By Cassandra Farrington
First let’s get my credentials out there. I am a fugitive from Corporate America and the COO of a publishing company. I run a small business with a solid base, and have dreams of turning the company into something bigger.
I live in the suburbs with my husband, two kids and a dog. I lead my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and my husband coaches the soccer team. In my younger years I certainly nursed a hangover or three, though I reliably left the party when more adventurous friends broke out the illicit substances. I vote based on my own opinions of issues which I’ve researched, not on partisan ideology or media scare tactics.
In short, I’m the person the medical marijuana and legalization lobbies need to convince of your legitimacy.
Yet here’s a heads up for all you MMJ industry folks: “Weed Wars” – the Discovery Channel reality show that focuses on Harborside Health Center in California – is not doing anything to convince me that the potential risks of legalizing cannabis are worth the potential benefits.
Here’s why: A key element of “medical marijuana” is the medical piece of it. Every other over-the-counter or prescription medication I’m aware of is administered on a proscribed regimen for a specific, defined affliction. Take two ibuprofen every four hours as needed for pain. Apply ointment twice a day to affected area to control itchy rash.
In contrast, the individuals I’ve become aware of in this industry – including the owners, management and staff at Harborside as I’ve seen them represented in the show – appear to use marijuana in a haphazard fashion. I see no evidence that these individuals have a medical condition with a definable cause and standard treatment plan.
Instead, I see them wanting to get high.
Please know that I have nothing at all against medical marijuana. I have nothing against marijuana in general, for that matter. Banning something to prevent access to it has always seemed like backwards thinking to me.
My aforementioned adventurous friends with their illicit substances never seemed to cause disaster or incite mayhem. My company’s newest launch, MMJ Business Daily, is clearly tied to this industry. The fate of the publication – and my personal investment in it – lies with the success or failure of a continued state-sanctioned MMJ marketplace with limited federal interference.
So beyond a fairly agnostic personal view, from a professional perspective I’d love to see this industry succeed.
Yet “Weed Wars” highlights the laissez-faire approach to drug use that appears pervasive in this industry. A grower is handed an edible sample in an exchange that seems a lot more like vendor relationship-building than anything else, the same way my business might give a key partner a complimentary copy of a new report.
In another clip, a senior staff member jokes that the employees are not able to “medicate” (air quotes included in the video clip) at a company-hosted lunch. Why on earth would you need medication to get through a staff lunch? I like my staff, and enjoy it when we get to spend time together in a more casual environment.
All of which makes me wonder: maybe this isn’t truly about medicine. Maybe these folks beating the legalization drum are in fact just hiding behind the handful of patients with seizure disorders, debilitating pain and cancer. While I’ve become convinced that there are some few individuals who genuinely do not have other alternatives to ease their conditions, I’m likewise convinced that there are many more individuals who would get along just fine – probably better – if they weren’t high on marijuana all the time.
As an independent-thinking American with small kids and a small business, my next logical step is to consider what the cost/benefit of medical marijuana is. How many people are genuinely being helped, compared to those who have been enabled to pursue their marijuana habit?
As I head into a voting booth, the conclusions I have reached in my own mind are not in the industry’s favor.
Cassandra Farrington is COO/CFO at Anne Holland Ventures, Inc., the parent company of MMJ Business Daily. Previously a VP at Citi, she earned her MBA from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.