Colombia: Asume Gustavo Petro, Primer Presidente de Izquierda, ¿Cómo Será su Política de Cannabis?

Nota por Nicolás José Rodríguez publicada originalmente en El Planteo. Más artículos por El Planteo en High Times en Español.

Síguenos en Instagram (@El.Planteo) y Twitter (@ElPlanteo).

Gustavo Petro asumió el domingo la presidencia de Colombia ante cientos de miles de personas que asistieron a la ceremonia de investidura en Bogotá.

El domingo fue un día histórico, ya que el ex senador se convirtió en el primer izquierdista en llegar a la presidencia en Colombia. La fórmula de Petro y Márquez obtuvo más de 11 millones de votos en la segunda vuelta de las elecciones del 19 de junio.

Contenido relacionado: Gustavo Petro, Francia Márquez y la Marihuana: Qué Piensan el Presidente Electo de Colombia y su Vice

Con cantos en las lenguas ancestrales de lxs “mayores” (líderes indígenas) y un gran mandala repleto de elementos de la naturaleza, Petro y Márquez, elegidos por la alianza Pacto Histórico, fueron investidos espiritualmente en la víspera de la investidura formal.

“Les quiero agradecer su presencia en este acto ceremonial. Aquí va a comenzar un gobierno de la paz, de la justicia ambiental, de la justicia social. El poder real está aquí, en el movimiento popular”, dijo Petro a las organizaciones sociales colombianas.

Durante su campaña, Petro prometió un esquema tributario “más progresivo y justo”. Afirmó que su administración buscará recaudar unos USD 11.500 millones y aumentar los recursos del Estado. En las últimas décadas, el país de 50 millones de habitantes se ha visto perjudicado por la inflación, el desempleo y la pobreza (39%).

Asimismo, el nuevo gobierno propone una serie de reformas para reducir la brecha entre ricos y pobres, recaudar impuestos y crear empleos dignos. Y también incluye la legalización del cannabis de uso adulto.

La política de Gustavo Petro sobre cannabis

Durante el acto del domingo, Petro aludió a la política antinarcóticos apoyada financiera y militarmente por Estados Unidos. “La guerra contra las drogas ha dejado un millón de latinoamericanos asesinados, durante estos 40 años, y deja 70 mil norteamericanos muertos por sobredosis cada año. La guerra contra las drogas ha llevado a los Estados a cometer crímenes y ha evaporado el horizonte de la democracia”, dijo.

Contenido relacionado: Cannabis en Colombia: Reescribiendo la Historia (Parte I)

En julio, el senador colombiano Gustavo Bolívar presentó un proyecto de ley para legalizar el cannabis de uso adulto. Con el presidente Petro, favorable al cannabis, el senador Bolívar aseguró que el nuevo proyecto será aprobado.

“El 20 de julio presentó de nuevo el Proyecto de Ley que regula la Marihuana de uso adulto. Con nuestras mayorías vamos a aprobarlo. Dejaremos de matarnos por una planta que en USA produce 25.000 millones de dólares/año y mejora la salud del consumidor”, tuiteó el senador Bolívar.

El propósito de la nueva legislación es crear un marco regulatorio para el cultivo, la producción, el almacenamiento, la transformación, la comercialización y el uso del cannabis y sus derivados para el consumo adulto.

¿Qué opina la industria del cannabis?

Según Luis Merchan, presidente y CEO de Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC), uno de los mayores operadores de cannabis en Colombia, se está generando un impulso social y político en el país en torno a la legalización del cannabis para uso adulto. Merchan señaló que el partido de Petro, Pacto Histórico, también tiene mayoría en el Congreso.

“Claramente, el presidente Gustavo Petro es el líder del partido y claramente hay mucho optimismo, [esto es] un impulso positivo hacia la legalización de un marco de uso de cannabis para uso adulto“, dijo Merchan a El Planteo.

Contenido relacionado: Colombia: Así Es el Plan del Presidente Electo para Impulsar el Cannabis y el Cáñamo

Para Andrés Fajardo, CEO de Clever Leaves (NASDAQ: CLVR), una empresa internacional de cannabis con operaciones en la Unión Europea, Norteamérica y Colombia, el momento político del país puede ser adecuado para una reforma legal que aproveche la experiencia local y las ventajas naturales del país para generar empleos dignos y recaudar impuestos.

“Yo pienso personalmente que es un momento propicio para este tipo de propuestas. Colombia aprendió de lo que hizo bien y de lo que hizo mal en términos de regulación del cannabis. Y ahora podemos aplicar estos aprendizajes a la regulación del cannabis de uso adulto. Colombia puede ser proveedora de cannabis de uso adulto para exportación, por costos, clima y geografía, por tener compañías establecidas”, explicó Fajardo en entrevista exclusiva con El Planteo.

Además, al igual que Merchan, resaltó que el proyecto de ley fue presentado por el diputado Gustavo Bolívar y cuenta con el aval de Gustavo Petro, quien está a favor de la legalización del consumo adulto de cannabis. “Colombia será un gran hub y un mercado interno grande de cannabis de uso adulto y yo quisiera ser una plataforma para traer a esos competidores para que participen del mercado y conquistar otros mercados desde aquí; yo lo veo como una simbiosis que genere impuestos y desarrollo económico”, dijo Fajardo.

Vía Benzinga, traducido por El Planteo.

Fotos: Arturo de La Barrera, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons // GUE/NGL, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons // Editadas en Canva por El Planteo.

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Higher Profile: Shannon DeGrooms, Founder, This is Jane Project

As Shannon DeGrooms often shares, it took a gun to her head to try cannabis for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), often referred to as Childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But her story really began with a lineage of trauma, with DeGrooms eventually healing herself with the plant, now helping to heal others—as is so often the case.

She came out to her mom and stepdad late in life, at 27 years of age, at a Chinese restaurant.

