Morgan Paxhia is the founding partner and chief investor at Poseidon Asset Management, aninvestment management company founded in 2013 to invest exclusively in the cannabis industry. He holds a degree in applied mathematics from the University of Rhode Island.
Over 90 million people will be voting on Cannabis legislation across several states November 2016. You might live in a state that has a ballot initiative.
It is true that there is significant momentum in the Cannabis movement.
However, we can’t seem to get beyond so many misperceptions mostly created by the drug war and the willfully ignorant.
As Americans, it is our right to vote, which is a powerful thing, especially when driven by information.
When misperceptions block the acceptance of new information, we all lose.
Perceptions are a way we filter and process information in the world – sometimes they are beneficial and adaptive, while other times when it comes to misperception, it restricts openness and change.
A large driver of misperceptions are the words we choose to apply to situations or concepts. The words painted on cannabis via the drug war have certainly helped to cement misperceptions and misconceptions.
Words are the lenses through which we view the world, so it is imperative that we elevate the language around cannabis to be worthy of a productive dialogue.
Below are perceptions and lexicon that need to shift around cannabis.
Misperception: Legalization harms society
This argument has no evidence or statistics as support. In fact, legalization has shown to have positive effects on society.
Crime rates have decreased in cities with progressive drug policies. This is a dual decrease as people are no longer incarcerated from non-violent offenses and the black market finally has meaningful competition.
Remember, any black market dealer will sell to anyone, at any age, as fast as possible. Here’s asample chart from CO.
Language lens: Recreational use vs. adult use
Recreational as a word implies the Cannabis industry is seeking acceptance from society, as it once was. We much prefer to talk about “adult use” consumption in legal states as this sends a message of consumption by mature individuals. Recreational carries a message of selling to minors, which a legal and regulated adult use market is not.
Vice industry vs. lifestyle & wellness industry
Why do we have to fit Cannabis in some existing category? And why does that mean it has to be compared to alcohol, cigarettes, guns and gambling. We believe Cannabis is a new sector of the US economy, one that is deserving of its own category.
It is a non-correlated asset class and yet demonstrates tremendous growth, which makes it unique as compared to these vice industries.
Stoners vs. modern adult consumers
“Half Baked” and “Cheech and Chong” are no longer the representatives of a modern Cannabis enthusiast. Take a look at the much larger market that can now consume legally in various states.
Consider the moms that prefer a little cannabis before bed versus a glass of wine, as it helps them sleep and wake up with a clear head. Consider someone with arthritis who would prefer a natural remedy without the endless side effects of opioids. Or what about a young married couple that is looking for a nice relaxing evening, watching a movie and enjoying each other’s company?
See the “coming out green” and we imagine more people will wake up to this safer alternative to be creative, relax, open up, ease pain, sleep, etc.
Hemp is NOT marijuana
Yes, this is true. They are related, but hemp contains no psychoactive elements known as THC. The concept of hemp being illegal is the purest form of greed by those that are threatened by the endless uses of hemp. Last year, the US imported and sold over $600 million in hemp based products.
The Canadian economy benefited by over $1 billion last year thanks to its thriving hemp economy. Their hemp is currently grown for food purposes, which can be found in US grocery stores around the United States. However, there are estimated to be more than 25,000 end uses for hemp from food, to textiles, construction, plastics and composites and much more.
Despite these perceptions, most Americans agree with Cannabis legalization. Polling numbers will continue to show up as November approaches. For example, CBS recently ran a poll resulting in 56% of Americans support legalization. This is a 3 percentage point gain from a poll run last year.
Almost even more important was the decline of opposition by 7 percentage points. The momentum is palpable but we should all take a moment to reflect on these uninformed/biased perceptions.
There is a lot more progress to be made, but the opportunity is there for the Cannabis industry.