The American Cannabis Report
(C) 2018 Eastman Smith Communications

Expectations for Cannabis are Epic, but It's Still About Small Business

Dear Readers, you’ve noticed our output has been limited for the past month here at the American Cannabis Report. 

 

We had observed that the cannabis industry has reached an inflection point, where the end of Prohibition is within reach. Economic momentum, tax revenues, public opinion, political discourse… all are heading in the right directions.

 

So we pulled back to take a hard look at the industry, and our role as influencers to policy-makers and industry leaders. Some thoughts:

 

During our daily evening commute, our cars are filled with the jaunty rhythms of NPR’s “Marketplace” in which the clever voice of Kai Ryssdal tells us about how the Dow Industrial average performed that day. As we all know, the Dow is an extreme shorthand ‘glance’ at the ‘health’ or ‘trends’ of the overall American economy.

 

What could be further from the truth? The majority of American businesses qualify as “Small Business”, with the metric being under 500 employees. And when we say ‘majority’, we mean 99.9% of all American Businesses, according to the Small Business Administration.

 

Shifting to our perch observing and interpreting the cannabis industry, we see the dozens of media stories about the multi-Billion-dollar valuations of MedMen and Acreage Holdings, the big Aphria deal in Paraguay, the big Aurora deals in Mexico, the $1.8Billion Altria investment in Cronos, the Constellation Brands’ $4 Billion investment in Canopy Growth.

 

And let’s be honest, trained to use “Dow Thinking”, these big deals are as testosterone-boiling as the massive industrial cannabis/chemical processors we saw at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas. Schwing, right?

 

Fact is, we at the American Cannabis Report have been guilty of trafficking in Dow-Thinking about our fledgling industry. We’ve touted the $50 Billion scale of the ‘real’ cannabis opportunity in America, we’ve trumpeted jobs reports in the hundreds of thousands…

 

We need to be more wary about Big-Cannabis-Thinking because, well, who wants some industrial weed with no particular taste or effect, which may or may not be full-spectrum and offer true Entourage Effect benefits. Wouldn’t that doom us to a gorging on ruthless Epidiolex at $32,000 per year? Doesn’t that devalue everything good that the heroic small growers, small dispensaries, brands, have built, against all odds, for nearly a century?

 

And aren’t we participating in the foolish cannabis-industry-savior theme that will ultimately break everyone’s hearts… People in Colorado were let down when cannabis taxes didn’t actually save its schools (neither did the Lottery, but…) And now, New Yorkers are going to suffer if they believe the cannabis industry could Save their Subway system.

 

It’s our job to see through the fog and get to the real stories. Billions are great for the 0.001% that will enjoy them. For the rest of us, our goals are bigger than dollars.

 

We’ll try to do better in the future.

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