In 2009 I had no intention of starting a company. I was co-founder of a digital agency that had made a name for itself as Google AdWords came to dominate digital marketing. As things would play out by the end of March I found myself without a job and without any prospects all while the general economy was still recovering from The Great Recession. Boohoo for me.
So I did what I knew and started out on my own launching Confluence Digital. Along the way came I-502 in Washington State and with interest I watched the momentum grow. I’ll be completely honest, as the law came to be the newly legal cannabis market was primarily attractive as a business opportunity. After attending several meetups and starting to learn about the market, I assumed all these businesses would want to work with us – and Canna Ventures was born. Boy was I wrong and about to be humbled.
Having not consumed regularly since I moved from San Diego 20 years prior, I needed to reacquaint myself with cannabis. I had a lot to learn, but learn I did. I read or watched nearly everything I could get my hands on. It was the learning journey from which a change in my thinking developed. Cannabis was no longer the recreational pursuit for me it was in college. During my time away from the plant it had evolved into something more.
As I poured myself into learning about cannabis one element stuck with me the most. Reading and seeing the stories of families that would risk everything, uproot their lives and move to regions where they could legally have access to cannabis as a treatment option. YouTube videos of children often with debilitating epileptic seizures seemingly gain relief in minutes struck a particular nerve.
My own cousin, Arlene, was a mother of soon to be teenagers, a wife and a preschool teacher. She had battled epilepsy since she was young. As the seizures grew worse, the prescribed meds more powerful and equally debilitating, she could no longer work. The meds that were prescribed to help overtook her. Depression set in. And she committed suicide. I don’t know if cannabis would have helped, but I do know it wasn’t an option.
Realizing that our government wastes billions on a failed drug war, much of it against a plant makes my stomach turn. The resulting mass incarcerations feed the prison industrial complex people of color as a convenient byproduct leveraged by conservative agendas. It’s more than injustice, it’s a disgrace. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, over $1 Trillion has been spent fighting the war on drugs in the last 40 years. I can only imagine what benefits our country would have if schools, health care and infrastructure would have received those funds instead of militarizing local police forces.
The rebranding of Confluence Digital and Canna Ventures into the matters. group is a culmination (yes, small ‘m’ and that period). It’s a refocus on priorities we feel are important—on what really matters.
We haven’t put our lives or livelihoods at risk like the original growers and fighters for social justice in the name of cannabis have. We acknowledge we’re able to benefit from the sacrifices made by others. Hopefully we can apply our understanding of consumers, data and marketing to help cannabis companies with a mission to improve the lives of their customers.
As a company we’ll strive for success but not as measured by the social media adulation. Rather it will be the reward and satisfaction that comes from collaborating with other talented people and empowering others to achieve success. Some may not like that we are emphasizing our commitment to the cannabis industry. That’s fine. We won’t hold their prejudices against them. We’ll simply work harder for those with the same commitment to what matters.
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