We’ve had this blog up and running for about a month now, and during that time I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several dozen dispensary owners, lobbyists, vendors, investors, lawyers and other key players in the industry about the current landscape.
These individuals have given me some solid insight into this crazy sector, where nothing is as it seems at first glance and everything can change overnight.
Along the way, I discovered that a lot of the assumptions about medical marijuana dispensaries simply aren’t true. I now find myself dispelling myths about the industry to people on the outside, much like you all find yourselves doing as well.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to explore some of these stereotypes over the next few weeks with a series of posts tackling the many misconceptions out there about medical marijuana dispensaries. I’ll write about another myth every other day or so. Please feel free to comment and/or chime in with your own.
Let’s kick things off today with my favorite…
Myth No. 1 – All dispensary owners are stoners with little to no professional experience
The public’s impression of the industry is definitely skewed in this regard. Many people I talk to on the outside looking in seem to think dispensaries are run by potheads who smoke 24/7, couldn’t care less about the medicinal side of the industry and have little professional experience or advanced education. Others think drug overlords from faraway countries rule the sector with an iron fist, engaging in shady deals in dimly lit backrooms.
OK, so both of these elements do actually seem to be present to some degree in the industry. I’ve seen examples of the former and heard stories from trusted sources about the latter.
But to lump everyone in the industry into one of these two categories is a big mistake.
I’ve talked to plenty of dispensary owners with bachelor’s degrees and a handful with MBAs (including one with two master’s degrees). I’ve spoken with career entrepreneurs and people who came from the banking, investing, real estate, engineering, software and high-tech fields. I’ve met plenty of business-savvy, articulate and intelligent owners who don’t have a college education and probably do smoke a lot just for fun. Some successful owners I’ve met use marijuana because they have valid medical reasons, while others say they barely touch the stuff at all.
The point: There is no stereotypical owner. This is a diverse crowd, to be sure. In my experience, there are just as many professionals with impressive backgrounds running dispensaries as there are potheads who thought it would be cool to open a marijuana shop. And in some cases, they are one in the same.
Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily