Since cannabis is being used for medical purposes in more than half of the United States, should doctors take over the cannabis industry?
The legal cannabis industry is still figuring itself out as it goes. Right now, the movers and shakers of the industry are still laying the foundation. What shape do we want the weed industry to take? Who should be the leaders of this new industry? Should doctors take over the cannabis industry? Alternatively, should we look at it as strictly a business venture dominated by businesspeople? Or something else entirely?
One idea that’s been floating around is that doctors and healthcare providers should become key leaders in the industry. A pharmacist in Alberta, Canada explained some of the thought processes behind this idea.
“We have done extensive education and study researching it so that we’re aware of what’s happening,” Greg Bueckert said in an interview with Chat News Today.
As Bueckert pointed out, doctors are involved in the process of talking to patients about the effects of weed. Already, they’re the ones making recommendations and prescriptions in states that have legalized medical marijuana programs. Given all this, it makes sense to let doctors maintain this central role.
Additionally, Bueckert said that doctors have a key role to play beyond learning about and explaining to people the effects of weed.
“We’re concerned with health, and that’s with everything people consume, whether it’s licensed drugs or otherwise,” he said.
It seems clear that no matter what happens, doctors will be important players in the overall weed industry. In many ways, doctors serve as the link between medical research and cannabis consumers. Doctors end up playing key educational roles, communicating to people what the current research says about weed.
While doctors and healthcare providers will probably always be crucial players in the weed industry, should doctors take over the cannabis industry? Probably not. That would end up limiting the industry and would make it too narrowly focused only on medicinal uses.
At this point, it seems that the young cannabis industry should be working toward being as well-rounded as possible. Along with doctors, that would also include a much broader range of people.
For example, researchers. Doctors try to stay up to date on research, but they’re not actually doing that research. For that reason, the legal weed industry needs to remain closely linked to a broad range of scholars and researchers who can expand our understanding of all aspects of cannabis.
Similarly, the industry needs people who are tapped into other elements of cannabis and cannabis culture. Obviously, the industry needs a strong group of breeders and growers.
Similarly, business-minded folks should play important roles in helping distribute and sell cannabis products. Additionally, people like chefs, artists, and inventors play key roles in creatively pushing the cannabis scene in new directions.
There are also pressing questions about law, business practices, finances, agriculture, insurance, environmental impact, and much, much more. A strong industry will incorporate people from each of these fields.
The main point is that a strong and vibrant cannabis industry needs tons of different people, each of whom brings a different perspective, different ways of thinking, and different priorities. This will help ensure that the industry doesn’t grow stagnant or doesn’t simply become another monopolized commodity. A more dynamic, multi-faceted industry will hopefully keep weed from becoming the next Big Tobacco or Big Pharma.
The question of who should lead the weed industry isn’t just about professional fields. The final—and arguably most important—piece of the puzzle is ensuring that the cannabis industry is as diverse as the population of people who actually consume weed.
To put it simply, that means ensuring that the industry isn’t taken over by rich white men.
But unfortunately, this is already happening. A recent survey of cannabis business owners found that 81 percent of all marijuana business owners are white.
And that number probably fails to reflect how white-dominated the industry really is. That’s because the survey counts a person with “any ownership stake in a business, not necessarily a controlling stake” as an “owner.” As a result, a company in which only 10 percent is owned by a black person and 90 percent is owned by white people would still register in the survey as a business with a black owner.
Similarly, the cannabis industry appears to be going through some troubling changes when it comes to gender. Recent stats show that in 2015, 36 percent of all cannabis businesses had women executives. Last year, that number had fallen to 26.9 percent.
Fortunately, even 2017’s lower number is still higher than the number of women executives across all U.S. businesses, which is around 23 percent. But it is not a good sign that the percentage of women-run weed businesses has dropped so dramatically.
So, who should run the cannabis industry? Anybody and everybody. People of all demographics and professions use weed. And the industry should reflect that diversity. Otherwise, we will waste the revolutionary potential of cannabis. And rich white men will turn weed into just another commodity to make them richer.
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