The Perfect Storm by Ata Gonzalez


Just like in the movies where you can see a storm brewing on one side and on the other you can see a ship heading straight to a hell of a ride, that’s the way I saw the cannabis industry born. From my perspective, I saw it all develop and in my opinion, if the “Perfect Storm” would have not occurred, cannabis would still be a black market commodity.

As time begins to pass and the smoke starts to clear, we will look back and know that we lived through this “Perfect Storm.” “Enjoy this Moment” as we continue to live it because we are being witness to a historic era in American History. One can never understand the reasoning of a storm while in the middle of it but when it all passes, clarity sets and the action behind every reaction is understood and always appreciated

Future generations will read books and watch movies about these experiences with the same fascination we have with alcohol prohibition. Stories of the Kennedy’s, Al Capone, bootleggers from every region and Speakeasy’s have a glamour that have given birth to countless books and blockbuster films in Hollywood. Together we have witnessed history by the emergence of a global cannabis industry and we will continue seeing a fast paced pattern of states tumbling to the decriminalization of this plant. One day these experiences will be inked into books and screenplays about today’s biggest players. These stories of triumph and defeat will become folklore and make great stories.

The next generation will be intrigued on how the industry giants developed and where they came from. Those characters who will be portrayed in the movies might all be friends of ours today. In this cannabis marketplace, everyone knows each-other, we have all seen the struggle, the development and the creativity that continues to lead this industry. No matter how fast paced the tumble happens, companies won’t fully develop for decades to come.

If I could describe the events that lead to the explosion and emergence of this marketplace, I would say that it was all caused by a “Perfect Storm.” This disaster was one of the ugliest financial crisis ever to hit the American homeland but it would also be responsible for the awakening of a sleeping giant. Even though the marijuana legalization push began decades ago by the hippie generation, it can be traced back to “Woodstock” in 1969. But there was no political benefit for legalization or decriminalization at the time.

In fact the mentality and political mind-frame that began in those early days was to incarcerate, incarcerate, incarcerate! President Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” in 1971 and incarcerate they did! The introduction of Hemp made clothing, twine, etc… was the first push by Americans to say hey, this stuff can become acceptable to grow. The Zion Coptic Church tried making marijuana part of a legal religion, this was featured in the 2011 Billy Corben documentary “Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja.

Then finally California became the first state to enact protections for medical cannabis patients and their primary caregivers when voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996. But even then and even though many great people had been fighting and pushing for the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis, others were needed. The people who the movement needed to jump in and help push cannabis reform in a national and/or global scale were all busy living the American Dream in a thriving economy. On the political front, the politicians in Washington were no different, they were busy and did not want to touch the subject with a ten foot pole. Then it was all terrorism after 2001…

As the world kept turning, the turbulence of medical marijuana laws kept brewing out west for over a decade. The stage for the “Perfect Storm” was not set until the collapse of our financial markets rocked every American family. Looking back, it was not such a negative, it would make us stronger and it showed the American people can withstand even those great forces that are beyond our control.

But for what seemed like an eternity, you could hear and feel something that had never been experienced by my generation was coming. It was people bracing themselves to loose every dime they had ever earned. This crisis was the true driving force needed to force some of the most creative men and women in the world to begin looking toward the western United States. Like prophecy, necessity is the mother of invention and the father of creativity.

This period of time would become known as the “Great Recession.” The American economy paralyzed in December 2007 and the heads of households (which in many cases would include both husband and wife) found themselves scrambling to reinvent their professions. Families would be displaced looking for jobs, marriages would fail, psychologists and counselors businesses would flourish…

While the American system is based on getting a college education and becoming a professional, most of these professional individuals are never happy practicing their profession. I’ve noticed that every time there is a specific financial speculative boom, professionals who are not necessarily the best business people, want to stop practicing their and become an entrepreneur and part of the boom. Many doctors, lawyers and other college educated people lost money in the “Great Recession” but they quickly went back to their safe haven and continued making paycheck after paycheck.

While the men and women who drive the American economy consist of those who we call businessmen and women. This group of individuals will forever be the risk takers, the men and women who love opulence and are driven by the art of the deal. This is the group of people who are the driving force behind funding innovation, taking risks for inventions and architecting the tallest skyscrapers the world have seen.

This group of people also drive spending… They enjoy the finest things in life and work hard to buy them. The spending this group does, effects the common everyday working class American maintain a salary or hourly job. The economy is a big circle, you make the money, you spend the money and all the classes benefit from a flourishing economy. When spending halts, everything halts. Loss of jobs is very common at every level of the economy.

Many visionaries, leaders of great enterprise and entrepreneurs who are the backbone of the American financial system, employ countless families. They carry a huge burden to make sure that pay checks go out every Friday, they carry the responsibility with great honor to make sure the men and women who work at their businesses and their families all have a plate of food at the dinner table. No matter how high flying you were right before the “Great Recession” hit, there will always be someone doing it a little better, a little bigger.

That’s the great thing about the American financial system, we can get as creative as we want and not only envision our dreams but conceptualize them in stone. I am sure many of you have seen the documentary “Queen of Versailles?” The Queen of Versailles is a 2012 American documentary film that depicts Jackie and David Siegel owners of Westgate Resorts, and their family as they are at the top of their game and are building their private residence that was modeled after the palace of Versailles and called the same… It was one of the largest and most expensive single-family houses in the United States. Then…the film depicts the horrific crisis they faced, as most of us entrepreneurs did too when the U.S. economy declined.

To be continued…