Welcome to Institutional Cannabis. This column will appear periodically in MJINews and will focus on what I call Cannabis 3.0.
Institutional Cannabis: An Economic Timeline
Since retiring as CEO of MJIC I have been able to step back and look at the industry with a fresh set of eyes. Almost four years in, I am an old timer but just barely! As I have said many times, cannabis is an industry of immigrants. We all came from somewhere else, nobody grew up here. It started at Cannabis 1.0 and they were the trailblazers. Living in the shadows in the late ’90s when the first states began to legalize and they were truly “of the industry.” California legalized in 1996 and that is really when any sort of economic model could be contemplated. The 1.0 believe in medicinal qualities and the right of the small farmer and operated in a more “cooperative” economic model. No statistically significant data exists from that era.
About 10 years in, around 2007, a newer crop of activist turned business owner began to emerge and became Cannabis 2.0. In 2010 The ArcView Group was formed by Troy Dayton and Steve DeAngelo, both 1.0 converts; activists turned entrepreneurs. It ushered in a new era and many of the industry players today, including myself and much of the ownership of MJIC, met there and owe their start to the group. At the time we had no choice but to come at the industry from the bottom up. There was little data or information available so we rolled up our sleeves and jumped in to figure it out.
Today we have become Cannabis 3.0. We can probably set the date at Nov. 8, 2016, when eight states in the United States passed some form of adult or medical legislation. We are now able to look at this from the top down. Institutional interest is emerging. Data has become available and it’s time to start telling the story of the marijuana economy. It’s time to start acting responsibly and looking to the future economic impact on the institutions of America and stop pretending it might not happen.
As institutions step in and take notice they will not have the proper insight into how the industry works, what data is legitimate and how to responsibly act in a cannabis economy. If we don’t want cannabis to adopt the negative characteristics of other large industries, such as tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceutical, and become dominated by them, we need to get out in front and predict economic impact so we can participate in the future. The industry needs to collaborate with academic and government institutions, sharing its data to have an impact. Holding our data locked in a vault only leads to speculation, manipulation and false outcomes. The future of this industry is at stake and the time is now to decide how we will shape that future.