As the owner of two (2) cannabis-related businesses Cannabis Central (Cannabis Central, has been open and in continuous operation since August 25, 2014) of Ellensburg and my cannabis consulting firm, Cannabis Consulting Nationwide I have often pondered why some people despise cannabis.
Ellensburg is a small town located in Central Washington State, about 100 miles due East of Seattle. Its known for several things; namely the finest timothy hay in the country, Central Washington University and for the fact there was serious consideration given to having Ellensburg be our State Capitol. This was an idea pushed by many back in latter part of the 19thcentury given the simple fact Ellensburg was located in the geographical center of would soon become Washington State. Washington State is a progressive, liberal state in general so a person might conclude its citizens would have been open to the concept of legalized cannabis intended for adult use, but if this what you would have predicted, you would have been wrong.
Initiative 502, the people’s initiative intending to legalize “recreational” marijuana use, on the ballot in November, 2012, passed by a relatively narrow margin. In fact if King County, home to the State’s largest city, Seattle, had been removed from the vote, the measure would have been defeated. So even in our liberal leaning state, legalization of cannabis was controversial and was not without many issues. Citizens from all across the Evergreen State were up in arms, fearful of what the “normalization” of cannabis in our communities might bring when the first retail shops began to open. High crime, access to minors, cartels influence, are just a few of the concerns expressed by many. 5 ½ years later, it is easy to prove these concerns were without merit and that many of the predicted problems just simply have not materialized. Minor use of cannabis has actually been reduced in 37 of our 39 counties. There has not been an uptick or even a presence of a “criminal element” seen as a result of the legalization of cannabis. But still the controversy and the harsh opinions persist. The question is why?
As a 61 year old, I am a product basically of the 70s and I am an unwilling recipient of the nonstop propaganda against marijuana use throughout the 70s and even into the 80s aka “Just Say No”. Gateway drug, laziness will ensue, potential for success will be dramatically reduced. If you smoke pot, you are more than likely on your way to other dependencies and addictions and by extension, on your way to becoming a leach on society, unable to provide for yourself. Sound too harsh? Am I serious? Well, frankly yes, this was the message from “experts” in the day, what we were all warned about. Too many, this remains their view and opinions on cannabis are still mixed at best. Again, the question remains, “Why?”
I can tell you, as I have told many others in various panels, committees, meetings, expos, conventions that 60-70% of my customers come into my retail cannabis shop in the hopes of dealing with one issue or another. Young and old, many are attempting to treat something that is ailing them; migraines, menstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, pain, cancer treatment or the effects therefrom just to name a few. Most of my customers are not just wanting to get “high”, they are, in fact, dealing with life and stress and problems and difficulties. And the ailments they are dealing with or attempting to at least are as varied as the people themselves.
My average age customer is approximately 40-42. I have patrons from 21 to 91 and everywhere in between. They are male and female, young and old, fat and skinny, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, formally educated and high school dropouts, successful and struggling, in a committed relationship or single, etc, etc. They are representative of America as a whole in that they are very diverse. And I love that as it pertains to the cannabis industry. But very few of my customers fit the “mold” of pot smoker or stoner that so many who object to cannabis in society may perceive cannabis users to be.
Cannabis is helping many citizens. Many turn to cannabis to help with many problems including quality of life issues. I have many stories from customers who have scaled way back on pain medications that otherwise would turn them into zombies if enough was taken to control pain. Augmenting pain pills with cannabis can help control pain but allow for normal function that utilizing the pain medications alone otherwise would not.
We are changing people’s hearts and minds one situation at the time. The progress does at times to be maddeningly slow. But when I look back over the past few years, I know we have made significant inroads and have, on many occasions, effected lives in a truly and sometimes overwhelmingly positive fashion. And that feels good, in fact it makes the struggles, stress and sleepless night that entering this wild and crazy industry brought about all worthwhile.
Thanks for listening.