Cannabis – Just Business?

In the last year, the world has become so focused on working from home that we have almost forgotten that the need for physical labor is still necessary for the production of essential daily supplies. Our ‘virtual’ lives don’t obviate the need for farmers, for example, to actually plant, cultivate, and plow the fields. Cannabis production is no exception.

Curses and blessings

The cultivation of marijuana, legally or illicitly, has provided employment for many workers among even the poorest communities. Attempts by governments to restrict production and distribution have affected manual workers far more than entrepreneurs or narcotraffickers.

The very real concerns about the recreational use and abuse of drugs, especially by young adults, may have led to the unemployment and potential suffering of families dependent on cannabis production and trade. Research into the medical benefits of cannabis/marijuana and changes in social attitudes give the impression this means the relaxation of illicit trade laws and increased legal production of the plant. Not only that, but the industry has branched out into other legitimate fields such as culinary and pet products (CBD oil). According to recent research, the industry is expected to increase by about 14% by 2025. These are indeed blessings to those relying on pain relief from the drug as well as manual workers, investors, marketers, and entrepreneurs. The curses remain for individuals and loved ones of those addicted and negatively affected by the abuse of cannabis and other recreational drugs.

The balance of life

As with everything in life, getting the balance right between use and misuse is a difficult one to achieve. To prohibit something beneficial because of potential abuse is a hard choice, but it is also soul-satisfying to know that allowing it to be available is leading to the relief of suffering. It is this compassion that is, in part, the reason why many states in the US (and countries around the globe) have eased prohibitory laws on cannabis. The knowledge that this ‘weed’ may have the ability to relieve chronic pain and mental health issues has been the determining factor in legislation in favor of decriminalizing the drug.

On March 31st 2021, New York legalized recreational cannabis, joining 17 other US states. Medical cannabis is legal in 36 states to date. More will undoubtedly follow suit. So, as the ‘weed’ becomes an admired flowering plant, employment predictions also become a lot healthier. The industry needs researchers, cultivators need a workforce, and marketers need strategists and developers, advertisers, social media experts, administrators, and more. At base, of course, there is and will be a great need for funding. This may be one of those moments investors dream of – a time to get in on a rapidly expanding industry for seriously good returns.

Crowdfunding to crowdgrowing

As the world moves outside again after the life-changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic pass over, surely some ‘virtual’ experiences will remain. Homeschooling, virtual shopping, entertainment, even medical examinations and (weirdest of all?) virtual dog shows. Distance was shrunk by video link and time truly seemed to become relative. The internet became a dual-charactered deity dispensing help and charity to many while dishing out corruption and sleaze to others – blessings and curses again.

One benefit of increased reliance on digital communications is the upsurge in crowdfunding, where small amounts and many people make much difference. Now we have crowdgrowing. To date, the legal cultivation and marketing of cannabis have been limited by a raft of laws and licenses. Cultivating a marijuana crop for profit requires land, resources, and workers at several levels, usually relying on significant financing to even begin the venture. Crowdgrowing (or e-growing) uses the crowdfunding method to leverage communal investments to cultivate and market legal cannabis crops.

The innovative part of this concept is more like adopting and sponsoring in that investors may purchase and cultivate plants they never actually touch or see. Professionals will grow and market the plants for many virtual growers who in turn receive a percentage of the profits. Juicyfields is the main promoter of this type of investment, but there are others (like Cannergrow). Reviews are largely positive but some still regard these companies as scammy. Time will tell, but the underlying fact is that the cannabis market is expanding rapidly and is an exciting prospect for investors and entrepreneurs.

Women in the industry

The place of women in the cannabis industry has pretty much followed the history of women in any other industry. At one time, women could find jobs working at planting, picking, and packing cannabis/marijuana. Few achieved management, executive positions, or parity in the workforce. Activists have railed against gender discrimination and for greater safety in the workplace. In some areas such as finance and research, where there are more liberal attitudes and fewer glass ceilings, women are making a positive impact in the industry. The impact isn’t just in the workforce.

A report on findings in 2019 indicated that over 60% of women supported legalization of marijuana. Furthermore, they are the dominant force driving sales of the drug. This survey also suggests that women are more interested in using cannabis for medicinal rather than recreational purposes, and are open to purchasing new products containing the substance (such as sprays and creams). These facts are hardly surprising when much has been made of the pain relief possible in many female medical conditions and yet is balanced by parental concerns for the wellbeing of their children. Drug consumption among young adults is a highly emotive issue, but the potential medical benefits in such serious conditions like epilepsy make a strong case for decriminalization of cannabis.

Just business

In the minds of most people, the cannabis trade has been a clandestine affair controlled by drug lords. From the 16th century, it had been a legitimate source of income in the US where the hemp source of the drug was produced only for the industrial use of the fiber. These early crops contained low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and it was only later, as levels of this psychoactive ingredient rose, it began to be widely used recreationally. New controls led to illicit trade until now, when decriminalization in many states has – full circle – restored the plant’s economic place. Whether these changes are due to liberal attitudes on recreational use or the potential medical benefits, for the industry it means one thing: Just business.

About the author: Rudly Raphael is the Founder and CEO of Eyes4Research. He has more than 15 years of experience in the market research industry, implementing primary and secondary research for a number of high profile clients. He’s a frequent blogger and has published a number of articles in various online journals, magazines, and other publications.