I’ve been living this chaotic cannabis life for 16 years, but no year has been as crazy and unexpected as 2020. I think that goes for most of us.
When our office staff went home for the last time in March, we had no idea how long it would be before we were all gathered again back at GRAV. We knew they would have to shift the way they work in order to manage the challenges that come with working from home. For others, we recognized that they would have to remain in-person to carry out our essential business functions and continue to serve our individual customers. We did our best to make sure they were appreciated and seen for their incredible commitment. They kept the ship afloat during this storm, and still do. We are eternally grateful for the ways the entire GRAV team showed up during this unprecedented time.
It is because of our team and our customers that we were able to grow our business at a time when many others are closing their doors. We are truly humbled by this, and we do not take it lightly. We also experienced many lows during this time. Several members of our team (including myself) contracted COVID-19, and we had family members of GRAV pass away.
The pandemic took so much from so many of us. But it also gave us a renewed focus on what matters most - the people we care about, and our customers, who we strive to bring joy to each day despite such uncertainty. We have taken this difficult time to invest in people and in our relationships at GRAV - both internally and with our customers. Not only have we grown our team, but we have increased average pay, and made investments in our campus that support our staff.
In 2019, we hired an Inclusion and Equity Coach to ensure we had a culture where our people thrived as themselves. We also wanted to solidify our commitments to social and racial justice and discover new avenues to leverage our relationships and brand. And so when the pandemic hit and racial tensions and conversations were top of mind, we were in a position to confront and grapple with the difficult issues we faced - that our whole nation faced. We led with a mindset of inclusion, raising our voices in the face of disparity and inequity, and joined the Black community in calling for substantive changes to the systems that continue to harm and oppress them.
These are the systems that make it nearly 4 times more likely that a Black person will be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though usage rates are comparable. The truth is that as much as I love this industry, there are racial and social justice elements that we cannot ignore. As more and more states make progress in the cannabis space, we have to demand and ensure equity is part of that progress.
On a personal note, I turned 40 this year. I didn’t get a birthday party because, COVID. But I did a lot of reflecting. It’s strange to realize that this company, this industry, is all I really know. I’ve struggled with that in the past, but now it feels good. The world is finally taking us seriously. Because what we do and how we live our lives is not a crime.
When I made my first bong, there wasn’t a single person who took me seriously. They put people like us in jail for making pipes. Now more than half the US population lives in a place where they can buy legal weed. I hope I get to do this for the rest of my life.
To all of our customers who love us, we love you too. And we promise to stay focused on building products you love, because that’s what we love too. Give us all the feedback. We want it, the bad and the good. Even if it’s not about our products, just tell us what you think.
We’re all in this together. Please stay on the right side of history and demand that cannabis become legal where you live. Because no one should ever be criminalized for a plant.