by John Taylor
It’s hard to believe that Christmas and 2018 are literally a stone’s throw away. Time flies when you’re having fun witnessing celebrity and politician workplace scandals, a national tax reform debate and the latest Star Wars blockbuster.
Well, regardless of denomination, tis the season where many of us get out our iPad and stylus – or even a good ole fashioned piece of paper – and scribble down either a wish list or resolutions as we peer ahead into the future. What do we want besides our two front teeth? What are our hopes and dreams for the holiday and coming 365 days?
With the New Year also bringing us new laws for California – notably voter-approved legalization of cannabis beginning January 1 – I thought I’d share my brief “back of Santa’s cookie napkin” wishes for the industry and Golden State as we soon sled into the “Green Rush”.
Striking the Right Balance between a Well-Regulated yet Thriving Industry
As a lifelong entrepreneur, I find it strange to proclaim but I do, in fact, welcome regulation with the cannabis industry – uniform lanes that all of us must understand and stay within to keep things on the right track. The Brown Administration and legislature have set out to do just that with this budding industry, starting with solid leadership from Laura Ajax at the newly-created Bureau of Cannabis Control and a set of new laws that govern safety, health and structure for cannabis. Having said that, a healthy regulatory climate must also ensure a healthy cannabis business climate. California has understandably earned the not-so-flattering reputation in recent years as being hostile to businesses, notably start-up entrepreneurial companies, no thanks to its serious overreach with regulations and operational costs. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, small businesses end up paying 37 percent more than a large business or corporation to comply with regulations. Policymakers have rightly addressed the need to fix this problem with initial steps towards regulatory reform, which gives us hope. My wish is for industry professionals to continue to educate their elected officials and regulators about their business, challenges and needs so that we are, in fact, playing by the rules but that the rules don’t extend so unreasonably far that they defeat our very purpose: helping our communities, creating jobs and feeding the economy.
Promoting Safe and Healthy Cannabis Grows Everywhere
There is understandably an exciting energy and frenzy among many Californians to grow cannabis in a speed-to-market manner to meet anticipated consumer demand. Still, we must all take good care not to let the health and safety of our communities suffer in our haste to grow, trim and sell the next promising bag of weed. Done wrong, human lives could suffer dire consequences. Growers would be wise to begin with such efforts as creating a regular and open dialogue with elected officials and members of the surrounding community – listening and working to mitigate issues; keeping facilities secure and monitored to prevent theft, tampering and contamination of the product; we at Smart Cannabis have developed leading state-of-the-art greenhouses that ensure maximum safety and protection for grower and consumer alike; well-trained employees using smart resources to assist in efficient growing processes – and a demand for testing and producing a consistent product that ensures positive outcomes for medicinal uses. At UC Davis last year, several patients were adversely affected by a deadly form of mold, aspergillus niger, after smoking untested cannabis. Engaging the services of respected testing leaders such as Steep Hill will be penny wise so that no grower will be pound foolish down the line.
Better Collaboration and Mutual Support
It is my estimated guess that voters in other states will soon follow California, Colorado and Washington with a choice to legalize cannabis. To that end, it will be even more important for all sides to respect and pursue a culture of collaboration, cooperation and support that ensures the most efficient and responsible implementation. The Obama administration, for the most part, took a hands-off approach to cannabis after Colorado and Washington legalized it for recreational purposes in 2012, but little is known how the Trump Administration will handle this, other than there have been signs pointing to greater scrutiny and enforcement – and heightened uncertainty among state and local officials. It is incumbent upon leaders at every level to regularly communicate with each other – and that means delegations to the U.S. Capitol, regular meetings and tours with elected and their district staff, and regular communication about ever-changing laws and regulations within the industry so that there is a mutual respect and support for the best possible outcomes. There must be stronger efforts to educate our young people in our schools, community organizations and the public about such themes as responsible use, addiction and medical benefits when it comes to all things cannabis. We are moving in that direction, but we can and should work diligently in every community to double down in our efforts to collaborate and help each other in the process.
This is, indeed, an exciting and auspicious season for the advent of legalization across our great state. If we all do our part to slow down in this green rush, and instead work together towards safe, responsible and efficient implementation, I’m confident that each of my California Christmas Cannabis wishes are bound to come true.
John Taylor is the President of SMART Cannabis and the founder and President of Next Generation Farming, Inc., a global leader in state-of-the-art agritech, cannabis and advanced organic greenhouse development and farming solutions.