“It was our tradition to read the fortunes out loud at the end of the meal, and when it came to my turn, instead of reading my fortune, I said, ‘Mom, I’m dating someone and its a woman!” she shared. “I had dated guys, but never really felt safe with them. I was always falling in love with my girlfriends. After I announced, my mom asked, ‘It says that in your fortune cookie?!’”

DeGrooms founded the This is Jane Project to help other women who may be in the same situation as she, trauma survivors—with women across the female spectrum helped emotionally and physically, with emotional support and a compassionate care program that provides access points to cannabis for those in need.

“After I was helped with the plant, I thought to myself, there must be others like me who need to know,” DeGrooms said. “I needed to challenge the stigma of medicating with cannabis for women and non-binary women. Many of the groups already established offering help are well intended, but have extensive applications that can be triggering, and we get that.”

Courtesy of This is Jane Project

Righting the Wrongs

DeGroom’s own CPTSD began due to childhood sexual abuse by a close family member.

“The person who sexually abused me smoked weed everyday,” she said. “I was told my abuser did these things to me because they were on drugs. So, I grew up thinking if you did drugs you would harm people.”

Born in South Carolina, her mom moved her and siblings to New Jersey when she was 14. That same year, she tried smoking cannabis, but didn’t really enjoy it—blaming peer pressure for the experience.

“It made me feel uncomfortable, but at the time, I didn’t understand what anxiety was,” she said. “When I was 17, I began a life of clubbing in New York City. I found solace in underground nightclubs—realizing now I was re-traumatizing myself by being promiscuous and dancing professionally. I was handed a modeling contract after being picked up off the street, but I chose drugs instead.”

Her clubbing life lasted for 10 years, until she was 27 years old—never doing the work to ease her pain or deal with her trauma, with Ketamine and ecstasy her daily doses, merely numbing the pain.

“Everyone from my school counselor to my therapist tried to help me, but I was too smart for them—or so I thought,” she laughed. “I was prone to fighting and depression, and while the drugs didn’t really help, they helped me cover everything up.”

She gives credit to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) in helping her tap into her inner strength and do away with the drugs.

“I got clean in rehab and stayed clean for 10 years,” she said. “I was Miss NA, indoctrinated. I read all the books, sponsored other women. Being clean was my life and my identity.”

And then, in 2016, she was hit by a car while walking down the street where she lived in Oakland, California, and everything changed.

“I had a few surgeries for different reasons,” she explained. “But the reparative surgery on my nose from doing drugs was botched, leaving me with a super bacterial infection of e coli and klebsiella combined, chronic sinus issues, and no septum. I didn’t recognize myself and I couldn’t leave the house for seven months. Then, the day I was finally able to go out, I was car-jacked.”

The assailant held a Glock pistol to the back of her head, while leading her to the middle of the road. She thought she would die right then and there.

“He took my purse and the car,” she said. “The car was found days later, but the immense trauma that followed kicked up everything I hadn’t dealt with from my past, and then some.”

To add to her trauma, the thief, who still had her keys and her address, came back to her home, tried to take a second car, failed, and ended up vandalizing the car instead.

“In 48 hours I moved to Los Angeles,” she said. “I was suffering when a friend suggested I try cannabis for my PTSD from the incident. I said, no way was I doing drugs again! But I tried it and it opened up a whole new world for me.”

In time, she went up to Humboldt County in Northern California—cannabis capitol of the world—and her friend, Dave Stanley, who farmed cannabis, taught her about the plant and being a farmer.

“I’ve been up several times since, helping with the crops,” she added. “The cultivar Sunset Sherbert changed me. I was awoken, felt productive, and it motivated me to create the This is Jane Project.”

Courtesy of This is Jane Project

Cannabis in Recovery

Her doubts, on the other hand, told her the NA people who had supported her all these years would think she was crazy to add cannabis to her recovery program—and they did, accusing her of “using” again. Even though the plant helped her immensely, she lost many NA friends for this reason.

“I needed to destigmatize the plant, not only for the greater good of so many suffering, but to show people in recovery that the plant could be the right choice for them, as well,” she concluded.

The dominant terpenes in Sunset Sherbert are caryophyllene, limonene, and humulene. Rather than go with the myth of uplifting Sativa or calming Indica, it’s important to look at the terpene profile. That’s where the unique and helpful characteristics of cannabis are found.

Caryophllene has the unique ability to bind with CB2 receptors, relieving anxiety. Limonene is also found in citrus and is said to reduce stress and elevate mood. Humulene is also found in hops, which beer is made from, and has a relaxing effect. It’s also said to boost creativity and calm the mind.

Beneficial plants have fragrance. We are drawn to the plants we need to keep us healthy, happy, and to create homeostasis in our bodies, or a place where illness cannot dwell.

DeGrooms
Courtesy of This is Jane Project

The Revolution is Trauma-Informed

The project began as a photo and messaging campaign for social media, documenting women and their stories, poignantly photographed in stunning black and white—denoting no gray area in this conversation.

Home gatherings became a good vehicle to help on an up-close and personal level, hosted in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, New York, with more cities planned as donations come in. They talk, support each other, share stories, and do art therapy, among other healing modes of therapy.

Women and non-binary people with a lifetime of trauma have come forward, some with intimate partner violence, many with sexual trauma. One woman, who was stabbed 20 times, lifted her shirt during one gathering to show how grateful she was to be alive and for the Janes.

“Survivors seemed to be getting a lot out of the gatherings and the portraits being shared with their stories, but there was little support afterwards, other than the friendships and connections made. We took a hard pause just before the COVID lockdown and decided it clearly needed to be more than a social media campaign.”

After restructuring into a not-for-profit organization, they added compassionate care, with companies donating products to be given in a program named Survivors Without Access.

“We also have free monthly Healing Happy Hours on the fourth Wednesday of each month, with Janes from across the country joining is on Zoom,” she said. “Nurse Heather Manus—who is a trauma survivor herself—also helped with cannabis, spoke to us on Post Traumatic Growth. We’ve had Mindful Movement Yoga seshes, talks on overcoming imposter syndrome, with much more planned.”

