September 1, 2017 | by Staff
Snoop Dogg has always been one of a kind. Uniquely fashioned from his own creative mind, he has always promoted weed for leisure and pleasure. When not on the road, he coaches his children in California youth sports and sees no conflict in that. But, he never shies away from cannabis advocacy.
Snoop (born Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr.) is clever, talented and funny. He presents a broader personality and charismatic energy than his predecessor, Tommy Chong, and Snoop has been doing his thing since 1992. With that said, it’s time to start thinking about who could be the best face for the business of cannabis beyond Snoop and 2017.
Let's face it: No single voice or face is ready to take Snoop’s place. But, several personalities have risen to speak for cannabis in various effective ways.
Few voices are as important as those that can move legislatures to enable cannabis consumption. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) have all served their respective states well through approval of legislation.
You also can’t ignore President Trump’s views on allowing states’ rights to rule on the marijuana issue. But, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will set the tone for progress.
Then there's Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Always vocal, Paul’s voice is more libertarian than conservative. Confident enough to run for president in 2016 and to occasionally criticize President Trump’s behavior, his Senate seniority gives him a voice that commands attention.
Paul attended and spoke at the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo (Denver) in 2014. A longtime champion of states’ rights and smaller government, he's also the first politician to request and accept campaign contributions from the cannabis industry. Also of note is that Senator Paul didn’t hesitate, somewhat dramatically, to criticize Governor Chris Christie’s anti-medical marijuana stance.
Paul is an important voice for cannabis advocacy. Outspoken, clear and independent, he stands to convince his constituency and bring others into the discussion.
Several professional sports players and coaches have admitted to using marijuana. None of them advocate weed for youth, and none deny that it causes negative performance effects. Some argue that the use is prevalent and that union negotiators should address the problem.
Eugene Monroe, former Baltimore Ravens lineman, retired at the ripe old age of 29. He has drawn attention to several decisions. Monroe has challenged the NFL to take more responsibility to cumulative injuries suffered by players over their careers.
He has a personal stake. The Chicago Tribune referenced the Washington Post claim that he “has a share of worth at least 5 percent in Green Thumb Industries (GTI), one of 144 companies seeking a license to grow medical marijuana in Maryland.” Failure to disclose the investment may have cost him his place with the Ravens, but his injuries and surgeries probably hastened his separation. Putting his own money where his mouth is, Eugene Monroe has contributed more than $80,000 to medical marijuana research.
Monroe is fast becoming an assertive advocate for medical marijuana treatment of athletes who have sustained repeated injuries as a better option to addictive and damaging opioid medications.
Any progress towards expansion of legalized and/or decriminalized possession and use of marijuana requires focus and money. As the cannabis economy grows in more states, it'll find its own special interest lobbies. Keeping efforts under fewer umbrellas helps maintain that focus.
Several advocacy groups promote marijuana interests from different perspectives. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) both have specific agendas.
But, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has worked since 1970 to lead and strengthen the dialog on all issues related to marijuana use. It has now expanded to represent international interests.
NORML’s published mission statement “is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.” Their strategy works to educate and persuade the citizenry to move state initiatives and legislatures to act in the interest of marijuana law reform.
Listing marijuana as a prohibited Class-I substance prevents state-sponsored research. Universities and private industries have difficulty finding the funding and authority to conduct the studies necessary to advancement of care.
Israel remains the international leader in cannabis research. It bans possession and use of marijuana, but its much-honored Raphael Mechoulam has led research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he's pushing age 87. He led the teams that synthesized THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and discovered endocannabinoids, but it isn't clear who will lead his work in the future.
No single voice or face commands the same presence, but U.S. interests may follow what comes from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research Established (University of California San Diego). As cannabis taxes roll into California coffers, they will continue the work.
Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals has pursued FDA approvals of its novel approach to therapies. It now has “orphan drug” status on its proprietary THC and CBD cocktail for treatment of aggressive brain tumors (glioblastoma multiforme).
They have also secured recognition of Epidiolex for childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Tuberculosis Sclerosis Complex and Infantile Spasms. Then there's Sativex to treat spasticity. Their success has greased a pipeline for further trials on glioma, schizophrenia and epilepsy. When their profits draw attention, more research will follow.
Dazed and confused, Sean Penn, Matthew McConaughey, Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and more celebrities have endorsed marijuana use. Many celebrities have financial investments in cannabis industries.
Whoopi Goldberg, however, puts a real and memorable face on marijuana interests. The popular and award-winning actress, comedian, writer and TV personality, has doctored with medical marijuana for years.
But, her move to put product into stores will set a path to follow. She began writing a column for the Denver Post in 2016 with a report on her own experience using a vaporizer to combat her severe glaucoma-related headaches.
Since then, she has introduced her own product line called Whoopi & Maya. Her partner, Maya Elisabeth, founded Om Edibles, a seven-time High Times Cannabis Cup winner. Their products target women suffering menstrual pain with cannabis-infused chocolate, tincture, cream and bath salts. The elegantly packaged items show their concern and empathy for their market.
Who could be the best face for the business of cannabis beyond 2017 after Snoop? The reality is that many could take his place, but this isn't a competition. Willie Nelson and the Bob Marley family do their share and offer product lines, too. Still, faces in politics, sports, advocacy, science and celebrity all have voices that can make a monumental difference.
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