My go-to source for info is always Marguerite Arnold. She is a prolific writer on the Cannabis Industry, a cannabis entrepreneur and a leading force for patient advocacy, legalization, and regulatory controls and standards. So naturally, I called her to get the view from the ground zero.
What is your biggest challenge these days?
Staying safe, and focussing on the next steps.
How is the Cannabis Industry impacted during the lockdown?
The industry got hit with a major sideswipe. Yes pharmacies are on the front lines in Germany, yes they are lifting delivery restrictions and calling dispensaries “vital” industry in the US, but ultimately, the industry got handed a major defeat with the delay of reclassification by the UN on March 2.
Should they be an essential service?
This industry is essential, starting with the fact that cannabis is not just a “narcotic.” Rec users certainly respond that way, but this drug has always been more than that. It is going to be a critical adjunct to whatever retroviral therapies are given out. COVID 19 is a retrovirus-like HIV. The drug (certainly Delta 9 THC) is as much “anti-viral” as an immune booster as “narcotic.” See HIV, but also conditions like arthritis and even other chronically ill patients whose immune systems are compromised both by their conditions and the medications they take.
How do we support medical clients?
Support medical clients by offering delivery, discounts and even freebies. This industry is about more than just profit. Fund trials. Support those who are doing the hard work of changing the laws. Lobby. And make sure that this time, the industry is not second stepped by “other” drugs. This is a critical drug to fight this kind of viral plague, even if it is given to healthy people to boost their immune systems. And lobby for “recreational” reform NOW! If the entire population has access to a relatively cheap plant to keep healthy and relax in times of extreme stress, there will be less social upheaval. Support domestic cultivation reform, including licensed patient grows, where ever you are. Supply chains need to be localized.
How does the lockdown impact growing?
The lockdown impacts growing but not as much as one might expect. The regulated industry is required to wear protective gear anyway. However, what I hope this does is also convince governments globally to support community efforts to start growing locally, with licenses. If we can move the world to find a cure, and suspend all kinds of laws in the process, why not speed up the obvious. Full and Final Reform Now!
What has inspired you in the last week?
I am the first in my Jewish family to return to Germany to live, and the going has been tough (my father was murdered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2012 as I tried to bring him back here with me – with no investigation or prosecutions so far). I never expected this journey to be easy, but it is my “Aliyah” (Jewish journey of faith). I know my voice will make a difference here and I am determined, even more, to make that happen.
Will this have a lasting impact on cannabis events?
I think this will have a lasting impact on the industry itself, but events should not continue to be delayed…..they are also “critical” to the industry. especially with a hanging vote in the UN. Virtual conferences as well as secure in-person conferences are vital and should be considered “medical conferences.” Even if we all have to wear face masks, and tote hand sanitizer, it is critical that the industry maintains its voice and its networking in person. Virtual conferences in this environment will not do the trick.
What advice do you have for cannabis businesses?
Advice? Help your clients by implementing safety measures. And double down on lobbying, doctor education and changing laws. How many more epidemics do we all have to survive before there is full and final reform?
What is the first thing you want to do when this is over?
I am not sure this will be “over” soon. The world is going to look very different in the next couple of years. What I would like to see however, during this period of time is that the stigma around cannabis finally disappears. I will celebrate when that happens. I have lost too many friends to previous viral outbreaks. But, short of that? A normalized economy, better healthcare for everyone and a world that understands that we depend on each other, even if we do not want to. Everyone is responsible.
Months from now, what will we have learned from all this?
Months if not years from now what will we have learned? Not sure. So far the response seems to be in the US, bail out the big guys, instead of real economic reform, which includes lessened inequality and equal access to decent healthcare for all if not a reduced dependency on fossil fuels and “business as usual.”. Our healthcare systems are overwhelmed by this, everywhere. And that is a result of lessened spending and old fashioned thinking as well as global warming and massive global pollution. Telehealth will finally reach its time, but there are many issues here as well including privacy to be considered. There is no “easy” fix…but perhaps this episode will finally empower those who want real change and not more of the same.
Marguerite Arnold – Founder of MedPayRx and CannaClear. She has covered the cannabis industry from Germany as a freelance “foreign cannabis correspondent” since 2014. She has also written two ebooks about the cannabis industry, the second of which will come out in 2020. In addition to her writing and consulting work, she is the co-founder of two startups in the cannatech and compliance space – MedPayRx and CannaClear. She obtained her EMBA from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in 2017.