Legal Marijuana Is About More Than Just Money

A drug policy reformer on the social benefits of legal cannabis.

There is a lot of money in legal marijuana. But perhaps the budding industry is actually worth more in social currency.

"The emerging cannabis industry is much more than a vehicle for financial success," writes Amanda Reiman, California Policy Manager of the Drug Policy Alliance."It is an opportunity to lift up and empower groups that have long been under-appreciated and dishonored in our society." 

Reiman recently published an essay on Huffington Post in which the drug policy reformer calls on the cannabis industry to serve as an example of inclusion and diversity as it expands, and to remain true to its progressive and philanthropic values. Writing from a weed industry event in Oakland, California, Reiman notes the youthfulness and diversity of the people surrounding her; the members of the legal cannabis industry. 

From Huffington Post

"Watching the faces of the industry, the young faces, the dark faces, the faces of those marginalized from most other big business opportunities, I am reminded of the benefits of cannabis legalization that have nothing to do with using cannabis. Namely, employment and social capital."

"Some estimate that the newly regulated industry will have provided 200,000 new jobs by 2015. These jobs include everything from construction on new facilities to retail, agriculture, laboratory testing, manufacturing positions, media work, and all of the people it takes to makes these businesses happen. That's 200,000 people, who, given their demographic, would likely be unemployed or underemployed if it were not for the cannabis industry."

Weed puts people to work. And the industry is actually much more expansive than some might realize. People on the fence about its legalization, in parts of the country where its only ever been criminal and taboo, might not yet be on this level of thinking

In California, where marijuana is only legal for medical use, jobs are still created and sustained in sectors from retail to tech and even digital media. In Colorado, a new generation of entrepreneurs, legislators, consumers, tourists, court cases and journalists are literally writing the first chapter of legal weed in America. 

Across the country, people are exploring its medical benefits.

Perhaps Oklahoma and Nebraska wouldn't be suing Colorado in the supreme court––saying the Golden State's legal weed pours over the border, where it then becomes illegal––if the two states were to explore a pathway to legalization of their own.

Dooma Wendschuh, founder of Ebbu––an intellectual property company operating in the cannabis space––previously told The KIND that being a part of the new cannabis industry brings on emotions akin to, a "feverish excitement—the unbridled intensity of the inevitable—the exuberance of being on the cusp of global change." 

He summates: "Creating a better future is what motivated me to enter the industry.”

Which is a notion seemingly in line with how Reiman views the industry as being in control of its own fate:

"I call on the newly emerging legal cannabis industry to be mindful of the backs on which you stand, and to conduct employment searches that first dip into the pool of applicants who have a wealth of cannabis retail, manufacturing and cultivation experience and the criminal record to prove it. "
"I believe that if we create a road map of philanthropy for this industry, the positive impact on society will truly be greater than the sum of the parts."

With voices such as Reiman's––equal parts actionable practice and knowledgeable preach–– emerging as thoughtful influence for the infant industry, perhaps this isn't a future that is so far off.