A lot has been going on stateside regarding legalization. Virginia, New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Arizona all announced some level of new or increased legalization in recent months. Mississippi was on this list as well before its supreme court overturned a voter-approved initiative due to a technicality that left no legal way to pass a constitutional ballot initiative in the state. In short, a political failure currently prevents the voters’ will for legalization to occur.
Failed Mississippi politics aside, an overwhelming portion of the American population has shown support for medical and/or adult-use cannabis at some level. This is a far cry from the lack of support in the heyday of D.A.R.E. during my childhood—or the politically prejudiced prohibition years of Richard Nixon and Harry J. Anslinger.
Regardless of the United States’ long-running dedication to prohibition at the federal level, the country still reigns supreme regarding craft and culture surrounding this amazing plant. Any Emerald Cup attendee will tell you it is all about the latest flavors when speaking to their reason for attending the legacy show in northern California. And then there is the cultural side of the coin. Four-twenty, the unofficial holiday for celebrating cannabis, originated in San Rafael, California, a little town just minutes north of San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge. Being a Gen Xer from NorCal, these elements that define the cannabis culture composed my weed worldview…that is, until I segued into the legal cannabis industry in 2013.
The movement beyond our borders
In recent years, I have become more comfortable talking about my four-decade-long relationship with this plant. With every step the country takes toward legalization I find it easier to share stories from my past, including how I self-funded my first year of college with cannabis sales. (The irony there is I was a criminal justice major. Good times.)
My time in the legal space has afforded me the opportunity to tour the world, mostly for trade shows and speaking opportunities. Being a wanderluster at heart, these travels have motivated me to expand my knowledge and have given me a unique perspective on the history of cannabis and how it is used and perceived around the world.
I quickly realized there are a few things that translate in any language: great food, great music, and great bud. From the annual MardiGrass Protestival in Nimbin, Australia, to the Weed Expo in Santiago, Chile, or random rooftops in Tel Aviv, Barcelona, and London, the passion and knowledge translates no matter where you find yourself. It all comes down to good vibes, really. And this is something to which we Americans alone don’t own the rights. It’s something you will find everywhere cannabis is consumed.
What we consider typical stigma here doesn’t apply in all other regions, either. In Hinduism, bhang, a drink that contains cannabis, is believed to cleanse sins and unite one with Shiva. It’s also recognized for medicinal benefits. Rastafarians recognize cannabis as a sacred plant. They see it as the tree of life and incorporate it into “reasoning sessions” during which they lean on the plant for enlightenment. Even Taoism began incorporating cannabis as a “supreme secret essential” in 570 AD.
Those who value the historic lineages associated with cultivars are in the know as to just how far the plant has come. The Thai Sticks strain comes from Thailand, and Hindu Kush comes from the Kush mountain range on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Durban Poison hails from the Durban area of South Africa, and one of my favorite classics, Acapulco Gold, can be sourced back to Mexico. This is just a handful of at least a dozen cultivars sourced from several continents and regions across the world.
History, culture, and craft reflect deep cannabis roots around the globe. Like the roots of a Pando tree, they reach much farther when you look beneath the surface. While the U.S. may feel like the leader, the global movement is far larger. Every region is seeing progress with legalization, albeit at different rates and with different laws.
My point is this: Cannabis is a global movement with wins being gained at a feverish pace. It puts a smile on my face to see American-born brands around the world—everything from Cookies and Humboldt Seed Company to Piecemaker, Mammoth P, and Magical Butter. The movement is real and happening while we sleep.
The global cannabis movement will take us back to a happier time, before prohibition and persecution of a plant that can make the greatest impact on mankind—and we need that now more than ever.
Lance Lambert has spent years cultivating brands and telling stories, primarily in the mainstream digital media and marketing space prior to making the jump to the (legal) cannabis industry in late 2013. In 2021, he planted his knowledge and passion-first attitude at GreenBroz, where he’s tasked with growing the company’s footprint at home and in emerging markets around the globe.