“This project has helped many, but it’s also helped me,” she surmised. “I trust myself enough now to stand in my own power to attract the right people into my life. We learn to tell the truth, especially if it makes people uncomfortable—even if your voice is shaking. Our voices and our truth can’t be silenced. In that respect, we are all Janes, and we can all move forward and heal together.”

For more information on This is Jane Project visit https://thisisjaneproject.com/

Follow @thisisjaneproject on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Twitter.

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Honoring the Legacy of Michigan Advocate Zahra Abbas

The cannabis community suffers great losses in the passing of its community members, but today it is with great regret that we report the passing of Michigan cannabis advocate and political activist, Zahra Abbas, who was 35 years old.

The Cannabis Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party for which she held the position of Chair announced her passing on July 28. “Without Zahra the Cannabis Caucus would not be what it is today and the world is a lonelier place without her presence,” the Caucus wrote online. “Our deepest condolences to her family and friends. We know she touched many all across this great state and beyond.”

Abbas was a prominent figure advocating for cannabis as a patient herself, and sought to spread the word about cannabis and its medical benefits. “Zahra was dedicated to teaching the world about the health benefits of cannabis and helping lead the progressive movement action to remedy the catastrophic consequences of the war on drugs,” the post continued. “Zahra was frequently failed by our healthcare system and cannabis prohibition that would at times deny her the only medicine that could bring her seizures under control.”

Detroit’s Metro Times reported on Zahra’s passing, describing an interview they conducted with her in 2017. At the time, she suffered from daily seizures that were not solved through brain surgery or prescription medication—but cannabis was a game changer for her.

“As soon as I started it, within a few days my seizures stopped,” Abbas told Metro Times in 2017. “Before I started looking into it for epilepsy I was very much against marijuana because there was so much misinformation around it. It came to the choice between using that and having another brain surgery to control my seizures. … Turning to cannabis was kind of my last resort.”

She volunteered to gather signatures for the legalization ballot that appeared before voters in 2018, in hopes that others could utilize cannabis just as she did. “I’m doing this because I think more people should have access to cannabis because it helps all people,” she told Metro Times. “It should be everybody’s right to use it,” she added.

But her journey into the cannabis industry had only just begun. Her advocacy grew, and she later became Vice Chair and, later, Chair of the Cannabis Caucus, and also Vice president of the Detroit chapter of Motor City NORML. She had an instrumental role in commuting the sentence of Michael Thompson, a man convicted of a cannabis crime who had survived 60 years in prison.

Fellow advocate Jamie Lowell told Metro Times that at one point, Abbas had to quit cannabis in order to pass a drug test for a new job, but her seizures returned. “She soon had a major seizure and vowed to not quit again for anything,” Lowell said. “After resuming, she was again seizure-free. This was her powerful and amazing testimony.”

Speakers at a rally featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders, which was held in Pontiac, Michigan on July 29, took a moment to honor Abbas’s memory. Rep. Rashida Tlaib called Abbas “an incredible warrior.” “Her heart was full of love for community, and there wasn’t a cause that she did not take on … 100%,” Tlaib said. “She was one of our biggest advocates for health care and access to alternative approaches, including cannabis … and she never gave up the fight. She will be sorely missed. I know that she is with us today.”

Also present was Dr. Abdul El-Sayeda who previously ran for Michigan governor in 2018, whose spoke about Abbas’s selfless dedication to the cause. “She took her pain and she used it to bring people together, to fight for all of the things that she herself was denied, recognizing that it could have been anyone else,” El-Sayeda said. “She took that pain and decided to make the world that much better.”

“Zahra didn’t have very much time, but Zahra put all of herself into the time she had,” he added.

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Bid To Get Legalization Initiative on Missouri Ballot ‘Isn’t Dead’ Yet

Amid growing speculation that activists may have fallen short in their bid to get a cannabis legalization question on this year’s ballot in Missouri, a top official in the state said this week that the outcome is far from sealed.

“I can’t say without any certainty whether it will make it or not. It is in no way certain that they will fail. This isn’t dead,” Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Ashcroft’s office is reviewing hundreds of thousands of signatures submitted by Legal Missouri 2022, the group vying to get the question on this year’s ballot. If it were to pass, the initiative would legalize cannabis for Missouri adults aged 21 and older and establish a state-regulated marijuana market. It would provide a path for individuals in the state previously convicted of nonviolent pot-related offenses to have their records expunged.

But first, it must qualify for the ballot, and to do that, organizers “need signatures from 8% of the registered voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts,” according to the Post-Dispatch. (That amounts to about 170,000 signatures total.)

The Associated Press reported that Legal Missouri “collected nearly twice the required number of signatures by mid-April, and it turned in more than 385,000 signatures” in early May.

But signs of trouble emerged earlier this week. Local television station KFVS reported on Tuesday that organizers had gathered a sufficient number of signatures in four congressional districts, but the count in the other four could come down to the wire.

Ashcroft’s office will make a final call on whether the initiative qualifies by August 9.

In the meantime, those involved with Legal Missouri are holding out hope.

“The Legal Missouri 2022 campaign continues to work to ensure that every valid voter signature is counted properly, and is excited that Missouri voters will soon have their opportunity to decide for themselves,” the group’s campaign manager, John Payne, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Our close review of voter signature totals submitted to the state by counties shows that we have more than enough signatures to qualify our citizens’ initiative for the November general election ballot — and that some counties, due to a reliance on temporary workers, mistakenly rejected thousands of valid voter signatures. To be clear, this is not to suggest or imply any wrongdoing on the part of counties,” Payne continued.

Ashcroft himself did not rule out that possibility.

“There have been times in the past, when we went back and checked, we’ve found enough signatures,” Ashcroft said, as quoted by the Post-Dispatch.

Payne and other supporters of the initiative believe that the state’s previous embrace of medical cannabis, and the subsequent launch of that program, bode well for its chances this November.

