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BostInno Panel: From Reducing Stigma to Driving Justice: Notes on the Future of Cannabusiness

19 Jul 2019 12:36 PM | Marion (Administrator)


From Reducing Stigma to Driving Justice: Notes on the Future of Cannabusiness

By Rowan Walrath - July 19, 2019

What is the future of the budding cannabis industry in Massachusetts?

That was the topic of BostInno’s State of Innovation: The Future of Cannabis meetup last night. The event was presented by General Assembly at its 13th-floor space at 125 Summer St. The panel featured Beth Waterfall, executive director of ELEVATE Northeast; Dr. Marion McNabb, co-founder and CEO of C3RN; and Adam Fine, a partner at Vicente Sederberg. Over the course of the evening, these experts explored topics like reducing the stigma around marijuana consumption, how small businesses can break into an industry already fraught with consolidation, and some of the Bay State’s biggest hurdles for the cannabis business.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.

Know the Regulations Before You Go In

Massachusetts’ marijuana regulations are infamously unstable (we recently put together a timeline of the changing rules and policies). If you’re planning on going into the cannabis industry, make sure you know your stuff. Ancillary businesses face less scrutiny than those that handle the plant directly, but the law applies to all.

Fine noted that if you can, you should hire a consultant to make sure you’re in line.

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Adam Fine, Managing Partner @VScannabislaw: “There’s a lot of regulatory risk at the state level and there’s a lot of businesses that fail.”

7:17 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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Beth Waterfall, executive director, @ELEVATE_NE: “We all have a repsponsibilty to follow the regulations ... We’re all under a microscope.”

7:26 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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Srividya K

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Adam Fine of @VScannabislaw says it is not too late for businesses to step in, and not be scared of regulations. “Regulators will regulate.” #SOIBOS

7:18 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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The Time to Destigmatize is Now

As Waterfall put it, the cannabis industry is working against a multi-decade marketing campaign that effectively stigmatized the use of marijuana, ultimately fueling the War on Drugs. It’s imperative for professionals in this space to destigmatize—in their businesses, at home, and at events like this.

Srividya K

@srvdyak

“Our job is to destigmatize,” says Dr. McNabb of @C3ResearchNet #SOIBOS

7:23 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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Dr. Marion McNabb, co-founder and CEO, @C3ResearchNet: “The cannabis industry has HR, legal support, data, analytics ... I think there’s a lot of opportunities ... I think our job is to really destigmatize.”

7:23 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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Bake Restorative Justice Principles Into Your Business

As opportunity in cannabis-related business and innovation opens up, Massachusetts stakeholders have a responsibility to make space for people of color who were hit disproportionately hard by enforcement and policing when recreational marijuana was illegal (as recently, you’ll recall, as 2016).

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Waterfall: “As we’re sitting here tonight talking about making money and starting businesses, there are still people in jail for cannabis.” She says it’s our responsibility to change that.

7:31 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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One way the state is working to fix that imbalance going in is through social equity programs. Business leaders can and should take advantage of that framework. Plus, be thoughtful when it comes to the people you hire and the vendors you work with. How can you support your local community?

Srividya K

@srvdyak

· Jul 18, 2019

“Each company is required to submit a plan to create a positive impact plan for these communities. Not just throw money at the problem,” says Dr. McNabb of @C3ResearchNet #SOIBOS

Srividya K

@srvdyak

“It is really remarkable, I have always commented at how amazing our social equity program is. Everyone hired lobbyists but the most effective lobbyists were grassroots organizations. We have the most comprehensive process in Mass.,” says Adam Fine of @VScannabislaw #SOIBOS

7:35 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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Waterfall: “From hiring to the vendors you use to the accountant you use, acknowledge the opportunity to do social justice ... Who can you loop in who’s outside of your payroll?”

7:35 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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McNabb: “If you’re a dispensary in X town, are you supporting your neighboring business and rising the community?”

7:36 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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There’s Plenty of Opportunity for Small Businesses to Get a Foothold

In the face of major consolidation moves—think Surterra Wellness’s acquisition of New England Treatment Access and the planned merger of Curaleaf Holdings with Cura Partners—there’s still plenty of space for the little guys. In fact, the prevalence of big cannabusiness can create buyout opportunities for entrepreneurs who want an exit strategy for their business.

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Fine: “I think there’s room for everybody. It’s absolutely not too late for small businesses ... if you can deal with total regulatory pain and stress, then you can make it in Mass.”

7:41 PM - Jul 18, 2019

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Srividya K

@srvdyak

· Jul 18, 2019

Replying to @srvdyak

The cannabis industry is so new but we have already seen some big business moves, and looming threat of consolidation, where does that leave the middle guys, asks @rowanwalrath #SOIBOS

Srividya K

@srvdyak

“There is a lot of false narrative about this: Companies raise money in Canada and bought small companies. I have seen some big businesses who don’t do that well. Then you have a small operator who is more precise. There is room for everyone” -Adam Fine of @VScannabislaw #SOIBOS

7:42 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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Srividya K

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· Jul 18, 2019

Replying to @srvdyak

“Think of this business as you would about any other,” says @BethWaterfall of Elevate NE #SOIBOS

Srividya K

@srvdyak

“Power and strength of small businesses should help this,” says Dr. McNabb of @C3ResearchNet #SOIBOS

7:46 PM - Jul 18, 2019 · Boston, MA

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Thank you to all who came out last night. Join us in August for BostonFest, our summer pillar event and celebration of the city’s best cultures in the innovation class. Before the party, make sure to vote in our Coolest Companies Competition. Reader’s choice voting closes July 25.


Original article: https://www.americaninno.com/boston/bostinnos-state-of-innovation/from-reducing-stigma-to-driving-justice-notes-on-the-future-of-cannabusiness/?fbclid=IwAR3TnGG1129MZ18A2eR_e5vXqX3ehPf2-mvLiv2WuEYgg-VLfxqoCvCKiMc



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