Does it matter if we call it pot, or weed, or cannabis? Absolutely.
Last month, I travelled to Los Angeles to speak on a diversity panel at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo, the same conference Roger Stone had been ousted as keynote speaker for his racist, tone-deaf commentary. The discussion focused on the work my fellow panelists have done and are currently doing to include communities of color in the cannabis industry.
However, part of the discussion focused on the language used when talking about the plant. It’s no secret that cannabis has a range of nicknames, but should we use them? The words “pot” and “weed” are bastions of a different era. Using them calls forth images of lazy stoners and sketchy drug deals. On top of that, “marijuana” is racially-derived.
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Cannabis Industry Rallies to Overcome Unique Legal Barriers to Recovery From Northern California FiresRead Now
Image credit: Robyn Beck | Getty Images
Andre Bourque• Contributor
The cannabis industry has an unusual conundrum--its collective empathy and generosity extends beyond its ability to provide it.
Take the recent, catastrophic fires in Northern California as an example. Industry losses are mounting and the ability for the cannabis community to rally together is strong but has limitations.
The fires"These wildfires, especially in Northern California, are particularly devastating,” said Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather. “At this time, we estimate the economic impact of the fires is already approaching $70 billion. Based on our forecast the total costs from this disaster on the economy would exceed $85 billion and, if the fires are not contained in the next couple of weeks, the total economic impact could even reach $100 billion.”
Those numbers, however, do not take into account cannabis losses. Just as Sonoma and Napa Counties have a global footprint in wine agriculture, they have a lesser-known, yet high density of cannabis farms in areas as well. These fires have created a ripple effect across the entire local and regional economies, directly impacting at least 2,000 jobs. "We estimate cannabis farmers across the affected area have lost over $40 million in product at farm prices (over $150 million in retail value),” said Daniel D'Ancona, president of California Grow Services, in a written interview.
This had already been an extremely financially burdensome year for California cultivators even before the fires; efforts to move their businesses into the new compliant world claimed most of their cash-flow. California compliance costs are predicted to increase by $125,000 a year for small operations and by $310,000 a year for an average pot business. Chiah Rodriques, the CEO of Mendocino Generations, a collective of organic cannabis farmers in the county remarked, "So many of these people have literally spent their last dollar trying to get permitted."
Now facing an even greater financial hurdle with loss of crops (cannabis businesses don't qualify for crop insurance or federal emergency relief), they need help to make sure their businesses will survive. Farmers moved quickly to save their cannabis crop that didn't burn. Since many of the cultivating structures were burned, several companies and organizations rallied around the community offering support.
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Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.