In 2018, a large majority of Missouri voters approved an initiative that legalized medical pot for qualifying patients.

“Missourians now have confidence in our state government’s ability to operate a new division of state government that would regulate marijuana,” Legal Missouri says on its website. “The Department of Health and Senior Services has effectively administered the new program and met all guidelines set out by the Missouri Constitution.”

In addition to legalizing marijuana for adults and setting the framework for a regulated market, the initiative would also extend the “amount of time that medical marijuana patient and caregiver ID cards are valid from one to three years while keeping that cost low ($25),” according to Legal Missouri’s website. It would also reduce the $100 fee for patients who grow their own cannabis by 50%.

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Cannabis Play Traces History and Culture

Five years in the making and twice postponed by COVID lockdowns, a cannabis theatrical concert dedicated to celebrating marijuana, and raising consciousness around the plant, has opened in New York City. Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville uses music and projected images as well as dialogue to trace the journey of cannabis from the herblore of ancient India and China through European bohemia, American prohibition, youth counterculture and finally legalization (in many states).

Running through July 31 at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, a venerable venue in Manhattan’s East Village, the show is written by Baba Israel, who serves as MC, with music composed by Grace Galu, who performs on vocals and guitar as the “Sativa Diva.” Israel’s longtime outfit Soul Inscribed serves as the back-up band, and there’s also an ensemble of dancers.

Cannabis History in Music, Word and Image

After a brief passage covering thousands of years, in which cannabis went from the earliest botanical references of the ancient world to being the muse of French poets including Balzac and Baudelaire, the herb crosses the Atlantic to the Americas—woven into the “hair of the enslaved.” This refers to the tradition of African crop seeds—including cannabis—being smuggled onto the slave ships by this means during the Middle Passage. 

The link between marijuana prohibition and racism is emphasized in this cannabis theatrical concert. African American culture nurtured cannabis, as manifested in musical samples such as Fats Waller’s “The Reefer Song” (with its refrain “When you’re a viper,” jazz slang for herb aficionados) and Ella Fitzgerald’s “When I Get Low I Get High.” 

Louis Armstrong’s rendering of “La Cucaracha” speaks to the use of cannabis by Pancho Villa’s troops during the Mexican Revolution. But this meant backlash north of the border, with “marihuana” mixed up in the white mind with subversive Mexican immigrants. Lurid newspaper clips from the period inform us that California criminalized the herb amid such fears in 1913, followed by Texas in 1919. 

And when crusading federal bureaucrat Harry Anslinger launched his successful campaign to criminalize cannabis nationwide in the 1930s, he played to the most blatant and ugly stigmatization of both Mexicans and Blacks—again portrayed in period images.  

But the beatniks were starting to popularize weed among white folks just as the civil rights movement was taking off in the 1950s. And it all came together in the countercultural explosion and youth rebellion of the ’60s, punctuated by Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women” (with its refrain “everybody must get stoned”) and the Beatles’ “(I Get High) With a Little Help from My Friends.” 

This, again, meant a governmental backlash in the War On Drugs and mass incarceration Nixon and Reagan eras. 

The origins of the legalization movement are depicted in the groundbreaking efforts of San Francisco activists Dennis Peron and Mary Jane “Brownie Mary” Rathbun, who provided cannabis to people with HIV/AIDS who needed it to survive, in an open challenge to the authorities. The final generation of the narrative takes us from San Francisco’s 1991 voter initiative to allow medicinal cannabis use in the city to the 2021 law legalizing weed in New York state. The transformation is set to anthems such as Bob Markey’s “Kaya.” 

This chronology is inspired by Martin A. Lee’s 2021 book Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana

After much didacticism, the cannabis theatrical concert has its poignant moments. One uses an improvisatory excursion and expressive dance to depict a war veteran’s journey from PTSD to relief from pot. In another, Israel describes how his mom, Pamela Mayo Israel—a veteran of the pioneering experimental Living Theatre troupe, now suffering from dementia—uses cannabis to overcome confusion and tantrums. She now has a fanbase for video streams of her dancing.  

Confrontational Theater

Grace Galu performs in theatrical cannabis concert.
Grace Galu (center) performs in Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville.

The cannabis theatrical concert, developed through a residency at HERE, the same Lower Manhattan theater that was an incubator for The Vagina Monologues, explicitly aspires to be a vehicle for activism. Each performance ends with a short presentation by a representative of New York’s cannabis community. 

The night I attended, July 20, this was Zulai Romero of the Brooklyn cannabis start-up Muz, who expressed her hope New Yorkers “will support communities of color as the MSOs move in.” This is a reference to the multi-state operators now preparing to swoop on New York’s market. That day also happened to be Grace Galu’s birthday, and there was Manhattan cheesecake to go around at a small afterparty. 

Asked for a few words at the afterparty, Galu said: “Culture, community, celebration! But also, grief, for those who died in prison or during arrest or of illness because they didn’t have access to cannabis—all those who didn’t make it to celebrate legalization.” 

Summing up the spirit of the production, she said: “So, come see a razzle-dazzle play about cannabis. But it’s not frivolous—it’s about the profound consequences both of its use and its prohibition. We think that theater should be somewhat uncomfortable and confronting.”

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EXCLUSIVA: Trabajar en Cannabis en EEUU, Ejecutiva del Sector lo Cuenta Desde Adentro

Nota por Nicolás José Rodríguez publicada originalmente en El Planteo. Más artículos por El Planteo en High Times en Español.

Síguenos en Instagram (@El.Planteo) y Twitter (@ElPlanteo).

En mayo, Leafly, un mercado de cannabis en línea, publicó su sexto Informe Anual de Empleos de Cannabis en asociación con Whitney Economics, una firma líder en consultoría comercial e investigación del sector del cannabis. Según el informe, la industria del cannabis legal vendió en EEUU casi USD 25 mil millones y creó más de 100.000 nuevos empleos en 2021.

