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In just six years, the global cannabis industry will be worth $73.6 billion, and the United States will hold the majority of that wealth. Today, Curaleaf Holdings, Canopy Growth, Cronos Group and Tilray — the wealthiest multi-state operators (MSOs) in North America — enjoy a collective market cap of almost $29 billion.

That wealth is the legacy created by the cannabis entrepreneurs who established the demand for weed before marijuana was legal.

Most media depictions of unregulated cannabis operators rely on stereotypes that fail to capture a more nuanced reality.

The neighborhood green thumb who sells weed and other herbs to patients looking for alternative medicine isn't represented by the caricature of a nefarious drug lord prowling in the dark.

The talented businessperson who made some mistakes as a kid, wound up with a criminal record and is now blocked from making a lucrative legal career doesn’t quite line up with the idea of an unmotivated thug.

The preconceived image of a couch-locked stoner doesn’t reflect the nerdy chef who figured out how to make potent and delicious edibles but lacks the thousands of dollars necessary to get a cannabis processing license.

Rather than being regarded as industry trailblazers, legacy cannabis operators have been characterized as criminals too lazy to raise the political and financial capital necessary to enter the legal space. This line of thinking is a racist fantasy. We’re going to break that down and tell you what you can do to set the record straight.