By Charles Roques
In spite of the harsh realities of armed conflict between nations there is often cultural exchange. During the turbulent Vietnam era, stories of Asian cannabis known as Thai sticks drifted back to the states. But another import facilitated the means to enjoy it: the bong. The word derives from Thai “baung” for a wooden tube or pipe made from bamboo and first appeared in a 1944 dictionary, “for smoking kancha, tree, hashish, or the hemp-plant.”
Essentially a water pipe, it probably introduced many stoners to the one-hit high. That didn’t stop some from taking two or three hits, definitely amping up the antics. Laughing gigs and much other silliness made the whole experience a little farcical and unsettling for outsiders. Along with the rebellious attitude of the times, bong hits, along with other aspects of the cannabis experience, became associated with lack of responsibility. In spite of this, the immature antics have endured but some think it is time to move on to respectability.
There is much talk in the industry about respectability, one example being the use of the latin name for the plant, cannabis. The stoner image is sometimes addressed from the investing arena as if it were the stepchild, or the sibling that didn’t go to college. But is this really accurate, not to mention ignoring a very large market? On the eve of legalization, stoners are still alive and well. Cannabis does not need to be dressed up and made respectable.
Young cannabis users may act like stoners and older cannabis medicaters may not, but there is no fixed pattern—some older people choose to act like stoners. It is no different than the many asides and corny parlor jokes about drinking alcohol, and is less harmful. It is a plant and it can play whatever role in your life that you need. That is part of the experience. Stoner does not imply immaturity nor bad behavior and it shouldn’t be dismissed as such. There may be a distinct stoner sense of humor but don’t confuse the pranksters for the criminals.
Considering the discovery of the cannabinoid system, cannabis may unlock many unconventional ways of not only looking ahead but looking at business models. New ways of thinking about financing could benefit the industry. The really important issues continue to be more about regulation, banking and legalization, so financiers ignoring companies with stoner images may be casting aspersions in the wrong place. The best investors, whether personal or accredited ones, should be alert for new ideas.
Investors shouldn’t be quick to dismiss an opportunity because of appearances. The dot-com era disrupted many traditional attitudes toward business and the paradigm shifts weren’t always where one expected them. Before then it was extremely rare to see CEOs in t-shirts and jeans, for example.
Make your investments in a company because of its success, creativity and products, and never underestimate the size of the market. New ideas and industries drift into the mainstream eventually but they may take with them disruptive elements. Instead of viewing the stoner vibe suspiciously, embrace it as just another aspect of the culture.
The potential scale of the cannabis sector could allow for numerous marketable demographics spread across it. There are many younger users and medicaters who freely and openly embrace that stoner aesthetic. They could also be potential shareholders.
Don’t dismiss the company because the execs are stoners or the business model appeals to them. It is no small matter that the CEO of a cannabis social network site came up with the idea while high. If cannabis doesn’t unlock your creativity, you may be smoking the wrong plant.
The same creativity that produces innovative music, art and ideas, and ways to express and communicate them, can form businesses. Colorful lingo and off-the-wall humor are also a part of the cannabis culture. From the words describing the plant to the ones describing the euphoria, there will always be slang and new “epiphanyms.” The cannabis culture has enriched the American lexicon and will continue to do so.
It is sometimes good to clean up and be respectable, but don’t throw out the bong with the bong water.