En EEUU, el cannabis legal ya generó 428.059 puestos de trabajo. El país tiene tres veces más trabajadores de cannabis que dentistas y Leafly pronostica que, en caso de legalizarse el cannabis en todo el país, el mercado de uso adulto podría crear alrededor de 1,75 millones de empleos.

Contenido relacionado: ENTREVISTA: ¿Cómo Proyecta el Vicepresidente de Honduras Generar 85 mil Puestos de Trabajo con el Cultivo de Cannabis?

El año pasado, la industria legal del cannabis en EEUU creó más de 280 puestos de trabajo por día.

En los mercados donde el cannabis de uso adulto es legal las personas están dejando sus trabajos actuales y se están mudando a la industria del cannabis de uso adulto. Pero, ¿a quiénes emplea la industria? ¿Por qué se están pasando al cannabis? Y, ¿qué posiciones existen?

¿Qué trabajos crea el cannabis de uso adulto?

Karson Humiston, es CEO y fundadora de Vangst, una firma de selección de personal, líder en la industria del cannabis en EEUU. Vangst tiene más de 1300 clientes y acaba de cerrar una serie de financiación por USD 19 millones. “Hay distintos tipos de trabajos en este espacio, en muchas categorías diferentes. Son más de 400.000 personas, que en los próximos cinco años serán un millón”, afirma Humiston desde su oficina en Denver, Colorado.

“Hoy tengo más de 6000 puestos de trabajo abiertos. Son personas que dejaron otras industrias, expertas en cultivo o que trabajan con cannabis ya cosechado, manicurando flores. Es gente que trabajaba en una granja de tomates o pepinos”, explica Karson al paso que disecta la cadena productiva del cannabis para dimensionar mejor su oferta laboral.

“Otra categoría sería las manufacturas, donde convierte el producto en vapeadores, gomitas, lociones, tónicos, etc. Y ahí entran las personas que trabajan en los laboratorios de extracción, los técnicos y científicos en investigación y desarrollo. Y, por supuesto, las personas que empaquetan y envían el producto”, agrega la ejecutiva de Recursos Humanos.

Asimismo, Karson destacó el segmento minorista donde se emplea a conocedores del cannabis que asesoran a los clientes sobre el producto que adquieren. “Al por menor se emplea personal de comercio que trabaja en la tienda minorista, ya sea un gerente, un ‘contable’, seguridad, y budtenders para la venta al público”.

Contenido relacionado: 7 Consejos para Trabajar en la Industria del Cannabis

Además, la ejecutiva señaló la importancia de las empresas auxiliares al cannabis. Es decir, aquellas que proveen de bienes y servicios a las empresas que lo producen. “Ofrecen puestos como marketing, ventas, finanzas, recursos humanos, comunicación y tecnología”, aclaró.

¿Por qué las personas prefieren trabajar en cannabis?

Karson pone a las personas que buscan trabajo en el cannabis en tres categorías ideales. Por un lado, las personas que están orgullosas de trabajar en la industria del cannabis y les apasiona unirse a ella “son personas que buscan generar un cambio reparador en la sociedad”, explica Karson. “Se unen por razones de justicia social. El estado de Nueva York es un ejemplo. El 50% de las licencias se destinarán a pequeños emprendedores que se vieron afectados por la guerra contra las drogas”, explica Karson y agrega que la empresa ya cuenta con un programa de trabajo a tono con la legislación.

“Tenemos un programa de reingreso en el que estamos ayudando a personas que anteriormente estuvieron encarceladas a ingresar a empleos en muchas empresas de cannabis que tienen programas de equidad social”.

Al mismo tiempo, existen personas que se unen por cuestiones de salud y de acceso al cannabis y por razones económicas.

En torno al salario que perciben los trabajadores de la industria, la gerente explicó que los salarios parten de una base, que es el salario mínimo por estado. Aunque, a menudo, las empresas intentan pagar por sobre el salario mínimo para obtener mano de obra calificada que busque asentarse en el rubro.

“Si vas a trabajar en una posición agrícola, no te van a pagar mucho más de lo que ganas por cultivar tomates. Sin embargo, serás parte de una industria próspera que puede acelerar tu trayectoria profesional. Esa es una razón por la que podrías querer mudarte [a donde el cannabis es legal]. Puedes trabajar como trimmer [manicura de flores] durante un año y crecer con el negocio”. Así anticipa Karson el derrotero común de un empleado de cannabis, de “junior”, a supervisor, a manager, etc.

Según la Guía de Salarios 2021 de Vangst, 10.8% de los puestos en la industria corresponden a “especialistas” (técnicos), 19.3% son posiciones “de entrada” y más del 40% corresponden a administración y puestos intermedios. La mayor cantidad de puestos de trabajo en la industria se encuentran en California, Colorado y Michigan, seguidos por Massachusetts y Nevada.

Un gerente de cultivo, responsable de ayudar en la supervisión del cultivo, instalación, propagación, vegetación y floración puede ganar entre USD 50.000 y USD 80.000 al año. Mientras que un horticultor, responsable del mantenimiento y saneamiento de la instalación de cultivo (Harvest Manager o técnico de cultivo) puede llegar a percibir entre USD 40.000 y USD 70.000 al año. Los trimmers son responsables de podar flores a mano de manera eficiente. Generalmente, en el circuito legal, esta es una posición que se paga entre USD 14 y USD 22.50 la hora.

Contenido relacionado: 11 Opciones de Trabajo para Amantes de la Marihuana

Ya en el laboratorio, donde el cannabis se procesa, un director de extracción o director de laboratorio, que supervisa el desarrollo de procesos poscosecha, realiza análisis químicos en base a protocolos de trabajo, puede cobrar entre USD 80.000 y USD 160.000. Un gerente de cumplimiento, responsables de investigar e interpretar el cumplimiento normativo en toda la cadena de suministro de cannabis incluyendo su cultivo, manufactura, y venta al por menor puede ganar entre USD 60.000 y USD 115.000 al año.

