By Marguerite Arnold
The legalization movement has brought many changes with it, including seeing those who first fought on the front lines of reform now take on new hats. This time, many are doing so on the business side of the movement.
Herndon Graddick is one of those who has gone from advocate to the profit-making side of the business, but for him, it is not really much of a change. “I would say that all advocacy should directly involve the business world whether it’s concerning the issue of drug reform, or the environmental protection or LGBT politics,” he said.
Graddick left the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, where he was both CEO and head of media strategy, for a position as Chief Marketing and Policy Officer with OSL Holdings (OTCQB: OSLH), a public company, which among other things has a development platform to finance indoor gardens. Graddick originally became acquainted with the company because it had supported his work at GLAAD.
“Herndon’s skill set in driving progressive social change through the media is perfectly suited to OSL’s needs as we adapt to the rapidly changing regulatory framework in our sector,” said Bob Rothenberg, CEO of OSL Holdings.
Just from this perspective, Graddick is no stranger for advocating for change and in many places the issues are directly the same. “In the case of LGBT rights, our side obviously was able to speak to the values of the vast majority of Americas and big business much better than those people who would deprive us of equal rights,” he said. “Our simple messages ultimately resounded and the viewpoints of our opposition were exposed as dishonest and nonsensical, bad for business and bad for America, much the same way that the messages of drug reform are taking off in this country.”
He sees many parallels, if not directly similar challenges, now facing the developing marijuana business, beyond just the concept of legalization. “Much like the LGBT rights movement, progress in this space is contingent on people understanding those things,” he said. “The more businesses succeed in these areas the quicker social change will take place. Money talks. Understanding the interplay of those things and the mechanics of public policy change is crucial to any business on the leading edge of this market.”
For this reason, Graddick does not see his new role as much of a leap “because that seems to imply there is some risk for me,” he said. “It’s a fascinating life experience to be on the inside of this unique cultural and economic event, which is the creation of the legal marijuana market in the United States. That I get to apply experience from another social movement is something to be grateful for.”