“If you build it, they will come.” It’s the most memorable line from the movie Field of Dreams.
It also reflects the view of some of those who entered the cannabis industry following the passage of Amendment 64. “If we build a shop, customers will come.”
And come they did; making purchases of more than $699 million in 2014 and bringing more than $76 million into the state’s tax coffers. Great news!
With the legalization of cannabis now in its second year, you might think the battles of the past are over. But the naysayers haven’t given up. And they aren’t going away.
With its emergence from the shadows into the spotlight, our industry has come under increasing attack from individuals and groups across the state who aren’t happy that cannabis is now legal in Colorado.
A Feb. 7 article in The Cannabist reported on the increasing number of communities attacking the cannabis industry. According to the article, more and more communities are gathering support to lobby for restrictions on cannabis businesses in their towns. And many of them are succeeding.
You can read the entire story here and find a list of grassroots community efforts against marijuana across Colorado … from Palmer Lake, Brush and Granby to Breckenridge, Wheat Ridge and Pueblo.
While the resistance is generally small and confined to individual communities or neighborhoods, the detractors have shown they can carry the day, often with significant negative impacts for the industry and businesses in those communities.
For example, the article tells the story of a single individual in Wheat Ridge who established an anti-cannabis group to keep a cannabis store from opening in her neighborhood. Residents of the community joined forces with her to lobby city leaders. The result: the city council voted to cap the number of marijuana businesses at the then existing number, killing the proposed business and any others that might follow.
There are more stories like that.
Whether this pushback is representative of “growing pains” or a “not in my backyard” mentality, successful attacks like those outlined in the story provide fuel for more, and put the industry as a whole in jeopardy.
These groups take well-crafted stories to their neighbors, who then take the stories to their local civic, business and elected leaders. And, because cannabis businesses don’t counter these groups effectively, the outcome is often a foregone conclusion.
Resistance will continue. Just as cannabis opponents are telling their stories, we in the industry need to tell ours.
Our industry is doing good things in Colorado. We’re a model for other states and even countries considering legalizing cannabis. We don’t resist regulations to improve safety, we suggest them. Our industry has given funds for research into the use of cannabis to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. We’ve established educational materials for use in local schools.
Our communities, the places we rely on for our business need to know about the good things we … you … do.
If you don’t tell them, they won’t know and the anti-cannabis forces will have their day again and again and …