News broke yesterday that Coca-Cola is eyeing an entry into the cannabis industry in some fashion. The news seemed to be everywhere on the internet all day long, with some people touting it as a major turning point in the mainstreaming of cannabis. The report is definitely a big deal, but I don’t feel that it’s as earthshattering as some other members of the cannabis community do.
Coca-Cola is certainly a huge brand, arguably the biggest to date, but other brands that have been circling the cannabis industry are very prominent too and there are so many of them these days. That seems to reduce the overall surprise of the Coca-Cola news in my eyes, but to be fair, perhaps I am just numb to it these days. Of course Coca-Cola is taking a hard look at the cannabis industry. Every company that makes products that can be infused with cannabis are taking a hard look, some are just more public about their interest than others.
The invasion of corporations into the cannabis industry has caused concern in the cannabis community, and rightfully so. The cannabis industry has been a cottage industry for a long time, and it’s sad to see it being taken over by corporations that are obviously not always mindful of the values that the cannabis community has always stood for. It’s also sad to see people that fought so hard for cannabis reform being pushed out by companies with enormously deep pockets.
Some members of the cannabis community seem to be under the impression that there’s still time to completely prevent corporations from taking over a massive chunk of the cannabis industry. Make no mistake – corporations are already flooding the cannabis industry. Completely preventing them from entering the cannabis space is not a possibility. They are already here, and unfortunately, they are here to stay.
Rather than keep our heads in the sand or fight amongst each other we need to be realistic with our approach. We cannot completely prevent corporations from significantly entering the cannabis industry. They have way too much money and influence and we are simply outgunned. However, there are things that we can do to help mitigate the issue and prevent a complete corporate takeover.
For starters, we can all fight for rules and regulations that are favorable to small companies. Overburdensome rules and regulations and enormous fees benefit large corporations by making it impossible for small companies to enter the cannabis space and survive. Corporations have the resources to wait things out until enough small companies die off, then leverage their resources to lobby for more favorable rules for their companies after the fact. We need to fight for favorable rules from the jump.
We also need to educate consumers on the importance of a socially-conscious cannabis industry that involves small companies that promote the values of the cannabis movement. Otherwise greedy corporate culture will dominate and there will not be ‘a new kind of industry’ as my friend Jesce Horton says, and instead, there will just be ‘another industry.’ That cannot happen.
It is vital that consumers are educated on the superior quality of craft cannabis. Mass produced corporate cannabis is not as desirable as smaller batch craft cannabis, and consumers need to know the difference. It’s not going to happen on its own because many consumers will not know what they are missing. It’s up to the cannabis community to do everything that we can to make consumers aware of the difference, like what the Craft Cannabis Alliance has been doing (an outstanding org that we should all support!).
We cannot completely prevent corporations from engulfing a significant part of the cannabis industry. To falsely think that we can is to not live in reality in my opinion. But what we can do is carve out as big of a chunk of the industry for small businesses as we can. We cannot hit a grand slam because of what we are up against, but we sure as hell can hit a lot of home runs if we unite and go about it in a strategic way. If we don’t, small businesses will likely be pushed out of the cannabis industry entirely, and that would be a horrific thing. We can’t let it happen!