Until 2018, California’s medical cannabis market only allowed non-profit operations, at least in theory. Most of the people who chose to get involved in those years had a close personal relationship with cannabis and loved the plant, and the business models they put together reflected that. The values of compassion, inclusion, sustainability, and the love of freedom were at the core of the organizations they built.
This changed dramatically after California voters legalized cannabis in 2018. State agencies were empowered to create a highly regulated, for-profit cannabis market. Mainstream business people and investors came into the industry, drawn by the economic opportunity. Most of them did not have a relationship with the plant; and came because they saw a chance to make money quickly. If they weren’t in cannabis they would have been chasing a different hot opportunity.
These newcomers were better able to raise capital, secure permits, and build large organizations. They rapidly gained new licenses and even started buying up existing licenses, while the legacy medical cannabis companies struggled with the transition.
The change to a profit-making cannabis economy brought profound, unexpected and often harmful changes to the cannabis community. Power and influence were brought to bear in the writing of regulations, which in the end were stacked against small and medium sized legacy cannabis collectives. A huge number of the early pioneers, people who understood and loved and cared for cannabis more than anybody else, were squeezed out of California’s cannabis industry; and replaced by people attracted by the love of money– and the kind of education, messaging, experience, teaching and learning in California’s cannabis industry changed dramatically. The core values of compassion, inclusion, sustainability, and the love of freedom were eroded; and values of cost management, shareholder return, and hockey-stick growth curves have been made the higher priorities.
All this damage happened with cannabis, which I see as Mother Nature’s most gentle and forgiving visionary plant teacher. I worry about these same things happening with the commercialization of psychedelics, where I think the margin of error is a lot smaller.
Most of the world has little understanding of psychedelics, and many of those who do know about them are suspicious. We have a small little opening that’s been created with