When Did You Join the Cannabis Community?
You smoke weed. But are you a member of the cannabis community?
When I first got into weed, I never really thought in length about the phrase cannabis community. If I thought about it at all.
And since I began blazing down, or eating edibles, or getting a contact high from hanging out with weed robots because dabs and 2016––weed has remained a part of my life, a way to unwind after a stressful day, or gear up in anticipation of one.
At first, weed was an easy way for my high-school friends and me to escape from our Midwestern-suburban tedium while staying within its borders. It was something we did after school, in our parents’ garages, on weekends, in the backseats of cars driving on country roads. Weed was another part of growing up that my older brother introduced me to for the first time. It was—and still is—something I enjoy, something that helps me deal with being human, something that goes well with coffee or a chilled yerba mate tea. But weed is not something I necessarily stand for. Though, that’s not entirely true.
More than a decade later—I’m an editor at a cannabis lifestyle site, and a California medical marijuana patient. I still don’t identify as a marijuana activist, but I certainly see merit in the logic of its legalization for many reasons both personal, and with social benefits in mind. Even if I didn’t enjoy weed, no governing body should decide for me whether or not I use it. With that in mind, I’m inclined to believe that I’m an active member of a cannabis community—a phrase I use multiple times a week in my writing and reporting. A phrase that gets thrown around by business people and bud-tenders and journalists and weird dudes at weed events who hand you DVDs they directed, and tell you that you remind them of their friend, “Blue,” from “back-in-the-day.”
Blue was def in the cannabis community. But what does that phrase even mean?
Tsion "Sunshine" Lencho, an attorney who left a major San Francisco law firm to start her own practice serving clients in the legal cannabis space, previously defined marijuana advocacy for The KIND, as:
“To be public in your support of legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, and to educate the public on the missteps along the way that led to marijuana being classified as a Schedule 1 substance. It means seeking out industry stakeholders and learning what their needs and challenges are and helping craft solutions to create a sustainable cannabis industry. It means helping the greater public understand the history of cannabis, what the possibilities are for the plant, and dispelling misconceptions. And it means making sure that any regulation, though welcomed by the industry, is enacted in a sensible way with an eye to providing reparations to those most affected by our previous drug policy."
Lencho isn’t wrong,at all. In fact, her remarks are spot on. But her definition isn’t the sole classifier of a cannabis activist, or the cannabis community.
Andrea Brooks, of Sava—an online marketplace for artisanal cannabis goods in California—likens being part of legal weed’s first wave as a form of almost “accidental activism,” where the nature of the industry is so up-in-the-air, that a passion for cannabis legislation reform is more-or-less a prerequisite.
“Having a passion for cannabis and a respect and understanding of its many uses is definitely a trait to-be-desired for those entering the industry,” Brooks tells the Kind over the phone from San Francisco.
Brooks is building her company in northern California’s Bay Area—the tech industry’s Mecca and the birthplace of legal medical marijuana in America.
She highlights the importance of strength in community and the power of collaboration for the nascent industry.
The legal cannabis community and the legal cannabis industry are two very different things––which is an issue to-be-explored further, on its own––and there is no set path to entering or being an active part of either, no single measure of what it means to have joined the cannabis community. Some members of the cannabis community work in the legal-weed industry, but so do other people.
Today, social media plays a major role in the community. Pre-Internet, most cannabis consumers' weed life was confined to, and only shared with, the circle of friends in which they usually smoked. Now, mostly all of our lives are online, and most of us are the ones putting it there. Already, and naturally, weed's ability to bring people together has extended to the Internet.
But the "magic" of the cannabis community is that to be a member you don't need to be an activist, a politician, an entrepreneur, a budtender, a nug (though that would be tight, to be a nug), a weed journalist, or have any vested interest in marijuana more than an appreciation for how it makes you feel when you put it in your body.
You don't need to pay a fee or receive an invitation to the cannabis community. You just have to love weed, and the people behind the plant.