Last week’s news of the raids and arrests at Sweet Leaf in Denver opens another opportunity to talk about the short-comings of the industry and the jeopardy it’s in. There are consequences for inappropriate actions in the industry… for EVERYONE, regardless of our involvement in the industry. Whether we are directly involved like the budtenders, managers and owners affected here, or we are only in the industry in a consumer's role… our behavior is under a microscope and in front of the entire world.
When Colorado legalized adult-use cannabis, the world gasped. Colorado is a virtual petri dish of a social experiment. Do you understand the risks of the image you are portraying? Are you contributing to acceptance and de-stigmatization of the herb or are you part of the problem? The industry has lost its shine in Colorado, and I fear many have forgotten the importance of their role.
The marijuana industry is experiencing a drastic shift in clientele. In the past, young adults, mainly men, were the primary consumers of cannabis. However, as more success stories of health and wellness are being told and legalization spreads across the US, women and seniors are increasingly migrating from the world of pharmaceuticals and taking charge for their own their own health.
This shift in clientele cannot (and does not want to) relate to the stereotypical sub-culture of marijuana. A 60-year-old woman with arthritis is not interested in psychedelic experiences or exploring an altered state of consciousness, they aren’t interested in the Dub-step thumping in the background, nor do they want to talk about medical problems with a budtender who looks and talks like Sol from Pineapple Express. These people are looking for relief from stress, anxiety, or a chronic condition. Your traditional hiring practices need to shift to meet the demand of this client, you must demand more from your employees, and that starts by paying for the responsibility the position demands.
While an extensive list of rules and regulations have been put in place, the integrity of the industry is only as good as the people who work in it. If you can’t hire employees who not only follow the rules, but understand why they should… THEY WILL SHUT YOU DOWN! Ultimately the responsibility for the actions of your employees is on you. If you aren’t educating your employees in a way they take it to heart, then you need to find a new way.
Display & Demand Responsibility
First, in order to expect a greater sense of responsibility, you need to invest in a better class of employees and pay them what they are worth. The deepest question that should be asked by someone making $12.00 an hour is “Would you like a side of fries with that?” At $12.00 an hour, (the average salary for a budtender and most fast-food workers) the majority of employees you are going to attract are young, inexperienced, and only in it for the benefits. Especially on the medical side, where people are seeking trustworthy help, but instead are met with a salesperson who is more interested pushing a product to make quota to earn $100 worth of free product at the end of the month.
Secondly, you need to behave like store managers, because if you expect your employees to act with respect and responsibility you must first display respect and responsibility yourself. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, store owners and managers ENCOURAGED their budtenders to turn a blind-eye to “looping,” as described in the article.
Looping: Allowing a customer to buy their legal limit, leave, and return to do it again.
Now, while there is not currently any wording to actually make this practice implicitly illegal (today), let me explain why this dispensary and all of its employees are facing possible legal trouble.
When you apply for, and receive, your badge to work in the legal cannabis industry you swear to uphold the laws of the marijuana industry. As such, you cannot “knowingly” participate in illegal activities, or allow your customers to participate in illegal activities while in your presence or on store property.
In Colorado, the law states, the legal personal carry limits for adult-use, “recreational” marijuana is ONE OUNCE. This means your patron cannot carry more than an ounce on his person at any given time. In this particular case, one plain-clothed police officer purchased an ounce, 9 separate times within 90 minutes to 2-hours. If you do the math, this guy came back every 10-15 minutes – obviously, not enough time to take each ounce home between sales. The budtender should’ve been able to recognize this guy was not abiding the law and refused sale. He KNEW the patron was going to be carrying more than his legal limit, therefore he was contributing to the crime. (Don't kill the messenger - I'm only explaining it from the law's perspective.)
However, some store managers believe the rules are gray, and thus encourage employees to let it slide. Why? Because there’s money it. Greed is overtaking logic in the industry, and many of those in the industry need to take a step back and remember why we are here… and for most of us, it’s not all about getting high.
Looking for someone to some speak to your employees and remind them just how important they are? Contact me about speaking at your dispensary!
If you have not realized the importance of your position yet, I strongly encourage you to seek another profession. The industry is under attack and as long as the current administration is in office, it will remain that way. How YOU handle yourself, and how seriously YOU take your job makes a difference. Let me break it down for you point by point…
YOU ARE THE FACE OF THE INDUSTRY. What does your image portray – and I’m not talking about how you are dressed or the color of your hair – you can be an individual and still be a professional. Are you displaying an image of professionalism and compassion, or does your image say something else? Not just to you… show some empathy - this industry isn’t all about you… what does your image say to your grandmother, what does it say to your customer? If Jeff Sessions and his entourage of suits walked through the door, would you be prepared to address them on a professional level? Thousands of people are praying you know how to handle yourself and are prepared to defend the industry.
NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN COMPLIANCE. Do you believe you’re not being secretly monitored by undercover police and secret shoppers? No? Neither did those employees of Sweet Leaf - now they are facing fines and criminal charges, not to mention, probably lost their ability to work in the industry. Let me explain compliance in a way it might sink in…
Marijuana is a safe substance. It’s been used for thousands of years with never a recorded instance of death. The rules put in place on the legal cannabis industry are not put there for “safety” – they are put there in hopes you screw up. The more you screw up and stop following the rules, the faster they are going to yank the rug out from under us and hand the whole industry over to big pharma where they can create “franken-Weed” which will kill you, and then charge you a kidney and the rights to your first-born child to in order to get it.
So again, I ask… Are you doing all you can do not only to protect your own job, but to protect the rights of freedoms of the patients you help? People, all over the nation, are depending on you to do what is right so they can continue to have easy access to a medicine which has likely changed their lives. If your behavior alone determined the fate of the industry, are you prepared to look at all the people who are finding their miracles, and tell them you’re doing everything you can? If you can’t answer yes… please turn in your badge.
THE SUCCESS OF THE INDUSTRY IS DEPENDING ON YOU. Our right to cannabis is not etched in stone. While the movement has been strong for many years, the changing of the guard in Washington has left a lot of questions about our future. If you aren’t putting your best foot forward each and every day, you are doing the industry a disservice.
Get excited! Be passionate! You have ROCK STAR job, where you have an opportunity to better the world. Educate yourself, read everything, learn the endocannabinoid system, teach your customers. Be MORE than ‘they’ expect you to be. Prove them wrong. Then demand better pay! You deserve it!
Even if you’re just a customer in the industry… the industry is depending on you to do what is right. If you’re a recreational user, please remember medical patients are dependent on this industry for their very health. Your behavior contributes to their freedom and ability to access this medicine. If you are breaking the law to make a buck, please think about kids like Charlotte Figi, who depend on cannabis to help control devastating medical conditions.
If your illegal behaviors contribute to a child losing their miracle are you going to feel good about that? Is the size of your wallet more important than the health of a person suffering from MS, Parkinson’s Disease, or years of chronic pain? Medical patients who are selling their product over state lines… is your profit worth risking everyone else’s freedoms, too?
We (everyone who appreciates the cannabis industry, whether you partake or not) are under attack. We have to start demanding better, or we are going to lose all of the progress we have made.
Now I ask you again…
Are YOU doing everything you can to protect the cannabis industry and someone’s miracle or are you going to remain complacent until the day YOU need a miracle and it’s no longer available for you because the generation who started the movement wasn’t responsible enough to handle it.