Drive down any Los Angeles freeway and you’re hit with billboards from every major cannabis brand, each angling to sell you weed in a brand new world. They’re doing it in a whole slew of different ways: some use sex, others offer the cheap deals, the convenience, or the aspirational lifestyles. But it’s very rare that a cannabis brand uses that platform to educate people on the complexity or politics of being a cannabis consumer, because that message isn’t what the consumers wants—or so these brands think.
But is that true?
Well, if we track the behavior of the modern consumer across other categories we know that they’re very thoughtful about everything they buy—the food, the beauty products, the clothing. They are practiced at reading labels, asking questions, and getting to know the people behind the products. They’ll pay more for quality and they don’t shy away from researching and reading pages on pages of reviews.
They want to know if the products they support are ethically sourced, clean, developed by people who share their values, and beautiful enough to fit their lifestyles. And of course, they want to know if these products work. They are, in a nutshell, very seasoned “conscious consumers."
But being a conscious consumer in a highly familiar category like food, fashion, or beauty is a whole different beast than being one in a category that is brand new. A category like, say, weed.
The historical scheduling of cannabis alongside substances like heroine has left this industry to self-regulate for the better part of a century. And truth be told, without any lines of accountability, that just means it’s been the Wild West. There hasn’t been much meaningful education or peer-reviewed studies on cannabis, the products, the applications, the form factors, the benefits, or the pitfalls. What we’ve come to know about weed, we’ve learned from hearsay—or from our drug dealers. That is, until recently when states began legalizing.
"The absence of conscious consumption in the cannabis space ... can have very damaging implications for the consumer, for the industry, and for those who have been directly impacted by the War on Drugs."
All this to say, when a consumer approaches this category with the intention to be a conscious consumer, they don’t really know where to begin. And that makes sense. At Miss Grass, our belief is that the absence of conscious consumption in the cannabis space especially, can have very damaging implications for the consumer, for the industry as a whole, and for those who have been directly impacted by the War on Drugs.
The recent scare around vaping is just one tangible example of what happens when the consumer doesn’t have the information they need to advocate for themselves. But beyond the obvious question of ingredients and hardware that can negatively impact a consumer’s health, this industry is currently laying the foundation for what it can look like in the future. We are setting the standard for the kinds of products and players that this industry embraces and elevates. And that’s something that the consumer has the power to shape and determine, at least much more quickly than any regulatory bodies have been able to.
If the consumer speaks up and votes with their dollars, the industry will start to reflect a demand for high quality, safe, and effective products.
But beyond the immediate issues with product, one of the greatest threats to this industry is also its greatest opportunity: the cannabis industry has the power to shift the political fabric of this country by addressing and repairing harms caused by the War on Drugs. There is a finite amount of time to do this and so far, the collective industry and governing bodies haven’t done a good job.
In part, that’s been because there’s been a mad dash to make money in this industry quickly. And focusing on altruism hasn’t always been a capitalist's preferred strategy. But we’re already starting to see what happens when companies cut corners to be profitable quickly—and it’s not good for anyone.
"If the consumer speaks up and votes with their dollars, the industry will start to reflect a demand for high quality, safe, and effective products."
Just last year, nearly 700,000 people were arrested for cannabis crimes. 92 percent of those arrests were for possession alone. The War on Drugs continues to cost this country 78 billion dollars annually. And it's predominantly people of color who are affected by these numbers and disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.
Being arrested for cannabis is no small thing either. These records live with people, affecting their ability to get jobs, find housing, and vote. Of course, this has a huge impact on the children and families of people who have met this fate. Right now, we have an opportunity to repair the injustices that have long plagued this country—by using the cannabis industry to set the tone.
There are brands out there who prioritize the bigger opportunity. As a cannabis consumer, your job is not to be versed in quite the same way you may be accustomed to being versed in other categories. It's new information, after all. Your job is to understand your power as a consumer to truly shape where this industry goes, and by extension, where it takes society.
The other stuff—the products and ingredients—are important, but that much you know how to navigate. Miss Grass is just here to remind you that the stakes here are that much higher and we need every bit of support we can get to make it right.