Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Vital Role of Vetting in the Cannabis Industry


Vetting politicians is the process by which voters, the public, journalists, observers and institutions gather information on candidates for political office. It is an age-old tradition, and occurs in the U.S. and abroad, for nonprofits, businesses, politics, and in government. In theory, the vetting process seeks to inform the public or other decision-makers of a candidate's past. In practice, it often serves to cut through the field of candidates by preventing those with risky or embarrassing pasts from ascending to a higher position, role or public office. Vetting is also the process of performing a background check on someone before offering them employment, conferring an award, etc. A prospective person or project may be vetted before making a hiring decision.

The vital role of vetting is one that has been overlooked for too long in the cannabis industry, especially in state medical cannabis programs.  And this is even more so important for the medical patients, caregivers, and consumers - whose greenbacks fuel the greenrush. As the medical cannabis industry continues to grow, it is also becoming fertile ground for bad operators and scams.

Within the same weekend in New Mexico, we saw two such examples of this occur and this sort of thing is becoming all too common for the state’s medical cannabis community.

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First we had the allegations revealed about the promoter for the Albuquerque Beer and Hemp Fest planned for November 11th of this year in the downtown Civic Plaza. The allegations about the Thompsom’s, owners of Southwest Publishing Marketing Entertainment, the event’s promoter includes; sexually harassing people in the state’s medical cannabis community with nude selfies being sent to people on Facebook and allegations of child abuse and neglect from the ownership’s prior state of residency. At this promoters first event in Las Cruces (NM), 420 Fest, dispensaries and patient advocacy groups all support and sponsored these bad actors, when simple vetting by them would have revealed these dangerous people. The LECUA Patients Coalition of New Mexico put out several public posts warning the patients and community and it was ignored. Also at that time, Kenneth Thompson responded to that boycott by making threats of assault and even came looking for this advocate. Before attending or sponsoring any event - check it out and who is involved with it, don’t just take someone else's word for it - as many of these event promoters and even sponsors pay others in our community to promote it like it’s the greatest thing.

Secondly, we saw something else that is becoming a growing problem for the cannabis industry. As highlighted in the article, “Buyer Beware: Pot College and Canna Consultants” by the great legal minds at Canna Law Blog. If you are considering attending a cannabis “symposium”,  “school” or “conference,” please do your due diligence. This is also on Canna Law Blog’s ‘Top Ten Marijuana Industry Red Flags’ list as, #7 Marijuana airport seminars, consultants, and “colleges.” And thats what we had this past weekend in Albuquerque at the Embassy Suites Hotel, the ‘Medical Cannabis Symposium’ hosted by CannabisNM Staffing and facilitated by New Mexico Empact. This two day event, that claimed to be taught by industry professionals and experts, charged just shy of $320 for two days. Yet some of the people they had listed as experts or industry professionals have only worked in the industry for a mere three years.  And every person who presented at this event was a business owner or person affiliated with a business in the state’s medical cannabis industry industry. The overpriced fee that was charged for this event is just what Canna Law Blog has cautioned us all about, as there are some predators lurking out there in the cannabis waters.

The event also said it would provide those in attendance with a certificate of completion but the ‘classes’ being taught have absolutely zero accreditation in the medical cannabis industry. All these ‘classes’ being taught are done so by those who are making money off of the medical cannabis patient community. A honest description of the event would have told the community it is being taught by business owners and employes. And always take all claims of “expertise” with a healthy helping of salt, particularly in areas where a new business venture was just begun.

The “green rush” for New Mexico has given rise to many people who will do anything to make a name for themselves and a dollar off of you. And it’s only going to get worse as New Mexico continues to debate the possibilities of passing legalized adult use cannabis. And we’re already seeing patients with ancillary business doing this to other patients and consumers in their own community. The vital role of vetting in the medical cannabis industry will reveal those bad actors and dirty players.

This weekend in Portland,  there is a similar event being put on that is making similar claims as the one just held in Albuquerque. The Cannabis Science Conference at the Portland Convention Center, with two day passes going for $299 and the event’s industry experts and professionals include the likes of Dr. Sue Sisley, Tracy Ryan (CannaKids & SavingSophie.org), Curtis Phinney (CNS, LDN, Former Reference Standards Scientist and Scientific Liaison, U.S. Pharmacopeia) and many many more true experts.


If you are a patient, caregiver, or consumer looking to get involved in your community or wish to participate in an event; please do your due diligence and find out all you can about those involved with it. Be it local cannabis advocacy groups, cannabis related nonprofits, ancillary businesses outside of state medical programs regulations, event promoters, cannabis consultants or cannabis related staffing groups putting on airport themed seminars - it’s ok to ask them all questions. And if they don’t want to answer those questions then those red flags should be going up, just like Canna Law Blog mentions.

There are some very basic vetting questions we all should be asking to ensure the purpose and power of the plant maintains it’s integrity, because some people will say they want to heal the world, when really they just want to make a lot of money…
Do they have actual experience, relevant college degrees, etc.from an accredited place? Is it a legally registered as a business in your state? Who are the principals? How many years of cannabis industry and/ or education experience does the staff have?
Who develops the learning content, and what makes them qualified? Are they subject matter experts, professional educators, or both?
Is the learning institution accredited by a reputable cannabis industry organization? Would this training be supported by the state’s medical cannabis advisory board?
Is the learning institution involved in medical cannabis activism?
Are their law classes specific to one state, the whole country, or both?
Do the courses focus on business, medical science, cultivation, law, or all the above? Do they offer the classes that best suit your specific needs?
How accessible are the classes for those who may have a disability? Where are they located, and how easy is it to get there?
Does the training program offer a certification? If so, which organization(s) is that certification backed by?
Does the institution place heavy emphasis on spreading education, or do they seem more interested in getting your money?