Un supervisor de laboratorio, puede llegar a ganar entre USD 50.000 y USD 85.000 al año, mientras que un analista, puede percibir un salario que oscila entre USD 50.000 y USD 120.000 al año. Un técnico de extracción puede ganar entre USD 16 y USD 21 por hora.

Uno de los puestos más interesantes, el de “especialista en comestibles”, que requiere la supervisión de la cocina, la formulación, dosificación y limpieza del equipo de producción, paga entre USD 50.000 y USD 90.000.

Los empaquetadores son principalmente puestos por horas responsable del embalaje preciso de cannabis en recipientes previamente pesados con juntas pre-laminadas. Su salario varía entre USD 14 y USD 20 por hora.

Los budtenders reciben propinas y su salario por hora puede variar entre USD 14 y USD 25 dependiendo de si hace entregas o no. Una persona encargada de un depósito o acopio de cannabis, una posición que combina servicio al cliente, registro, mantenimiento y cumplimiento de pedidos puede cobrar entre USD 17 y USD 19 por hora.

Un despachante de cannabis y agente de servicio al cliente puede cobrar entre USD 15 y USD 18 la hora. Por último, los repartidores de cannabis, budtender móviles, que trabajan para minoristas autorizados a entregar cannabis a domicilio, pueden ganar entre USD 17 y USD 21 por hora más propinas.

¿Cuáles son las principales habilidades requeridas por la industria de uso adulto?

La CEO explicó que, actualmente en EEUU, existe una escasez de mano de obra que trabaje por hora.

“Hay 11 millones de puestos de trabajo abiertos en los EEUU. Por lo tanto, hay una escasez de personal de nivel ‘de entrada’, personas que se dedican a la agricultura y la industria ligera. No tienes que tener ninguna experiencia previa. Solo entrar y capacitarte en la empresa. Es un oficio”, explica Karson.

Contenido relacionado: Por Qué Trabajar en la Industria de la Tecnología Es Maravilloso si te Gusta el Cannabis

“Hay posiciones en cultivo, manufactura de extracciones y concentrados de cannabis y venta al por menor de flores, extracciones y concentrados. No alcanza con una sola habilidad. Por ejemplo, Alexis, quien arregló esta llamada, trabaja para una firma de relaciones públicas de cannabis. Y si tienes experiencia en el comercio minorista, podrías ser budtender, agregó.

—¿Cuál sería el trabajo de un budtender?

—Son personas que administran dispensarios, atienden al público y/o trabajan con la gente que atiende al público. Educan a los clientes sobre el producto y se lo venden. Le informan cómo fue cultivado, procesado, analizado y cuales son sus propiedades terapéuticas, terpenos predominantes, aroma, sabor y métodos recomendados de consumo. Son personas con experiencia en ventas que trabajan en comercios minoristas, que hoy trabajan en un restaurante, por ejemplo. Son personas que pueden hablar con los clientes y decir “Hey, aquí hay un producto que yo les recomendaría”. Esas son algunas de sus funciones principales. Es decir, “Oye, estos son los productos que vamos a vender mañana. Estamos teniendo esta oferta”. Serían las habilidades básicas para trabajar en la venta minorista de cannabis.

Recursos Humanos 420: Regulación y Capacitación

A la hora de dinamizar el crecimiento de una industria en formación, contar con recursos humanos calificados resulta indispensable. Karson entiende que un mercado regulado ayuda a garantizar la generación de empleos decentes y la capacitación constante ayuda a las empresas a mantenerse en el negocio.

“Un ejemplo de lo que no funciona bien es [el estado de] Oklahoma, donde la regulación es muy limitada y existen muchos negocios de cannabis. Es una carrera a la baja, a ver quién vende el cannabis más barato con el menor número de empleados. Hay cannabis de baja calidad, no es rentable y no hay buenos trabajos en comparación con otros estados que tienen un mejor marco regulatorio que permite a las empresas pagar al personal un salario por encima de lo digno. Algunos estados con marco regulatorios sólidos son los que ofrecen los mejores trabajos”.

Karson destacó el trabajo de los departamentos de recursos humanos en el ensamblaje de las personas que hacen a una industria nueva como es el cannabis.

“Hemos visto muchas oportunidades realmente excelentes para que las personas que están en recursos humanos ingresen al cannabis y ayuden a las empresas a crecer en escala. Tienes que tener recursos humanos, tienes que tener quien reclute y entrene a tu fuerza de trabajo”, afirmó.

Contenido relacionado: Seth Rogen Abre las Puertas de su Casa: Cómo Trabaja el Ícono Cannábico

—¿Trabajas con pequeñas empresas, grandes empresas, asociaciones?

—Es una combinación. Trabajamos con cuentas empresariales, que son principalmente operadores multi estatales como Green Thumb Industries y Curaleaf. Pero también trabajamos con operadores de un solo estado, como Copper State, en Arizona. Trabajamos con empresas que están integradas verticalmente, lo que significa que cultivan cannabis, producen y fabrican cannabis y lo venden. Pero también trabajamos con segmentos de la cadena de valor del cannabis y minoristas en tiendas físicas. Trabajamos con Dutchie, que es un sistema de pedidos en línea y punto de venta; y con Leafly, un mercado B2B mayorista con una división de logística de cannabis a domicilio.

The post EXCLUSIVA: Trabajar en Cannabis en EEUU, Ejecutiva del Sector lo Cuenta Desde Adentro appeared first on High Times.

From Prison to the Legal Cannabis Industry: Conbud Creates Opportunities for the Formerly Incarcerated

When New York state lawmakers legalized recreational pot last year, they were intent on including measures that would ensure those negatively impacted by the War on Drugs and members of underserved communities would have a path into the emerging legal cannabis industry. Under these so-called social equity provisions, half of all licenses for marijuana businesses are reserved for women, veterans, minorities, distressed farmers and “individuals who have lived in communities disproportionally impacted” by drug prohibition enforcement policies. In March, New York went a step farther when Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the first 100 licenses for adult-use cannabis retailers would go to those with past convictions for cannabis offenses.

