There is now a thriving, nurturing community around the cannabis industry. The days of the closet grow-light or clandestine deals should be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, many still fear society and government when setting up their cannabis-related business.
Marijuana users and providers have long been demonized. Consider some of the words used in the illicit marijuana trade: dealer, pusher, stash, score, dope, stoner. They speak of shame and violence and vice. Now compare those terms to the jargon of the legal/medical cannabis community: medicine, collective, garden, doctor, healing, organic, edibles, co-op, recreational. We have come a long way since the days when marijuana was forced into the shadows.
These terms reflect the current state of cannabis in California and other states. It is an accepting, professional, well-grounded community that will embrace MMJ patients and professionals. If you are a patient or a provider, reach out for support of the community. Reach out to an organization, co-op, industry group, or professional to help you use and trade cannabis openly.
Marijuana is illegal at the Federal level, and many local law enforcement are not familiar with marijuana laws. Law enforcement is accustomed to drugs being in the shadows. When going after legal cannabis users and providers, police and District Attorneys rely on those shadows to conceal their actions and prosecutions. The more people that we have being open about their lawful compliance with California law, the more enlightened others around us become about the law – including law enforcement and a court system that all too often sides with it.
There are many organizations that provide support locally and lobby nationally for cannabis rights. The Human Solution International fights for your rights and supports marijuana criminal defendants on a very personal level. NORML is a well-known and established lobbying and educational organization that has local chapters near you. MPP is a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to marijuana policy reform in the US. These groups have local chapters and active online communities. They are a very good way to stay informed and connected.
A sign of maturity and potential in an industry is the number of publications and trade groups that serve it. The old standby, “HIGH Times,” has a wide and varied coverage of cannabis culture. “Cannabis Business Executive” is a terrific resource for industry professionals. If you are looking for listings of supplies, equipment, and vendors, the Medical Marijuana Exchange is a platform for finding the resources you need. The marijuana business space is thriving and asserting its rightful place in the Nation's economy.
When hiring a local service professional, it pays to find one with expertise in the cannabis business. For example, your accountant should be familiar with the requirements for your co-op or collective. Your garden supply should know about the pH and soil requirements of your clones, rather than just regular shrubs and flowers. There are also local professionals that will guide you through the red tape of setting up and maintaining a cannabis service.
For example, Chris Van Hook is an expert at agricultural certification, as well as medical marijuana laws and cultivation. Check out his Clean Green Organic certification.
For professional services related to setting up and managing your operation, we recommend Heidi Grossman of Sugarleaf Productions. Heidi is a paralegal, Oaksterdam graduate, and expertly familiar with the laws, regulations, and best practices related to growing, sharing, and remunerating (selling on a non-profit level) cannabis. She will help you navigate the difference between a co-op and a collective, a prescription and a doctor recommendation, and the various forms of incorporation. Sugarleaf also offers the medical marijuana industry bookkeeping, tax, and CPA services.
It should go without saying, find an attorney to answer any legal questions you have before you invest time, or jeopardize your freedom, setting up a cannabis grow or dispensary. Plus, have an attorney, especially a criminal defense attorney, retained and on speed dial. This will pay off dramatically when (not if) law enforcement comes knocking.