Thursday, May 23, 2013

"The Coming Age of Corporate Cannabis"

From VICE:
Get Rich or High Trying

Image collage by Courtney Nicholas.
At this moment in history, you've got to choose between being in favor of legalization, or being against 'the system.'”

Mason Tvert is leading a quick tour of what he irreverently describes as the Marijuana Manor—a genteel, three-story, historically-registered, 1880s-era brick and stained-glass building in downtown Denver that was recently converted into permanent office space for a consortium of do-gooders fighting to make legal cannabis work in America. The building houses four separate activist organizations, a trade association, and a law firm. Tvert is clad in a conservative suit jacket and tie worn above a pair of faded blue-jeans—an ensemble compiled in deference to a remote television appearance earlier in the day that shot him from the waist up. His clashing outfit offers an unintended statement on the split-personality of the pot world right now: Business in the front, party in the back.

Last November, Tvert certainly had plenty of reason to celebrate, after heading a historic campaign that saw voters in Colorado approve Amendment 64 by a wide margin, ushering in a new era of state-legal commercial cannabis cultivation and retail sales of up to an ounce for all adults 21 and over. A similar ballot initiative in Washington State also passed easily on the unforgettable night when pot outperformed the president, while making headlines around the world.

To date, lawmakers in both states continue to work out exactly how to implement the herb-friendly will of their citizenry, ever-mindful that a miraculous crop that can't kill you, won't hurt you, and just might heal you remains fully illegal under federal law, even if you've got terminal cancer and floor seats to see Phish. Despite the fact that smoking a joint remains a lot less dangerous than swilling booze. Not to mention that the same federales imposing cannabis prohibition ultimately answer to a guy best known in his youth for “roof hits,” “interceptions,” and sharing some righteous Maui Wowie with the Choom Gang.

Tvert has made such hypocrisy at the highest levels the centerpiece of his messaging ever since co-founding Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) in 2005. From erecting billboards declaring “Marijuana: No Hangovers. No Violence. No Carbs," to publicly calling brewpub pioneer turned Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper a “drug dealer,” SAFER never misses a chance to challenge cultural norms that have us blithely cheering on a Jack Daniels-sponsored NASCAR team, while kicking down the doors of otherwise law-abiding ganja smokers.

So, I wonder, now that the good guys finally won big, how long until the Denver Nuggets (pun abstained) start offering an officially-licensed glass bong alongside the collectible beer mugs and shot glasses they already sell to basketball fans of all ages?

Well, don't hold your breath, but with the smart money increasingly looking to marijuana as the nation's biggest new business boom since the internet, don't look away either.

“The Silicon Valley of cannabis is already happening,” Troy Dayton, co-founder of the Arcview Group, assures me as his angel investor network prepares to gather venture capitalists and pot entrepreneurs together in Seattle for the second time in three months. Attendees from both camps pay Arcview a sizable fee to participate....MUCH MORE