Can Cannabis Be Normalized?
One of my favorite quotes from my interview with Chelsea Handler in the current issue of Green Entrepreneur magazine -- and there are many -- is when she said, “The world is only getting browner, gayer, and higher, so you’d better hop on the bus.” Just four years ago, who could have imagined that today, 12 U.S. states would permit the use of recreational marijuana -- with more predicted to decriminalize the plant in 2020?
The legal weed train has left the station, and there’s no turning back. But how mainstream will marijuana become? I’m writing this note from Los Angeles, the epicenter of the cannabis business, where every street corner has a fancy billboard for a new dispensary or brand. MedMen, which has been called the Apple store of weed, has an expensive ad campaign calling cannabis use “the new normal.” This is a clever phrase, and I want to believe it’s true, but I wonder if some of us are living in a bubble.
There’s a tug of war going on in the industry today. Some people welcome cannabis with open minds and wallets, while others still consider it “the devil’s lettuce.”
Even in so-called progressive communities like Brookline, Mass., residents staged a protest rally when the news dropped of a retail pot shop opening on their streets. The tony Santa Barbara region in California is booming with outdoor grows, but when locals kept complaining that it smelled like a Phish concert, cultivators were forced to find a solution or risk being sued. National fitness industry giants such as Equinox and SoulCycle are carrying CBD lines, but when Ricky Williams and others tried to open a weed gym, called Power Plant Fitness (great name, btw), in San Francisco, regulations made it impossible.
The cannabis movement has made tremendous progress -- economically, socially, and legally -- but there’s still work to be done. Education is the word on every smart entrepreneur’s lips. The more people understand the benefits of the plant, the more the deep-seated stigma starts to wither away.
That’s why some dispensary owners meet with community members to allay concerns before opening stores. And that’s why Handler will include personal notes with each of her products explaining what dose to take and feeling to expect. If everyone in the business continues to educate, the question won’t be whether cannabis can be normalized; the question will be when.