For many cannabis policy reform activists, New York’s progress on social equity is a welcome change from the early days of legalization, which sometimes offered expungement for past convictions but otherwise left victims of the War on Drugs with little hope of getting a stake in the industry. But even with robust equity measures, individuals who have borne the brunt of the drug war, particularly members of Black and Brown communities, still face significant obstacles to gaining a toehold in the legal weed business.

Cannabis Retail Coming to New York

Coss Marte is one of the many entrepreneurs intent on obtaining one of New York’s first 100 licenses for recreational cannabis retailers. After spending six years in prison for selling weed, he meets the requirements set by Hochul and the New York Office of Cannabis Management. Growing up, he was introduced to marijuana at an early age.

Before long, he saw selling drugs as one of the few viable economic opportunities available to him. Well in advance of legalization, Marte got an early start supplying cannabis and other drugs to New Yorkers through the city’s underground industry. But after a brief period of meteoric success, the operation came crashing down when he was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison.

“At 13, I started dealing and from there, it just started escalating,” he explains. “At 19, I was running one of the largest drug delivery services in New York City. I was generating about five million dollars in revenue, doing a delivery service. And I got knocked and everything ended at 23 years old.”

Taking Inspiration from Adversity

Now out of prison, he is well prepared for success in New York’s regulated cannabis industry. But his plans for the industry aren’t limited to finding a path to success for himself. If he is successful in gaining one of the coveted retail licenses, Marte’s plans include offering a path to employment in the cannabis industry for other formerly incarcerated members of the community. It’s a task he is well suited for. When Marte went to prison, it became quickly evident that it was time for reflection and some serious life changes. Finding a career for life after prison was one priority, but he also became aware of a health crisis that required more immediate attention.

“When I went in, doctors told me my cholesterol levels were through the roof, and if I didn’t start eating correctly or dieting, I could probably die of a heart attack,” he says. “So I basically started working out obsessively and I managed to lose over 70 pounds in six months.”

Encouraged by his success, Marte was soon helping others behind bars on their path to fitness. He started a workout program on the prison yard, helping more than 20 fellow inmates lose a combined total of more than 1,000 pounds. Ever the entrepreneur, Marte saw opportunity in the challenges he had overcome and he began making plans for a new enterprise. Once he was released, he started Conbody, a fitness method managed and run by former inmates. Marte founded Conbody with a mission to de-stigmatize the formerly incarcerated community, especially Black and Brown returning citizens, to ease their integration back into society, and work to change the systemic inequity of the criminal justice system.

With Marte’s leadership, Conbody has become a model for creating opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. He has worked with more than 100 formerly incarcerated individuals and is justifiably proud of the group’s 0% recidivism rate. To ensure continued success and be able to create new opportunities at Conbody, he has also had a hand in placing more than 50 trained professionals in positions in New York’s fitness industry. But he hasn’t stopped there. An entirely different project helps people re-entering society from the prison system find employment in the media industry.

“I’ve also started another nonprofit organization called Second Chance Studios, I’m a co-founder there,” he explains. “We’ve been able to hire six people coming out of the prison system. It’s an apprenticeship program. We teach them audio engineering and video production. Half of the graduates in the last graduating class got accepted to work at MTV.”

Courtesy of Conbud

Enter Conbud

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York, Marte has set his sights on a new goal. He has now started Conbud, a company he hopes will obtain one of New York’s first licenses for cannabis retailers. And just like Conbody, his plans include creating opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

“I want to hire people coming out of the system that have been affected by the War on Drugs,” he says.

Like many entrepreneurs trying to forge a path into the cannabis industry, Marte faces challenges raising capital to fund the endeavor and is seeking investors. But with two family members who have been successful in New York City’s bar and restaurant industry as partners, Conbud has already secured one potential retail location in the Bronx and is working on obtaining another in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Regulators hope to have retail sales up and running by the end of the year, so Marte has already begun preparing for the application period to open, with consultants, an accountant, and legal representation already hired and at work.

“I’m jumping on board,” Marte says, clearly eager to keep the process moving ahead. “I have all my paperwork ready, just to make things happen.”

“I’m one of a gazillion people in the state of New York that qualify under this license, so I want to do it right,” he adds. “And I want to make sure, you know, I give back to the people who have been most affected.”

Marte says that regulations limiting him to running three retail weed stores will impact how many jobs he can offer to the formerly incarcerated. But he knows the need is great and encourages cannabis businesses that talk the social equity game to step up and hire individuals who have spent time behind bars due to marijuana prohibition. With his contacts in the community, Marte says he has access to a stream of men and women who fit the bill and are waiting for the chance to put their hard-earned skills to work.

“I also sit on the board of Fortune Society, which is one of the largest criminal justice organizations in the city,” he explains. “They service over seven thousand people a year, coming out of the jail system, the prison system. So, I have great relationships there, where we can get people and individuals working in this space, in this industry.”

The post From Prison to the Legal Cannabis Industry: Conbud Creates Opportunities for the Formerly Incarcerated appeared first on High Times.

From Back to the Land to Burying the Land

The cannabis industry produces tons of waste. From vaporizer cartridges to legally-mandated layers of cannabis packaging, the movement that grew alongside back-to-the-land environmentalists is now buried under a mountain of waste.

According to longtime cannabis activist Chris Conrad, no one talked about waste early on, though they did talk about using minimal packaging made from hemp. “Back then the movement was interconnected with the environmental movement and we never expected waste to be an issue,” he said. He pointed to vaping cartridges as the game changer, adding that “disposables are even worse.”

Compliant Waste Disposal is Critical

California has two main cannabis waste processors, GAIACA Waste Revitalization (GAIACA) and Cannabis Waste Solutions (CWS). Andrew McGinty, CEO of CWS has over 15 years of experience in hazardous waste management, and knew this new industry could use his experience. He founded CWS in late 2018 and began attending cannabis events and hearings in Sacramento. GAIACA was co-founded by CEO Jonathan Lee in 2016 to do two things, “manage cannabis waste in the most compliant manner, and ensure the environment is protected.”

