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Vermont cannabusiness will have to hold off

(BUSINESS NEWS) Vermont cannabusinesses have to wait a little bit longer as the Gov just pushed back on recreational use.

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legal marijuana

Vermont said no

In a blow to marijuana entrepreneurs and legalization advocates, Vermont Governor Phil Scott vetoed a marijuana legalization bill Wednesday.

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Governor Scott provided local media with a thorough explanation of his reasoning to accompany his veto.

His reasons

Notably, he acknowledged the reality that his veto was likely a moot point, given the nationwide, cross-party shift in favor of marijuana legalization that has been clear in the last few election cycles.

The remainder is a detailed and well-reasoned objection, but more than that, a vital read for would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, responsible consumers and indeed pro-legalization commentators like your humble narrator.

Governor Scott’s veto reasoning is a veritable Cliffs Notes for the reasons smart people are still anti-legalization.

Which is awesome, because that means a very smart person who knows how the law works has just provided would-be entrepreneurs and legal consumers alike with a how-to for getting people on board with responsible, profitable cannabusiness.

1. Think of the children!

Governor Scott leads with a cheap shot here, and yeah, it irritates me too. Anybody who’s spent any time dealing with this issue knows that at least as often as that argument constitutes a reasonable objection, it’s deployed to short-circuit a debate by forcing focus onto a single worst-case scenario. Anybody who’s spent any time being younger than 18 – so, everybody, minus American Genius’s much appreciated readership of vat-grown clones – also knows that a case of beer or a handle of vodka is both easier to get and far more likely to kill you than anything you can do with marijuana. Governor Scott is a smart guy who cares about this issue, so I assume he knows that.

He’s making that pitch because it works.

That’s why people use it – because it makes other people genuinely believe the subject is a threat to their children, which is, quite rightly, the end of the argument for any caring parent. That’s a problem entrepreneurs need to address. Marijuana marketing needs to become less about tie-dye and more about “18 and over, please smoke responsibly” before some people will feel safe having it around.

2. Who makes the rules?

This is – dare I say it – fair. Controlled substance regulation in this country is utterly nuts. Your humble narrator was born and raised in a state that has not only dry and wet, but, I swear to Insert Deity Here, moist counties. Kentucky does many things well. Law is not one of them. Responsible lawmakers like Governor Scott have a duty to make sure that kind of nonsense doesn’t happen again, and the legalization and regulation of marijuana is how they intend to discharge that duty.

It’s also a huge opportunity for businesspeople.

Where regulatory bodies exist, third-party input will be vital. Where third-party input is vital, there’s a door to stick your foot in. Nonprofit organizations already represent a major force in marijuana regulation, on both pro- and anti-legalization sides. The latter at least is sure to be represented in regulatory bodies, since to date regulatory bodies have said “ban it. All of it.” If you want a point of view at that table other than that, get yourself a seat. Being part of the regulatory process is cannabusiness’s best chance to cut through the “Reefer Madness” in the name of socially responsible – and profitable – enterprise.

3. What are the numbers

A number of Gov. Scott’s objections come down to a plain fact: the details aren’t done yet. Everything from testable impairment thresholds for automotive offenses to long-term monitoring and reporting protocols for the community impact of legal marijuana is still up in the air. Gov. Scott thinks that’s irresponsible.

Know what? It is.

This is a space where non-government interests in the nonprofit and for-profit field can lead. Nonprofits in particular have decades of data on the impact – or lack thereof – of marijuana on public health. Entrepreneurs can set business standards for boring stuff like THC levels per item and daily sale limits in-house and present them to regulatory boards as a fait accompli.

Legal marijuana is happening

That’s a good thing. But it’s not the last thing. Legal marijuana doesn’t mean we all throw open our shutters on a clear spring morning and start doing profitable, socially responsible cannabusiness. If you’re expecting that, I suspect you’re breaking Biggie’s Rule Four. Never break Biggie’s Rule Four. It means we have to deal with a government that has, to date, had a very simple policy regarding the product in question, and now has to cobble together a very complicated one.

If you don’t do it, they’re gonna.

If you do, though – if non-government interests take responsibility for marijuana and its consequences from day one of legal sales – we may just manage this cannabusiness thing yet.

#marijuana

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Business News

Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess

(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.

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Ageism void

Before the pandemic, age discrimination was prevalent in workplaces. The EEOC reports that in 2018, about 6 out of 10 workers aged 45 years and older say they experience discrimination on the job.

A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.

Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.

Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.

Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.

What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?

It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.

There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.

As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.

Provide accommodations or not?

According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”

Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.

Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.

Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.

Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.

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Business News

Missing office culture while working remotely? This tool tries to recreate it

(BUSINESS NEWS) This startup just released new software to help you reproduce the best parts of in-person office interactions while you work from home.

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Loop Team product page, trying to create an office culture experience remotely.

Are you over working from home? Feeling disconnected from your co-workers? Well look no further: The startup Loop Team just released a tool that reproduces the office culture experience virtually.

“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter,” said Loop Team’s founder and CEO Raj Singh in an interview with TechCrunch. “[W]e built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form.”

Singh’s company, founded pre-COVID, is posed as a solution to feeling “out of the loop” while working remotely. During the pandemic, where virtually all of us are working from home, this technology is needed more than ever.

How it works is by essentially recreating an office experience on a virtual platform. Somewhere between Zoom and Slack with some added features, Loop Team lets you know who’s free to chat, who’s in meetings, and allows you to have private discussions using audio, video, and screen share. It’s ideal for working on projects together.

Loop’s layout is unique in the sense that it is designed to show you conversations in a clear, direct way – exposing relevant items and hiding the rest. Also, employees who miss meetings have the ability to review what they missed, making it perfect for companies that hire across time zones.

The platform was made available December 1st free of charge, but Singh is hoping to introduce a paid version next year. Pricing will likely reflect team size and should remain free for teams of 10 or less.

I’m a big fan of software that allows you to feel closer and more connected to your co-workers. Do I think anything will ever compare to a true, in-person office experience? Definitely not. That being said, I value this kind of progress, especially since I don’t think office culture en mass will make a return any time soon, regardless of vaccinations.

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Business News

What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?

(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.

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DMT

Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”

The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.

Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.

Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.

So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.

It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.

For more reading:

This story was first published here in June, 2019.

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