It’s been over two years since cannabis has been legalized for recreational use and the industry is brimming with talent waiting to unleash what is to become the next economic boon for the United States economy, and it needs to be allowed to fully flourish with the intentions of those who voted for this paradigm shift, the consumer.
We at the Cannabis Consumers Coalition are excited about the new cannabis industry for the economic and revenue growth potential the new industry offers local economies, and hopefully soon, the federal economy. We fought for this. We wanted to have the right to consume cannabis without getting arrested or losing our jobs. And, because we fought for this, we want to see this brand new industry be very successful. Success, however, is relative. Success for a business is defined by significant returns on investments with the largest market share going to investors. This is accomplished by maximizing production, which may not always be with the consumer in mind. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition is working with groups and lawmakers to help set best practices and standardization within the industry that are consumer focused that are also profitable as well, so that both the industry and cannabis consumers can have their needs met.
Success for a consumer is defined by having confidence that the product he or she is purchasing is safe, high quality, and most importantly, is the indeed the product for which it is being marketed. Recently, multiple businesses were caught using unapproved pesticides and fungicides, and on top of that, many of these businesses also lied about being organic. This actually posed a safety issue because some consumers with compromised health depend on products that are grown without chemicals that could exacerbate their conditions. And then, perhaps even more shocking, some prominent people and attorneys in the industry rose up to defend the businesses for lying, stating that since the labeling of food as organic is a federal label, and therefor doesn’t apply to the cannabis industry, these businesses were exempt from being in trouble. What about honesty, integrity, and ethics? Currently, there are businesses who used poisonous pesticides and lied about being organic that are serving on stakeholder groups and helping to shape policy. How is that ethical?
Many policies in Colorado, which is a bellwether state for other states “experimenting” with legalization or considering it, have not been consumer-centric. Take for example the issue of not having anywhere cannabis consumers can go and consume cannabis socially. We have tourists coming to the state with no welcome mat and safe places to consume in, and even residents who voted for legalization are forced to continue to consuming cannabis in their basements and garages. Then, there are the recent policies in major cities in Colorado, such as Denver and Colorado Springs, restricting the growth of new recreational and medical cannabis businesses that would provide competition for better quality cannabis, more selection, and lower prices.
Major policy influencers representing industry trade groups, such as Michael Elliott of the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG), defended the decision by Denver officials on November 10, 0215 to recommend extending the moratorium on new businesses to Denver City Council, stating that the current number of businesses are adequately meeting the demands of consumers. But, they aren’t. The pesticide issue alone shows that these businesses are not meeting consumer demand for high quality products that are guaranteed to be safe. By not allowing new competition, we are not allowing businesses to be incentivized to create better products and better performing businesses, as Mason Tvert from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) points out in response to Denver’s decision to extend the moratorium. This also gives the black market a brand new incentive –operators now have an opportunity to market cannabis as craft cannabis that is clean and pesticide free. There are ways to tell if cannabis has been well flushed and is clean without having to test it. It is “old school” common knowledge that clean buds burn to light gray ash that reduces to almost nothing. And, that is what consumers want, clean, high quality cannabis, and if the regulated market doesn’t provide what cannabis consumers want, they will find it on the black and gray markets.
And, as if cannabis consumers didn’t have enough wolves in sheep clothing, lately, there has also been the emergence of well-funded groups backed by some industry players purporting to be consumer groups that merge the interests of consumers and industry. That is akin to the oil and gas industry creating their own safety regulations. We all know that one of the biggest challenges facing Americans today is too much influence of any industry in politics and are putting profits over the interests of the individual consumer. We see this as price gouging in the healthcare and technology industries. The Washington Post came out with an article that explained in very simple and profound detail the oligopolistic practices of big players in the U.S. economy. What happens in a market that is oligopolistic is businesses come together to form an elite group of few large conglomerates to dominate the market and reduce consumer purchasing power because of the resulting lack of competition. This is exactly what is playing out in the new cannabis industry. Groups consolidating power to that they can control everything.
We have to ask ourselves as cannabis consumers, is this what we want the new cannabis industry to continue to evolve as? Or, do we want to create an industry that sets standards for a new model economy that infuses conscious capitalism that empowers the consumer exclusive of the industry as its own collective voice? Consumers deserve to have their own voice, and the Cannabis Consumers Coalition is that voice. Now, while the industry is still its infancy, is the most critical time to bring power into the hands. We can’t do this alone. Cannabis consumers need to work together to join our voices and help in setting standards and best practices for this industry on our behalf, and take our power, the power of our vote, back into our hands to impact policy decisions that affect us directly. There is power in numbers. Join today and take that power back.