Federal Law Forces Cannabis Professionals to Prove Themselves

Embodying what it means to be a cannabis professional is a key component in establishing and preserving the quality of the cannabis industry. In this case, the word “professional” extends far beyond just simply working in the industry and getting paid. 

Female cannabis professional with a laptop wearing a tan jacketAs any other industry requires, maintaining a certain level of morale, intelligence, and respect is seen as a crucial part of success. The need for those qualities in a cannabis professional is especially imperative. Cannabis professionals must prove themselves as legitimate, even outside of the workplace. Our right to be here is still being threatened, and those in the industry answer unnecessary questions and skepticism. Our industry is new and the talent pool slim, adding additional barriers for those wanting to get into the cannabis industry. Cannabis was also deemed federally illegal under the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, effectively manipulating generations of people’s perception of cannabis, and therefore, the industry itself. The act was signed into law by the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Cannabis Professionals Can Change the Negative Perception

The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was later ruled as unconstitutional, however, cannabis’s federally illegal status remains. In the 1970s the Controlled Substances Act was put into effect, designed to rank individual substances by how dangerous they are. Cannabis was placed as a Schedule I substance, meaning it is harmful to those who use it and provides no medicinal value. Cannabis remains a Schedule I substance to this day and is classified by the federal government to be more dangerous than cocaine or fentanyl. Cannabis has since been made legal in many states, but this anti-cannabis message put out by the federal government has been ingrained into society’s brains for decades. Cannabis professionals in the legal industry have a unique opportunity to shift that mindset with the “gray” market we are currently in. 

Harry Anslinger and Friends Demonize Cannabis

Just seven years before the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was put into play, 38-year-old Harry J. Anslinger became the first commissioner of the Treasury’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Anslinger was a major driving force behind the launch of the prohibition, as well as a prominent and outspoken critic of cannabis use, and directly attacking those who use it. Anslinger is now most known for his racist association of cannabis and minorities and promoting the idea that cannabis will cause one to be violent and filled with rage. “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.​” Anslinger famously said. Many think of Anslinger when they think of prohibition, but he was not the only one committed to outlawing the plant. There have been a lot of political and prominent figures who came after him and reinforced his message. Aslinger’s and the comments of those who followed stuck in the minds of many Americans. It caused those who heard his propaganda to teach their children the same thing, creating generations of people who believe cannabis to be dangerous. This created mindset has proved to be detrimental to cannabis professionals, even today.

Large government meeting room with many chairs and desks. Many of the cannabis professionals involved in our industry have broken through that belief system and view cannabis as a valuable resource. It is our responsibility to extend those epiphanies, respect the work of those cannabis professionals and pioneers who came before us, and fight the stigma with our character.

Fight the Stigma as a Cannabis Industry Professional

So, what are some ways for those of us in the industry to combat the “killer cannabis” mindset? We have come up with what we believe to be two important and actionable moves in order to maintain professionalism in the industry. 

1) Get and stay educated

Education is key in the cannabis space. Are you prepared to answer even the toughest of questions, and can you source reputable resources for them to explore? The issue of the cannabis industry’s legitimacy needs to be addressed with facts in order to generate a mindset change. 

Quick facts to know: 

  • According to Leafly’s job report, the cannabis industry is the fastest-growing industry in the United States.
  • There has been an array of medical conditions that have shown great potential in responding to cannabis treatment. Just be careful you don’t make any health claims.
  • The cannabis industry brings a great opportunity for our economy to flourish.

Female cannabis professional tending to drying cannabis plants.

2) Know your reasons for using cannabis, and stick to them.

The idea of sitting around smoking cannabis all day is off-putting for many, especially if a cannabis professional says that is how they spend their time. When someone asks you why you use cannabis, be prepared to give them a compelling answer. “Because I like to get high” is not an answer that will provoke thought. Explaining that cannabis relieves your back pain after your car accident, and opiates have a high rate of addiction, can lead to important questions and curiosity.

Above all, respecting the plant and treating our industry with care will naturally translate to a professional demeanor.