By Bridget Hill-Zayat, for Elevated Nation
After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the repeal of the Cole Memo on January 4, 2018 cannabis market watchers waited to see if investors and customers would flee.
Why panic? The market was build on a kiss and a promise. A memo, not law, always stated that cannabis is federally illegal. The Cole Memo was the ultimate blankie. It made us all feel safe and secure but it was always just contrivance. This market exists because we want it. Patients like it be cause it is relatively cheap to buy and is effective. Legislators like it because it will help stem the hemorrhage of lost tobacco settlement funds and more constituents want it than don’t.
Exposition aside, January 4th was quite a jolt. Our figurative blankie got thrown out in garbage. Was the Cole Memo the keystone keeping the market together and functioning?
David Tuttleman, owner of Nevada’s Matrix NV, would give a definitive no.
Have you seen attitudes change since you started? How?
More people accepting it than against it specifically baby boomers. Especially older women in pain are becoming open to it. That might be the first step and tide might be turning. It’s easier to accept cannabis when your Grandmother is benefitting from it. The world is ready for this its happening.
What do you think is stopping most people from trying it?
For the older folks it’s the Nixon-era propaganda. They went from Nixon to the “Just say no” Reagan dogma and it is still in in the back of their heads. Some people still think of it as a gateway drug. But, people are getting wise to it. We can rely on people figuring it out. They are starting to understand there are better ways to medicate and how to assert their rights as individuals.
I watched your TED Talk and I know cannabis helped your sister and niece but was the rest of your family receptive to your new business or did they push back?
There was no push back from my family. Everyone understands and knows I look for new horizons and challenges. They roll their eyes maybe.
Some people in the industry are saying that the repeal of the Cole Memo will spur a backlash and that it will create momentum for and end to federal prohibition at least for the medical market. Do you think this will create immediate change?
No, I don’t think there will be immediate change. This will take time but its happening. The repeal of the Cole Memo will slow the novice and empower the professional.
What stops people from investing?
Everyone maintains or should be careful and not take any of this privilege lightly. If you understand that this is a professional industry and that you can’t jump in unless you are familiar with the market and have experience. You need the experience or you need those with it around you.
What trends do you see coalescing in the next few years?
There will be increasingly more emphasis on compliance and transparency both are essential to the industry. This [working in the cannabis industry] is a privilege . . . we can’t take advantage of it. We had the Cole Memo that helped us know the important issues around compliance. I’m not changing how I do business. I will continue to make compliance and legal status a priority at all times. I will run a business that is good for the community and safe for patients and customers and put out a quality product, fully tested for those who want it.
Do you advocate for the industry? How?
Yes, by supporting a self regulating focused industry organization. The NACB is sort of pushing this forward. I want to be a part of a compliance movement and affirm that we will act accordingly with priorities and standards with a high level of diligence.
In my own business we have our own training procedures and affirm employee are meeting the policies and procedures at all times. All of our guidelines are consistent with the Cole Memo and all relevant state compliance guidelines.
What can patients and customers do to support the industry in light of the recent events?
Only buy from licensed dispensaries. Take it slow and ask a lot of questions and enjoy but be careful and keep it out of reach of kids. Its like alcohol manage it that way.
Bridget Hill-Zayat, Esq. is an attorney in the East Coast cannabis industries. She has provided insight to elected officials working on suggested standards for cannabis regulations in PA. Bridget testified before Philadelphia City Council on how the city can increase energy efficiency to help foster the medical cannabis market thrive.