Why the Cannabis Industry?
A lot of people have asked me why study the cannabis industry? This is a very exciting time to be a student of business. There are so many industries that are poised to take off in the next several years. Despite any fits and starts with bitcoin, there is no doubt, we are in the midst of a Blockchain Revolution. Physical product technologies like 3D Printing, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones), and NanoTechnology all promise to change the way we live, work, play, eat and who knows what else!? There are also several exciting natural product areas that are poised to take off – one example being pulses which are being promoted by friend and ex-business partner Alnoor Sheriff of Montreal (check out his cool high-protein pasta called “Bentilia”).
So why, with the stigma from 100 years of prohibition and generations of general societal pooh-poohing would I choose this industry?
Perhaps these arguments against involvement are indeed the reason for doing it. The idea of working in an area that promises its share of controversy and gut-wrenching political debate is a source of energy – something one needs at this stage of their career.
There’s more though. There are several other factors that push the cannabis industry to the top of the list – especially given that I live in Canada.
- I like studying and teaching entrepreneurship as well as dabbling in it. The cannabis industry has several sub-industries all full of young, creative and interesting entrepreneurs. There are many interesting stories.
- This industry can genuinely help people. If you can’t accept that the government has been keeping useful medicine from its citizens out of a misguided desire to protect them from the evil weed, then move on to #3. The truth is that cannabis should have never become controlled to the degree it was, and as a result many have suffered needlessly, either from side effects of pharmaceuticals, or lack of access to medicine that would ameliorate their conditions. I’m happy to do anything that might increase access for those who need it.
- I’m a libertarian at heart (small “l”, not the big “L” party… just the ideology). This is fundamentally a freedom issue. I don’t believe in victimless crimes. Arguably there has been much crime around the black market for cannabis, however this is because of the ban on its use. There is no evidence that would justify the response by western governments over the past century to the growing, use or sale of this naturally-occurring plant or its derivatives. The coming de-criminalization in Canada and several states over the next several months is simply an admission of this fact.
- The recent decision by the U.S. DEA that cannabis will remain a Schedule I drug is actually a gift for the Canadian cannabis industry. Were the U.S. to reverse their ban on even medical cannabis at the Federal level, the floodgates will open. They have referred the matter for more study to the FDA which gives the Canadian cannabis industry a head start. As a Canadian business educator and researcher, this is a great opportunity.
- Canada will be the first western democracy to totally de-criminalize cannabis and related products. There are great opportunities for Canadians to develop brands, technology, and other know how that will be in great demand elsewhere as other countries adopt similar policies. Scholars of the industry and its characteristics will be in demand as will those with experience in it.
- At the time of writing, the growth, sale and possession of cannabis and related products are illegal. The only legal avenues to pursue at the present time involve either obtaining a license from the Canadian government or selling ancillary products and knowledge. Studying the industry doesn’t involve the product itself and shouldn’t violate any laws here or in the U.S.
The cannabis industry in Canada and the U.S. promises to be a very interesting and exciting arena in which to study entrepreneurship. Like the Internet and the P.C., this is one of those society-wide game changers and you don’t want to be on the sidelines when it takes off.