McGinty says Washington operators have sent nearly 2 million pounds of plant waste to landfills since commercial sales of adult-use cannabis began in 2014. The largest volume of waste for both CWS and GAIACA is biomass from cultivation and trimming, which CWS converts into energy to power their operation and GAIACA composts. Other major categories of waste, in order of most to least, are: Rockwool/grow media, soil, packaging waste, debris contaminated with cannabis, and the smallest category is hazardous waste like spent solvents and batteries. CWS has a method to recycle rockwool, which is “a big hurdle.” Coco coir and soil are compostable, and other wastes are rendered and sent to the landfill or hazardous waste facilities for specialized disposal.

“What people don’t realize is that proper waste disposal is the responsibility of the client,” said Lee, “If waste is not managed compliantly, this can be very costly to operators.” Lee brought up the cautionary tale of WellgreensCA, an extractor who illegally dumped their spent solvents. Now, those involved are looking at hefty fines and federal jail time. “Maybe companies save money in the short term, but look at the long term ramifications of illegal dumping,” said Lee, “The risk is so much greater than the reward.” Due to a quirk in California’s original cannabis regulations, all waste had to be rendered unusable and unrecognizable at the premises that generated it, rather than any licensed premises. As a result, both GAIACA and CWS designed custom rendering trucks that can go to any licensed premises to render their waste while cameras record the entire process.

Courtesy of GAIACA

Both companies cite changing market trends as resulting in more waste, specifically cannabis oil extraction, which is used in vapes, topicals, edibles, or dabbing. “We are on the verge of oils being mass produced,” said McGinty, “Companies are running in the tons now.” He pointed to products like the Puffco Peak making dabbing “more accessible” as a reason for increased oil use. GAIACA is seeing a big increase in spent solvents, like ethanol, and contaminated post-extraction biomass. While GAIACA does not incinerate any of their biomass, they do send spent ethanol to energy facilities because destroying it “generates a lot of energy.”

In addition to oil waste, both companies are seeing more vape waste but have methods to recycle vapes and batteries. “The ‘disposables’ are much harder to recycle because batteries are federally regulated, so they need to be entirely disassembled,” said McGinty, adding “I don’t think we should have ‘disposable’ vapes at all.” McGinty agreed that while you can’t prove vape batteries are causing fires at waste facilities, “there has been an increase in fires” at those facilities. He explained that lithium reacts with water, and waste facilities use water to control dust, so if a battery in a puddle is run over it can cause a fire.

A Solution In the Works for Vape Waste

That mountain of waste has grown too large to be ignored, and thanks to the leadership of the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC) and cannabis businesses working with them, there is a solution in the works for vapes.

Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the NSAC, has spent the last 32 years “protecting people and the planet” by reducing the amount of waste generated and finding innovative ways to recycle. Within their first six years, the NSAC successfully got six bills signed into law. Sanborn is no stranger to combative industries, and those wins took years of advocacy and education.

“I relish working with people to solve big problems to make the world better,” said Sanborn, “I don’t relish legislative fights.” Despite that, she has been in an unwilling battle with the tobacco industry over efforts to regulate single-use tobacco waste, which were unsuccessful due to extreme pressure from tobacco lobbyists. Sanborn was a driving force behind SB 54 (Allen), “the strongest [Extended Producer Responsibility] (EPR) bill in the nation,” which was signed into law by Governor Newsom and will reduce “not just plastic but all types of packaging” waste in California. After that major victory, Sanborn hopes “the tobacco industry should be paying very close attention,” and they need to “come to the negotiation table or they will be on the menu.”

In contrast to the tobacco industry, Sanborn says that the majority of cannabis companies have been “great” and “they have been working with us on AB 1894 (L. Rivas).” Specifically, Sanborn has been in talks with some of the largest players in the state including the California Cannabis Industry Association, STIIIZY, Vessel, and GAIACA. Sanborn says we “are working on the bill collaboratively, to ensure no company can advertise or market a cannabis vape as ‘disposable,’ implying it can go in the trash.” It goes further, requiring vapes to be accurately marketed and advertised as “household hazardous waste,” which must be taken to state-permitted disposal facilities. At its core, AB 1894 is a consumer education bill that only changes how cannabis products are advertised and marketed so costs should be minimal for companies. 

Why Sustainability is Good Business

Courtesy of Vessel

James Choe is the CEO of Vessel, a vape company putting sustainability front and center. Choe didn’t mince words, saying there “has been some greenwashing” in the vaping industry. Determined to lead by example, Vessel is actively finding ways to be more sustainable in their product design and packaging. Choe says that while it “pains” him to put their high-end products into simple packaging, they are “moving to a plain box with one color of ink,” because it is easier to recycle and more sustainable. According to Choe, “Most of our business is direct-to-consumer, we already sold them online, we don’t need to sell them again with the packaging.”

One reason cannabis packaging is so voluminous are regulations requiring it be childproof. To minimize packaging waste, Choe says Vessel “got our vape cart certified as childproof, so it doesn’t need extra layers of childproofing.” Unfortunately, many brands are not willing to pay the “extra 10 cents.” Choe highlighted the need to educate consumers as well as companies. Vessel’s digital team surveyed its customer base and found that “65% might not care about the environment.” Vessel is partnered with GAIACA for their Get Recycling Now (GRN) program for battery return through dispensaries and the mail. Choe says that “the day of EPR for cannabis is soon,” and Vessel is trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Sanborn was clear that sustainability is good for businesses. “The young generation vote with their dollars and are aware of companies who mistreat workers or the environment,” she said, “If you’re not catering to them, they will find a brand that caters to them and their worldview.” Sanborn echoed Choe’s warning about greenwashing, “If you are greenwashing and get caught, they will not buy from you again.” Conrad agreed with Sanborn, saying “Solving the waste problem will be a boon to the legal market because people will feel better about the products they are buying.”

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