Author: Lindsay Deen

5 Reasons Cannabis Businesses Should Pay Attention to Local Issues

For many, the machine we call “American politics” seems like nothing so much as an overrated reality television show starring criminals and people fully indoctrinated into a failing two-party system. However, one amazing aspect of our political system does respond directly to citizens. However, there are several reasons cannabis businesses should pay attention to and weigh in on local issues.

The local governments of cities, towns, and counties make real and impactful decisions every day. Local officials are often easily accessible to average citizens and business owners. City council meetings usually stay open to the public and accept public commentary. The councilmen and councilwomen listen to their concerned business owners and citizens, even when they don’t agree with us. That’s their job. 

Most actionably, replacing a city council representative when they hold up important legislation or have corruption issues can be a much easier process than getting rid of someone in a higher echelon of power in our government. Compliance with local rules and regulations is certainly key for anyone looking to enter discussions with local representatives. As such, iComply wants to share five reasons why we in the Cannabis industry should pay attention to local issues and local politics.

1. Local issues affect our everyday lives. 

Are your employees not happy with the bus system in your city? Do they complain about potholes when performing transfers of products? Is a local highway in terrible disrepair and often avoided during commutes or deliveries? Is the local city council trying to block cannabusiness-related initiatives or ballot measures? Local governments handle these everyday issues. Depending on how your city or local charter is written, these issues may be handled by your city council or by another local governing body. 

The details managed by these local leaders can pile up. It is important for industry members and associations to weigh in and donate money to help solve local issues and participating goes a long way in building legitimacy for cannabis business and building brand recognition in specific markets. 

Involvement in local issues raises employee awareness and allows businesses to create a culture that cares about its local community. In new States, applicants receive more merit based points on cannabis applications by proving their commitment to their community engagement.

Additionally, involvement helps your team to be in the know about changes to local and State rules that affect cannabis business. Any unfair rulings by local city council members can be systematically targeted, discussed, and often resolved when businesses coordinate with local officials and departments.

2. The people elected to local positions act as the first line of government. 

City Councils and County Commissioners exist as the most accessible part of government to the average citizen or business owner. They stand as the figureheads one can actually talk to regarding any issues or concerns. City Councils and County Commissions in most local governments work to make their communities better places. 

Cannabis business owners and employees should meet with and talk to local governmental officials. If we don’t discuss concerns and share our vision for the future, then the industry will not have a voice in policies that may affect operations, jobs, and lives. For instance, when the City Council of Colorado Springs, CO moved to ban recreational Cannabis Cultivation, manufacturing, and sales, the nearby town of Manitou Springs, CO took a different track. 

iComply led the effort in Manitou to approach city officials in a collaborative manner, educate them on the cannabis industry, and work with stakeholders to figure out how to effectively manage recreational cannabis in their town. This allowed recreational cannabis businesses to be licensed Manitou for the first time and created tremendous value for the two operations in business there. 

Compliance is a key factor for businesses looking to leverage elected officials for approval, extra merit based points, and proving documented compliance. iComply’s validation goes a long way in changing opinions and proactively validating internal compliance efforts.

The documentation of operational compliance serves to educate officials about compliant business operations and builds confidence in Cannabis brands and businesses for local governments. Since cannabusiness generates a fair amount of tax revenue, most savvy officials will listen and consider the needs of our industry when it can prove its legitimacy.

3. Participation in local politics allows community stakeholders to prevent and limit corruption and tyranny. 

Democracy requires participation. The People ultimately rule any democracy, and together, we can work to create communities that find common ground. To prevent the hijacking of a local system, local government charters often possess safeguards to allow the People to transform laws, rules, and functions of their local government. 

This includes the following possibilities:

  • Gathering signatures for ballot initiatives
  • Using the right to freedom of speech to voice concerns, and
  • Exercising the rights to petition the government for grievances.

Because the Cannabis industry is so new and so unique, it is critical to voice industry needs now. Doing so creates a path to successful cooperation with local governments. 

In such discussions, officials may carry institutional prejudice against cannabis businesses and may target them more heavily than State regulators. Since both State and local governments may enforce rules and ordinances, it is important to have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s crossed. Failure to prove these efforts to local officials can still result in heavy fines, suspension, or revocation of local licensure. 

Good record keeping and clear compliance strategies create consistent third-party validated success in compliance. This allows businesses to mitigate against tyrannical or corrupt local jurisdiction and targeted enforcement. iComply documentation provides credibility and evidence in the face of local enforcement to insulate cannabusinesses from this risk.

4. Local issues often set the stage for political moves on the state and national level. 

When cannabis businesses are concerned about a specific issue, others in various States likely feel the same way. For instance, poorer localities were hit hardest by recent economic downturns, and COVID impacts caused many governments to adjust procedures. Additionally, zoning issues, fire code, and building code issues are generally applicable across the board but interpreted differently. When cannabis businesses pay attention to local issues, they can stay one step ahead of changes that affect their business.

As well, cannabis businesses have a unique opportunity to make a difference in their communities. We can literally create new industry and effect change on the local level to solve pressing local problems. Compliance acts as such an integral part of the industry in Colorado. Now, elected officials can no longer dismiss the Cannabis industry as only a nominal market force. They have to take us seriously.

5. We can hold our representatives accountable.

Concerned business owners and citizens can hold local politicians accountable. Holding local politicians to their promises and responsibility is far easier than with national politicians. For instance, in Colorado, we regularly recall elected officials when they renege on election promises. Don’t like what our state officials did? We can write letters, visit in person, start recall petitions, and even vote them out during the next election. As well, with local politics, it’s a lot easier to rally support or opposition for local issues. The easiest place to change laws exists within the local and state government. Luckily, our localities can change laws by petition. A great example exists: the movements to legalize marijuana all began locally. As the movement garnered support, more and more states have legalize or decriminalized cannabis.

If we think globally and act locally with clear compliance strategies in mind, our actions can instigate change in our respective areas. Local change may take a while to trickle up to the federal government. However, taking a stand locally causes ripples that actually affect the larger world.

Local issues create a background of case law that the federal government cannot ignore forever.

National conversations about legalizing cannabis are already underway, and great strides forward occurred with the 2018 Farm Bill, which reclassified Hemp and allowed farming across the nation. In short, monitoring local issues help cannabis businesses build their brand and connect to their communities. This also builds legitimacy for the industry. Not to mention, local action allows cannabis industry workers to encourage cannabis-friendly attitudes and educate the public on responsible use. Acting locally offers a unique opportunity to our industry to be the change we want to see in the world.

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