Sometimes it's hard to find the way forward. It can be so well disguised it is near invisible until you see it, then you feel like a putz for not seeing it sooner. Like looking at one of those stupid pictures where if you stare at it long enough, your brain gives up trying to make sense of the madness and reveals something. I could never do those damn pictures. I used to just yell out nouns to get my friends to leave me alone. Unicorn? No. House? No. Boat? No. You get the idea.
But sometimes things are just laying out there in plain view and we can't see them. A lot of people can't see things that are in plain sight. They are busy, or preoccupied with their own issues and they don't see things. Things like hunger.
There are children, in Alaska, who are hungry. It's right there in plain sight, but some people just don't notice. But you did. And you did something about it. The ACBA has been gathering food in Anchorage and the FNSBAMIA running their 3rd annual food drive in Fairbanks. It speaks volume about the kind of people who are part of the Industry that put in the time and effort to make these kinds of events successful. The Fairbanks event is on-going, but I was able to put in an afternoon and assist the ACBA in Anchorage when they delivered 1262 pounds of non-perishable items to the Children's Lunchbox downtown last Friday. So if you're heading into any cannabis retail location, take some canned goods or raman or chili. What it is doesn't matter as long as we keep up the pace, and do some real good in our communities. Nothing will go to waste and these efforts will be on-going.
And now the 900 pound gorilla in the room. Wednesday at 1 pm is the On-Site Consumption hearing (details at alaskamarijuanaindustry.org) and it is going to be critical that we show up in force. This is your chance to show that you are serious about On-Site Consumption and you see the hearing as a critical step forward for the Industry. I think it is really important for people to realize that this could take several different turns, but this is not going to be an opening of the flood gates. Walk then Run. I fully expect On-Site to be a process that takes some time to fully develop. Look at our progress thus far. Speed and plan execution have not been hallmarks. And as near as I can figure out, there seems to be an attitude from the opposition that if On-Site is given a green light on Wednesday, by Friday night there will be as many Cannabis Dens as there are convenience stores between Kotzebue and Ketchikan. And of course all of those will have smoke rolling out every window seal and door jamb 24-hours a day. There are still people who don't understand what is happening, and are terrified. I get it. People don't understand that you can use cannabis as a sleep aid, lip balm, and to make a sport jacket. It's going to be disruptive. To our opponents any movement toward On-Site will result in a swarm of crazed addicts spending hours in cannabis dens-of-iniquity and then driving through town and running over my grandma while she rings the bell for the Salvation Army. Not so fast Pilgrim, my grandma has pretty good reflexes for 87, bless her blue hair. That is not the plan.
Just like regulations and parameters for cultivation and retail, they will have to develop rules for On-Site. It may turn out that the first On-Site regulations benefit customers and tourists who come in with a designated driver to compare and sample strains for purchase, or a tourist just wants a safe place to consume a piece of cookie with a coffee.
How On-Site develops is going to be dependent on the effort WE put in to doing it correctly. But make no mistake we are going to have to put forward a huge amount of time and thought as to how this develops. And it has to be done correctly, we are not going to get a second bite of the apple. But right here, right now, we need to make this single step forward by getting the green light from the MCB to move forward.
Think about what a tourist boom this could turn into. If we are able to develop this into Canna-Tourism responsibly, we could still be building a branch of the tourist industry into the future long after Big Oil has packed their drill bits and headed home in an electric 4 x 4. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build something that could be the model for the rest of the country and our hoser pals too. But we must demonstrate to the powers that be we are ready to approach this the same way we have already built the legal industry in Alaska. We can make this work. We have proven that legal cannabis can be responsibly regulated. We just need to build on that record to show those who still object to us out of fear that we can address their objections and create On-Site consumption to benefit all Alaskans.
See you Wednesday. Don't be late. This could be the most important thing you do during the holidays, right behind the feeding a hungry child thing.