By MICHAEL C. PATTERSON
If you are like me, you are learning how to make sense of the new world in which we are currently living. We find ourselves in an unprecedented time in history where the entire planet is having to “figure out” how to survive and move forward in this new normal of COVID-19. Rather than be a Debbie Downer” and focus on all the negative aspects of our current situation, I want to look at how our current situation will shape our combined future.
It has demanded that we analyze EVERYTHING in our society to find out what is really important. This virus will continue to affect everyone on the planet for the foreseeable future. We cannot continue to think that what happens in one country, or state, will not affect others. Like it or not, we are all in this together. Money, status, wealth cannot get us out of this situation alone. Isolating from others is not a long-term strategy. Eventually, humanity must have some semblance of cooperation to be able to move forward and survive. One of the by-products of this pandemic is the ability to look at situations differently and the average person being open to thinking differently.
Author Stewart Stafford said, “Perception is nine-tenths of the natural law.” This virus has given us the extraordinary gift of thinking differently. People all over the world are re-evaluating their lives, the choices they make, the career/jobs they have, and the impact their life has on others. So many of us get stuck in the mindset of “that’s just the way it is, and nobody can change it.” Whether it be changing careers, or how the current “system” is structured against the little guy, or many other reasons that put us in this perpetual cycle of feeling “stuck” in life.
Millions of people feel that they cannot change their lives for the better or make a career change due to what others will think or not being able to start over in a new career. COVID-19 is changing all of that. For the first time in history, we will have millions of people moving into new or different careers not because they want to, but because they have to. This huge shift decreases the stigma of starting over in a new career and allows people with no experience in a certain field to be considered by an employer due to a severe shortage of skilled workers.
The world just had a gut check from the Coronavirus. At the same time, here comes the global industry of Cannabis and Hemp. If you are not familiar, cannabis is legal in over 40 countries and hemp is legal in over 50 countries. With perception and attitudes changing about everything now, what better industry to change perception than cannabis and hemp? Both plants have been pummeled with negative propaganda and lies for over 80 years. However, we know that cannabis has many medicinal qualities and hemp can make over 25,000 products which can help save the planet.
In the cannabis industry, everyone comes from somewhere else – my background is from being a healthcare executive, Occupational Therapist and Nursing Home Administrator. No person typically starts out in the cannabis/hemp/CBD industry. They started in finance, illegal cultivation, marketing, home maker, lawyer, nurse, healthcare worker, pharma, and the list goes on and on. Just as the population is willing to see things from a different point of view, the population is willing to learn something new from people they don’t know, in careers they have no experience in.
This lack of knowledge in the cannabis space for new entrants turns a negative into a positive for many reasons. You are willing to learn from others who are younger or older than you, you are willing listen to different opinions and willing to work within a team, and you are willing to trust others – because your ultimate success lies in the success of others within the team.
The benefits of the Cannabis/Hemp plant will save our planet from ourselves. Hemp (less than 0.3 percent THC) makes products including gasoline, polymers, plastics, building materials, medicine, batteries, and so much more. Also, hemp is good for the environment by reducing petroleum plastics, creating renewable and biodegradable plastics, and absorbing CO2 in the atmosphere.
Cannabis as a medicine is revolutionizing global medical treatment of all types of ailments. The 1990s saw the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the human body. Cannabis contains cannabinoids (specific compounds which make up the cannabis plant). This discovery proves that cannabis works with the body’s endocannabinoid system similar to a lock and key system. The body uses cannabis to regulate homeostasis, including decreasing inflammation throughout the body. This decrease in overall body inflammation is another reason that medical cannabis improves many physical conditions and is useful for so many different patients. The acceptance of cannabis is in our DNA, which is one of the reasons no human has died from cannabis in recorded history.
Due to the Coronavirus, there have been many U.S. States and countries that have deemed medical cannabis an essential service. In some cases in the USA, adult use (recreational cannabis) has been deemed an essential service. This creates an invaluable psychological shift in the public view of cannabis as something previously seen as negative, now being deemed positive for society.
To this point, no greater milestone proves this point better than the state of Illinois – population, 13 million. On January 1, 2020, the state became the 11th state in the U.S. to allow adult use cannabis. The state already had legal medical cannabis for many years. In March 2020, the state of Illinois deemed medical and adult use cannabis an essential service and allowed dispensaries to stay open during the pandemic lockdown of the entire state. In less than three months, cannabis went from medical only, to legal adult use, to essential service. This massive shift in thinking will facilitate increased speed of cannabis legalization in other states, at the Federal level and in more countries around the world.
The cannabis/hemp plant and industry has a luring effect on people. When I first started in the industry over 7 years ago, I noticed I was hitting a nerve with people. I would speak the truth about the plant and the industry, how it is going to save humanity from itself, make a positive impact on the world and create a lot of new careers. Of course, many back then didn’t believe me. However, people began coming up to me and telling me they felt as if they were coming to hear me speak because they were drawn to do so. They would all describe this feeling of wanting to be a part of something more meaningful to others and themselves.
What I have learned is that people want to be part of something bigger than themselves. People want purpose in their lives, especially in their jobs and careers. They want to know their effort will be for the greater good, and cannabis/hemp can help lead us there.
The Cannabis/Hemp industries are just getting started on a global level with approximately $15 billion in legal sales in 2019. These industries will revolutionize our lives in so many ways we yet cannot see. They will spark innovation, entrepreneurship, global collaboration, cooperation, and potential unity.
We are at a crossroads. We can come together and bring the planet into new era of unity and compassion. Or we can divide and crumble into fear and division.
Pat Benatar sang, “I believe there comes a time, where everything just falls in line. We live and learn from our mistakes; the deepest cuts are healed by fate.”
One person can make a difference, but all of us together can change the world.
Michael C. Patterson, founder and CEO of U.S. Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research & Development of Melbourne, is a consultant for the development of the medical marijuana industry nationwide and in Florida. He serves as a consultant to Gerson Lehrman Group, New York and helps educate GLG partners on specific investment strategies and public policy regarding Medical Marijuana in the U.S. and Internationally. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org