One of my first experiences in San Francisco after moving to the area was witnessing a black male in front of a Walgreens pull out a blunt as two white police officers walked towards the front door of the store. He then proceeded to light the blunt and started smoking as the two police officers briefly made eye contact with him and proceeded into the Walgreens.
I was left wondering what had just happened… see growing up in South Dakota the local government (and D.A.R.E remember that?) taught me to think of raids, arrests, shame, and other stigmas and negative connotations were to be associated with anything Marijuana related. Suffice to say if someone did this in my home town their immediate future would be in a jail cell and it would be difficult to find a decent job.
A conversation later that day about my experience revealed that Medical Marijuana was legal in California and that the police in the bay area do not care if you smoke. Legal or illegal there is pretty much no park you can’t buy it and no block downtown where you can’t smell it.
Lets put things into perspective
here is some public FBI data on the matter.
“Nearly half (44.3 percent) of federal marijuana inmates are offenders with minimal criminal histories who have not previously served time in prison. Eight-five percent of marijuana offenders did not possess a firearm.
What’s that got to do with Entrepreneurism?
After looking at the data and meeting some of the extremely talented people out here I have two main beliefs I would have you be open minded about.
- People who sell Marijuana are not all “violent criminals” many are simply entrepreneurs on the wrong side of the law. The same thing could have happened to me for running my bitcoin mining company WeMineCoins. There were many times when it looked as though I might end up on the wrong side of the law due to outdated regulations put in place by old people who fail to keep up with what makes sense in the world today. Its happened in the bitcoin space before.
- Many of their customers get thrown in jail and have their life ruined. These are your friends, your children, your family members. These are the people going to school to be doctors, lawyers, business owners, and even people who want to have an art major for reasons unknown to me (humor attempt) that are being expelled from school for non violent outdated crimes.
Just to be clear I’m not suggesting everyone who smokes marijuana is a great innovator what I’m suggesting is that communities that don’t decriminalize marijuana are willingly turning their youth into criminals for no reason and that hurts us all everywhere. Sitting in a jail cell in your city is likely a student that got straight A’s but due to outdated laws and lies saying Marijuana is the gateway drug, bad for your health, makes you dumb, ect that student is robbed of a future absent ridicule.
So I challenge you to think of someone you know that was arrested for simple possession or selling Marijuana and be honest with yourself by asking Do you respect this person? I suspect someone whom you respect will come to mind, someone that you care about.