by Rick Thompson/from The Rolling Paper January 2022
It is often said that we should err on the side of caution, when faced with issues where the consequence may be great or the decisions are not obvious and easily read. This is the safe choice; it is the path toward resolution with the smallest likelihood of problems; it is the conservative, less-risky approach to making decisions.
There is a real value in being on the side of caution. Take, for example, the ongoing Viridis Labs recall scandal. The MRA erred on the side of caution: in this case the most cautious approach to public safety. They recalled everything the thought might be dangerous, not just what they could prove to be dangerous. As it turns out the Court of Claims determined that they should have stuck with recalling only those cannabis products where suspicions of product safety were documented.
There is a real danger to defining ‘caution’ as a paralyzing fear of the new. Municipalities all across the state have used the concept of ‘err on the side of caution’ to justify a prohibitionist approach to banning cannabis businesses from their sphere of influence. Lately they’ve been using the same mindset to legitimize crushing caregivers out of existence with overly-restrictive and probably not Constitutional ordinance language. To many in local leadership, the word cannabis is still equivalent to the word drugs.
Caution can be used as a sword, especially in the world of social media. The cry of’ “Caution!” is used to censor cannabis websites, cannabis pages on Facebook, even cannabis-related postings. Pictures of cannabis leaves are still considered adult material on some social platforms. Advocacy groups with non-profit status are still having their pages deleted by various social communication tools.
So, too, the world of regulated cannabis industry. ‘Caution’ is the reason many banks will not allow cannabis industry-related businesses to open accounts. It is the reason they close long-standing and active bank accounts. It is the reason why astronomically high insurance prices are charged when cannabis industry events are held. ‘Caution’ and its lowly brother ‘fear’ are never far from the cannabis industry. Their influence is felt in an immeasurable number of ways.
Caution is a very obvious reason for the slow rollout of the cannabis legalization and normalization movement in America. Caution is sometimes a benefit, and indeed if something seems too good to be true, one SHOULD be cautious when considering that option. There will be someone who wants to buy your idea, or your company, or your skillset. This industry, the regulated one, and the community, the unregulated rest of us, are both full of sharks waiting to snap up the reckless dreamers.
I think we should dream recklessly; we should imagine grandeur; we should envision ourselves in positions of greatness. We should also walk a path toward that vision which is made of equal parts risk and caution. It is tricky, the knowing when to be risky and when to be cautious. Good luck figuring out how to decide which and when, in the coming new year.