By The Biz Team (Jules)
With more and more states beginning to legalize marijuana sales, it would stand to reason that quite a few people are about to be released from prison. Right? I mean, there are people serving life sentences for doing something that is now, perfectly legal in some states. There are enough people serving life sentences, in fact, that a website called Life for Pot has been created, in order to track the amount of people who are incarcerated for doing something that some citizens and politicians finally realize is actually a good thing. So if selling weed is becoming more of an acceptable business practice, wouldn’t it make sense to release anyone who’s been incarcerated for selling it? How is it that a group of mostly white, privileged entrepreneurs can legally grow and sell weed in places like Nevada City, California, making enough money to travel and buy real estate all over the world; while someone like Corvain Cooper is set to spend the rest of his life in prison, for basically doing the same thing? The only difference in their actions? In addition to selling weed, Corvain was found guilty of money laundering and tax evasion. Well…he was selling an (formerly) illegal product, what would you expect?
In prison, job training is scarce. Unless they want to make license plates (or Victoria’s Secret lingerie) for the rest of their lives, most prisoners will not be well equipped for survival once they are released. This means that, if public pressure forces the government to release nonviolent drug offenders, a ripe group of creatively business minded people will soon be out on the streets, many with no college education, and a felony on their record. Not exactly the best candidates for a life that will keep them off the streets and out of trouble. Their best bet would probably be to go into business for themselves.
Think of how enterprising one has to be in order to sell a product efficiently, profitably…and secretly. Take Corbain for example, he was resourceful enough to pack and ship weed from California to North Carolina, and funnel the money through a variety of bank accounts to avoid being found out. Genius! It’s fascinating to watch Jason Bateman do that on Ozark, but this guy actually lived it!
Aside from being savvy in order to avoid jail time, there are several other skills required to start and maintain a marijuana business:
When you're selling a product that you can't publicly advertise, developing relationships is vital. Word of mouth referrals are paramount to keeping your business alive, so maintaining close ties with your clientele is key to having a successful and longstanding business. This is a skill that most people aren't taught, so finding people who inherently have it, is extremely valuable.
A lot of weed dealers operate alone, which means they take on the full responsibility of moving and selling product. This requires a great deal of organization and efficiency, so they can maximize their profits. In other cases, large level operations require an organized hierarchy, made up of people carrying out different levels of trade activity i.e., importing, laundering, acquiring clients, selling, etc. Overseeing these operations requires a tremendous amount of responsibility, skill, and business acumen.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
Offering "freemiums," or free samples of new product, is a tried and true method for weed dealers to stay ahead of the game. Staying informed on their products, and up to date on new product, is also a common sense practice. Many weed dealers also smoke pot themselves, which means they test their product, and are not only passionate about it, but can offer firsthand knowledge on it.
To leave people with this sort of business experience and know-how to fend for themselves after leaving prison, is a gross waste of talent. It would make sound business sense to invest in those who are being released from prison for selling weed, and help them start their own business, whether it's in marijuana or not. They could also be offered equity and/or employment in an already operating legal dispensary. Not only does this make sound business sense, though, it is also the just thing to do.
Making social justice a part of your business plan is always wise, no matter what industry you're in. But legal marijuana is a business where we actually have the opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past...and make money at the same time. In a recent article on Denver's top ten marijuana moguls, it was hard not to notice that each one was a white male. With more and more people becoming aware of and concerned about racial and gender inequality, it is impossible, and some might even say immoral, to ignore this issue. And with more people expecting business practices to reflect social change, it may even be unprofitable.