One of the most positive and exciting aspects of being a part of the Federally illegal cannabis industry is that the opportunity for small businesses to grow is huge. Although media critics point the finger at the felonious background of many of the cannabis entrepreneurs, the green rush gives many formerly incarcerated a second chance at the American Dream. The opportunity to prosper often held back by background checks that eliminate candidates from jobs based on character, a judgement often made on people born into less than ideal circumstances, or perhaps people who made some mistakes in the maturing process, but are not violent criminals. Cannabis has much in common with formerly incarcerated, the plant has been persecuted and locked down by the Government when it has much still to contribute to more robust and diverse society. Drug use is a health issue, not a criminal one, and people continue to get locked away, freedom stolen by a Puritanical prison system. The Drug War, now ending, creates a new chance for formerly incarcerated citizens to seek legal ways to make reparations for past transgressions.
I went to the event in Manhattan to see the transformational work of Defy Ventures, a local charity which works hard to teach formerly incarcerated citizens entrepreneurial skills. After all, with the multi-national corporations unwilling to give these people a chance, grass roots sole proprietorship is their best opportunity to live an economically sustainable life. The event was a socially exciting opportunity. I came and paid $20 and got 20 tickets that I was to use as a currency to procure food and drinks, we were free to negotiate, wheel and deal, and then we evaluated the profit and losses of the teams, gave feedback, and the winning team was selected based on their financial success.
I couldn't help but wonder if any of the 20-30 formerly incarcerated in attendance had given cannabis industry any thought or if cannabis had played a role in their becoming incarcerated. I met Annie Brown, told her of our work at the CHA and she was delighted to have us in attendance and wanted to see if I would offer some mentoring to the community and of course I said yes. I couldn't help but want to assist these folks, many with families in their quest for equal opportunity.
I encourage everyone in the cannabis industry looking to make a difference to spend time with charities working with formerly incarcerated, just like Defy Ventures does. It's an opportunity to truly push forward drug policy, make a difference in your community, and let these people know that there is an industry growing that can turn around there past transgressions. Transgressions that can quickly be forgotten in America once wealth is obtained.