This has been a tough week for medical marijuana entrepreneurs in Northern California.
In Napa, the City Council voted 3-2 to ban medical dispensaries, while the board of supervisors in neighboring Solano County voted to permanently prohibit all medical cannabis operations in unincorporated areas.
The bans highlight the need for entrepreneurs to play an active role in the political process.
Entrenched political views, stubbornness and fear-mongering appear to have swayed the vote in both areas.
Opponents raised age-old – and mostly discredited – concerns about the medical cannabis business, such as the possibility of increased youth access. In Napa, children from local schools even spoke at a hearing to bolster this argument.
Lawmakers also exhibited a general lack of awareness about the industry.
In Solano County, one supervisor admitted that officials hadn’t done enough research on dispensaries. Another said he attended only three of the five public outreach meetings on medical marijuana.
To overcome these challenges, supporters must work to educate lawmakers and the public about medical marijuana and the business in general. Assuaging long-held fears and shooting down stereotypes is a great way to enact political change, and it could have been enough to tip the scales in both Napa and Solano County.