We live in a world where social media influencers are entirely fabricated from scratch. Where banks and governments are no longer the sole custodians of capital. Where (in theory at least) companies can run themselves using technology alone.
Where entire economic models can be created and access granted to the like-minded.
Yes, we splash around in the neon shallows of a vaporwave world; in which the weird sci-fi societies that humanity’s great creative minds once envisaged finally seem to be coming to fruition. But still, cannabis remains illegal. And legal. Often in the same breath.
Yup, despite cannabis’ runaway success at a state-by-state level (19 out of 50 + DC both medical and recreational and counting…) the good old US of A still needs to federally legalize the Great Green Plant and its cornucopia of incarnations. But even when (and it is a ‘when’) it does, legality will be problematic.
Even in Canada where recreational marijuana is completely legal, issues persist around everything from taxation, packaging, distribution, retail, marketing – the whole enchilada and more.
But, ultimately, having problems like these to contend with is, well, a good thing. Why, you ask? Because where there are problems, there are solutions. And the pursuit of solutions keeps us asking the right questions.
As renowned cannabis advocate and Oaksterdam University’s executive chancellor, Dale Sky Jones, asserted (most eloquently, I might add) on a recent edition of the MJBiz podcast: we need to be in love with problems – especially if we want real change to happen in a positive way.
But boy, what a whole hectare of issues the cannabis sector presents us with!
Even without delving into horticulture or any other ‘plant touching’ areas of the business, dispensaries and ancillary cannabis companies are under pressure to do things by the book.
The issue is, however, that even though many cannabis businesses have contributed individual chapters to the proverbial book, someone else gets to publish it. Plus it doesn’t help that the book’s still being written and edited – at the exact same time – by any number of other active participants.
Take the whole route to market – the licensing lotteries requiring high rollers to dig deep for the chance to open a dispensary. Or the myriad of marketing restrictions that essentially coerce brands to digitally differentiate themselves away from the point of sale in some jurisdictions, and in others, well, it’s open season.
Or how about the fact (in Canada, at least) a select number of M&A players seem set to roll up craft growers at a rate of knots. They may even be rubbing their hands with glee at news that the taxation rates thrust upon craft cannabis are squeezing their margins to the point of bankruptcy.
And that’s before we get into the social stigmas and bureaucratic barriers around access to banking, investment capital, delivery, the danger of making health claims, and just getting to grips with the sheer volume of strain and cultivars out there – not to mention the cannabis compounds (gotta know your THC from your CBD), terpene profiles, and different ways to experience ‘the herb’.