It’s no secret (among cultivators, anyway) that cannabis cultivation is not an easy business, no matter how you got here. Whether you’re an experienced cultivator with decades of experience or an industry newcomer with a dream of helping people (see the cover story, “On Cloud Nine,” ), everyone is essentially—like it or not—in the same boat.
For starters, there are the cultivation challenges—from pest control and the lack of federally approved pesticides and fungicides (see “Testing Update”) to climate control, nutrient plans, feeding and watering schedules, product consistency, equipment choices to help you manage all of those aspects of cultivation—and significant operational challenges, from financing/capital to finding sufficient skilled employees, continuously mounting costs, sales and marketing, price pressures, taxes and section 280E of the IRS tax code, security, as well as compliance with ever-changing state and local regulations.
Oh, then there’s the federal illegality of the whole business, and new concerns about the Attorney General’s anti-marijuana position and efforts to keep in mind.
Even native tribes in the United States, who were given the government’s blessing to cultivate and sell cannabis on their sovereign lands, are not exempt from hypocrisy and raids. (See the feature, “Banding Together”.)
One of the most alarming developments, and a potentially enormous challenge, is a lawsuit filed by neighbors of a cultivation business that is based on the RICO Act – the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. The act, typically used against illegal business dealings such as extortion and money laundering, is being used to sue state-legal cannabis businesses. When we heard about this, we had to investigate further to find out what the impact would be on cultivators if this suit, or others like it, is won. (See the news story, “Property Litigation: A New Concern for All Cultivators?”.)
But, while all these things are challenging and even a bit scary, you persevere. You pursue your dreams and don’t stop, no matter the risks. In that respect, not all that much has changed in 30, 40 years.
And why? Because, in addition to the significant civil rights issues, the promise of this industry to have a positive impact on society is unquantifiable. Looking at medical marijuana alone, there are: medical benefits for what the Marijuana Policy Project estimates as 2.3 million patients nationwide, including children finding relief from chronic, life-threatening seizures; hope (and even some evidence) for helping to stifle the national opioid crisis; job creation/livelihoods for families and communities; tax revenue for municipalities and states that helps fund school programs and various infrastructure improvements … and that list goes on and on as well. Not to mention the relaxation and enjoyment of people throughout the eight states and D.C. that have braved the way to recreational legalization, in addition to the economic impact recreational sales have on states and communities.
I guess I’m ticked off that such a positive industry faces such difficulties and uncertainty at almost every turn. But as Isaac Asimov once said, “It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.”
So continue being bold in the face of adversity, and be proud of the work you are doing. I know I am.