Legalize it: A Joint Effort
BY : BENJI KARMIS
In a time where marijuana is basically illegal across the globe, slow tide shift seems to be occurring, especially in California. Since the legalization of recreational weed in 2018, one of the biggest companies on the forefront of the industry is MedMen, often referred to as the Apple Store of weed. And while MedMen had been open before the legalization of recreational marijuana, the anticipation generated buzz worthy of a new iPhone. Daniel Yi, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at MedMen, recalls that on January 2nd, “there was a line with 400 to 500 people outside our West Hollywood store that would take 4 to 5 hours to get in, excited to get on the news cameras as they went by.”
This change in mentality wasn’t quick, and it’s certainly not unanimous. Marijuana still has certain negative connotations among certain Americans, but public opinion is changing. Yi pointed out that 94% of Americans support medical marijuana, and 64% support recreational use which is on the incline. Yi reminisced about the anti-drug campaigns of the ‘80s. “I remember the Nancy Regan era, ‘just say no,’ ‘this is your brain on drugs,’ but that science doesn’t make sense. People do stupid things [on marijuana], but they don’t die like on alcohol.”
Yi brings up a valid point. Marijuana has already been proven to be safer than alcohol or tobacco (and is even less harmful than sugar), but there’s a lot more in the medical field that MedMen hopes to achieve. Yi argues that marijuana can do what other drugs cannot, like provide safer alternatives to opioids, antidepressants, and other highly addictive drugs. In fact, he mentioned that in some states, marijuana is prescribed in lieu of opioids as a treatment for addiction. But its uses don’t always need to be that extreme. “I don’t need a prescription for Tylenol for a headache,” Yi referenced. “Chronic back pain? Relaxing with friends at a barbeque? Most use it for both.”
But wouldn’t a drug that has so many medical uses be a threat to companies whose drugs have been in circulation for years? Yi doesn’t think so. “We’re not a threat to pharmaceuticals companies. They should embrace medical marijuana. We’re an opportunity,” he began. “We’re not in the pharmaceuticals industry, we’re in the lifestyle wellness industry.”
Yi explained that because of the taboo against Marijuana with federal lawmakers, marijuana remains largely unstudied. This is because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, which the DEA states is, “with no currently accepted medical use and [has] a high potential for abuse.” Schedule 1 drugs (which also include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy), cannot easily be tested for medical purposes, which is something huge drug testing firms with massive amounts of resources available can help with. Yi believes that if they study the components of marijuana, then even more applications can be found for it. This could sway the minds of lawmakers and potentially allow marijuana to be used legally for even more different treatments, which is a wave MedMen is eager to ride. “Once legal, ingenious ideas can take place,” Yi says.
So where will MedMen go? Yi believes that Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana back in 2012 put marijuana in the mainstream, but that California is the real deal. “California was the tipping point for the world,” he says, and MedMen is waiting, with open arms and brightly lit locations conveniently located near you.