Young entrepreneurs & the legal marijuana industry

Young entrepreneurs & the legal marijuana industry

Students for Sensible Drug Policy has long held a unique space in the drug policy reform movement: The work that our members do on their campuses and in their states prepares them to be leaders in not only drug policy reform, but also in many intersecting movements. The list of SSDP alumni doing meaningful work in social justice, the liberty movement, direct service harm reduction, and other areas of policy reform is long and impressive.

State-legal marijuana industries have opened another door for post-graduation employment and many of the more visible leaders of that industry cut their teeth while founding SSDP and building their chapters. As they become influential leaders, SSDP alumni ensure the cannabis industry remains deeply connected to its advocacy roots and maintains the values of responsibility, transparency, and social entrepreneurship. Troy Dayton and Kris Krane have become pivotal voices in the national legal marijuana industry; Kris Lotlikar’s market reports are the go-to resource for analysis of the emerging market; SSDPers like Sean Luse, Luke Ramirez, and Josh Kappel are heading up influential businesses; and across the nation alumni are filling out the ranks of entry- and mid-level positions at consulting firms, service providers, law firms, and, yes, legal marijuana providers.

While some used to consider including SSDP membership on a résumé a liability, it’s now well-known that many employers will move SSDPers to top consideration because of the powerful experiences that shape their work ethic and philosophy while in college. Opportunities abound for young alumni seeking internship or employment opportunities. In fact, I get calls every week from nonprofits and small businesses alike looking for rockstar up-and-comers to contribute that special SSDP ethos to their teams.

And in the coming post-prohibition world, there may be no more powerful way to bring science, evidence, and compassion to public health and regulation of drugs — whether alcohol, marijuana, or others — than to have SSDP students and alumni engaged in developing and implementing public campaigns or working in regulated markets. That’s why, earlier this week, I shared information about three open jobs currently available at the Colorado Department of Health’s marijuana division in our Jobs and Opportunities Facebook group.

I’ll be exploring these topics, and the particular challenges for young entrepreneurs, when I moderate the Spotlight on Young Cannabis Industry Leaders panel at the National Cannabis Industry Association‘s Cannabis Business Summit later this month. The panelists include Gracen Hook, owner of Port Hadlock Alternative Clinic in Washington; Murphy Murri with Forefront Healthcare in Denver; and SSDP alumnus Luke Ramirez, owner of Walking Raven in Colorado, employer of many SSDP alumni, and a Sensible Sustainer. This panel will be one of many powerful discussions regarding all aspects of the legal marijuana world to take place at the conference June 24 and 25 in Denver, and the organizers have offered a special 10% discount code to SSDP network members. Just be sure to enter “TDSSDP10” when you register to attend to have the discount applied.

See you in Denver!

Cannabis Business Summit 2014