Cannabis professionals deserve credit for their perseverance

Published Mar 15, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / gustavofrazao

This last year has been full of so many ups and downs that it’s a miracle so many of us are still left standing. The cannabis space has faced a number of challenges, but those in it have risen to the occasion each and every single time to meet the needs of employees, consumers, and communities. It’s been a long hard road, and we couldn’t have made it this far without so many dedicated cannabis professionals in the business.

In the beginning

2020 didn’t get off to a terrible start. It was a new beginning, or so we thought, as we watched thousands of brand-new cannabis businesses get up and running for the first time in history. It was exciting and full of challenges, but perseverance paid off with the blooming of bustling legal industries.

Unfortunately, the eagerness to get started was harshly stalled by governments too afraid of what it might mean to allow unfettered access to a new substance. This resulted in an incredibly slow rollout of pot products and licenses that is still ongoing today.

Some cannabis professionals were left frustrated, losing money in business plans and dreams while awaiting the results of lotteries and application systems. What for a short time felt like a surefire win was suddenly a new, more evolved struggle. Still, those who chose this path stuck it out, and did their best, hoping for better times ahead.

Difficulty with branding

No matter where you look in cannabis, there are numerous rules to follow that are almost endless. It’s a maze of complicated restrictions, especially when it comes to the tools that are used for advertising these kinds of businesses. Unfortunately, political pressure has not been enough to loosen these regulations, but cannabis professionals have gone above and beyond to compete in a world that is partially blind and succeeded while doing it.

Though branding is still an active struggle today, it isn’t a big enough problem to hold most of these green businesses back. Creativity and inspiration have managed to replace traditional marketing and advertising practices in a way that’s almost as efficient. When you consider the fact that no other industry has gone through this, that’s a pretty incredible feat.

Attacking the virus

By December of 2020, COVID-19 had already taken hold in China, but most of the world remained oblivious to the tragedy until February. That’s when it became clear that the virus wasn’t going to stop at any borders, and that’s all it took for dozens of cannabis businesses to step up. As the world faced severe PPE shortages, producers did everything possible to share what they had to help.

Donations were made including everything from masks to hand sanitizer, gloves, and full-body suits in a contribution that ultimately made a huge difference in the lives of millions during the earliest days of the pandemic. It might be easy to forget, now that it’s in the past, feeling so far behind us, but it was a move that deserves the utmost recognition.

The shutdowns

March was the real heart-stopping month for millions, as governments around the world locked down in a united attempt to get a grip on the number of new COVID-19 infections. People were scared, hoarding things like groceries and toilet paper, and businesses shuttered to disperse as many crowds and gatherings as possible. It was a crazy time, and we weren’t at all prepared, but cannabis businesses didn’t skip a beat.

Some fought for essential business status, as governments had to decide between what was necessary and what wasn’t in coordinated shutdowns, while others shifted gears to offer entirely unique services that pre-covid had prohibited. Things like delivery and curbside pickup quickly replaced the in-person shopping experience, and they did it with no reported incidents, despite doubts that were cast by so many regulatory agencies.

Constantly shifting rules

We aren’t out of the woods with this whole pandemic thing just yet. We've got vaccines on the way, and it seems like good news isn’t too far off now, but while so many of us continue to spend more time than we’d like at home, cannabis businesses continue to reliably service the public. Rules at all levels are changing, and even once social distancing restrictions finally lift, the industry will continue to face a constantly revolving door of new hoops to jump through.

It’s not easy to build up a brand-new industry from nothing, and what’s made this endeavor even more challenging is the crazy amount of change that is always happening. It takes skill, dedication, pride, and sacrifice to keep up with it all, and for that, we’d like to thank all cannabis professionals because, without them, none of this would be possible.

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