to pause and reflect given my constant “onward and upward” mentality. I’m always trying to be a better me, and I take the same approach with the businesses I represent.

The first thing that crossed my mind: This year marks a decade that I’ve been working in the legal cannabis space. While it’s truly been a time warp and even a blur to a certain extent, that’s a long time to be engulfed in a constant state of flux. Like many others, I’ve been grinding away, constantly adjusting to the latest rules, regulations, trends, management, you name it. As it was for tech startups during the early dotcom days, our mantra in this industry is “the only constant in life is change.”

One very dear friend who was absolutely killing it for a brand in northern California shared his position on the topic. Although I caught up with him during Weed Week in Las Vegas last November, we didn’t have enough time for a true heart-to-heart, and I could tell he wasn’t his usual self. He was tired; almost a little defeated. We recently had time to reconnect, and he told me he’s pivoting into sports supplements because he got “burnt out on NorCal.” However, he followed up by saying he hopes to return to cannabis once “the weirdness” is sorted out. I can’t blame him for taking a break, to be honest. He put his all into everything he did, and to have the target constantly move just as you have your sights dialed in can be tiresome for even the strongest, most dedicated industry leaders, no matter the category or industry.

As disheartening as our experience can be in today’s industry, friends like Ed Rosenthal and the late Dennis Peron had a bigger fight with far less support. They put everything, including their liberty, on the line for this plant, this community, and eventually this industry. Nobody warned me how frustrating the path might be when I entered the legal space, but I didn’t need a warning. Some of us recognize the signs of rough waters, and we do just as a captain would do when confronted by a storm—go through or around it. Never wait for it to come to you.

Is it exasperating for us in the United States to see other countries legalize in a matter of years? Sure. As a country that boasts about “defending the free world,” you’d think we could more easily right our wrongs and move forward. That might be true if the people in power at the time hadn’t initiated prohibition for the wrong reasons in the first place. Keep in mind the U.S. government was doing extensive testing on cannabis and hallucinogens just months before Nixon launched his war on drugs, which we all now know was a war on certain people. But just like your ex who never said they were sorry, the U.S. government is extremely stubborn and hates to say it was wrong, let alone that it made a mistake that cost so many lives and wasted so much money. Bad ideas of the twentieth century eventually will die off, literally and figuratively.

Where do we go from here? We continue to fight this fight for legalization and normalization. We have come so far as a community and an industry. Look at how much the conversation around cannabis has changed in recent years. It’s an odd observation, but 4/20 is a great example of the national ideological shift toward cannabis. Back in the early days of legalization, the celebrations were huge. I recall the first big 4/20 celebration after adult use kicked off in Denver. Civic Park, literally located at the steps of the state capital, was one enormous cloud of smoke. Folks from all backgrounds came together. Now such events attract a fraction of the crowds they once drew, transitioning from “protestivals” to festivals of celebration for the freedom of the plant.

As other global superpowers like Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom move forward with federal legalization, whether medical or recreational, we will come around back home in the U.S., as well. The strongest will survive in the world of capitalism, and everything will shake out. The industry will find a balance between micro- and macro-producers, similar to what eventually occurred in the alcohol industry. And like our friends in the Great White North, people will vote with their wallets. Some will want the cheapest option, while others will pursue the highest quality and best experience for their dollar.

As for me, I had my zen moment. Like so many others who have been going at it for so long, I acknowledged my desire to see this through. I signed up to be part of something bigger than me—bigger than any of us alone. Cannabis has saved lives and inspired others to give up poison for a pleasure that helps—not hurts—our bodies and minds.

Does everyone in the industry see themselves as part of a larger objective? No. Some are focused solely on building their own brand or billfold, but so it goes in any industry. Those most rewarded and content are the ones who know they made a difference. I implore you to stay in the game and look up. The clouds often clear when you least expect it. (Full Story)

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