Originally appeared on leafly.com

I‘ve never been arrested for cannabis, but it was common in the neighborhood where I grew up. A handful of my childhood friends have been arrested on petty cannabis charges, putting them in the embrace of our criminal justice system. Some of them were taken in so often that they came to anticipate each nuance of the criminal justice system—at age 13. They seemed to navigate the system with a patience and understanding I could never comprehend.

One of my friends navigated the system so well that he represented himself in a lawsuit against a local municipality for false imprisonment—and won.

I consider myself a pretty square guy. I went to college in Boston. Went to grad school in Boston. Got a job in corporate Boston after college, and held a few other quasi-corporate positions before going out on my own and becoming an entrepreneur.

My experience has allowed me to understand corporate culture. I know how to navigate a conference room conversation with the same ease that my friends, who were arrested in their teens, exhibited while surviving the criminal justice system.

Today, I’m an equity candidate in Massachusetts’ grand experiment in cannabis economic participation. I’m actively navigating the cannabis licensing space. My corporate training has given me and my business partner somewhat of a leg up when it comes to the strange dynamics and nuances of the process.

Most groups looking to enter the industry hire law firms to help them navigate the painstaking license application process. (Those who can afford it, that is.) My team consist of just two guys, a handful of resources, and information. I imagine other equity applicants are approaching the process with similar limitations.

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