Episode 51 - Double episode: Can Corporations Get Legal Cannabis Right?
That’s the question this episode obliquely addresses with two insightful men: Kris Krane, activist turned co-founder of 4Front, an investment and multistate dispensary firm, and Bruce Barcott, Deputy Editor at Leafly, who asks if corporate insensitivity and greed killed NY’s failed legalization effort.
This episode is supported by Atlas Growers.
Corporate cannabis has been facing some strong headwinds as of late. In March, former Leader of the House John Boehner took the stage at South By Southwest to explain how he became a supporter of legal cannabis and board member of Acreage Holdings. Outside the hall small protests flared. Their concern was that he was lining his pockets without acknowledging how the Drug War policies he supported continue to keep people locked in jail for cannabis offenses. Other activists are grumbling that newly formed companies are pulling in billions without supporting orgs like NORML, Marijuana Policy Project, or Drug Policy Alliance that have done the hard work of driving change over the last 60 years. Some CEOs even brag that they have never used the plant in an attempt to woo skittish investors and distance themselves from the culture.
Kris Krane thinks that is a bone-headed idea, akin to the head of a wine company distancing himself from his product because he fears being labeled a drunk. An activist turned businessman, Krane occupies a unique position in the industry. He earned his bona fides on the advocacy side, first as associate director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and subsequently as co-founder of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, where he campaigned to scale back the law that denies federal financial aid to students with drug convictions. Today, as leader of 4front he sees his role as building bridges between advocates who fought to change the laws that businesspeople are now profiting from.
Our short interview is with Leafly’s Bruce Barcott, who last week penned a piece examining how New York, a state with over 20 million people (and the country’s largest cannabis black market), bungled legalization. Was Governor Cuomo, never a natural ally of cannabis, too anemic in his support for legalization? Were legislators happy to let the issue die on the vine for fear of voter backlash? Or did certain cannabis corporations, in their urgency to grab market share, run roughshod over advocates who were trying to ensure justice and funding for communities decimated by the drug wars?
Listen in to hear Bruce’s take on this historic missed opportunity.
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