Alena Paulus
Ryan Alexander-Tanner

"That's the thing about people who smoke weed," said a friend to me recently. "They are some of the most laid-back, easygoing people I've ever met."

We were talking about how people who have just consumed cannabis behave compared to those who have consumed alcohol. And within the context of that particular comparison, I absolutely agreed.

But recently, I've found the exact opposite to be true. And after conversations with others in the cannabis industry, I'm beginning to rethink my position. Because there is some truly fucked-up behavior going on, and it's not helping anyone.

It wasn't always like this—and by "always," I mean prior to July 1, 2015, when Measure 91 went into effect. Sure, up until then, there were the normal squabbles and ego fits you might expect, but they remained pretty low-key. ("Bro, I grow weed waaaay danker than that trash, bro.") ("Bro, that pound was light by eight grams. Eight grams, bro.") ("I think his weed has bug feces all over it.")

I started to notice a strong uptick in trash talk once dispensaries started selling to adult recreational buyers. No great shock—where there is money to be made, people don't always behave at their best.

But then I started seeing some truly vitriolic postings on social media. People began attacking groups and individuals, in strings of increasingly hate-filled diatribes. The blocking of other profiles started to rise.

A wholesaler I know was asked by a potential client if the trim they carried had been blasted with butane prior to sale, explaining he'd heard from three individuals in Southern Oregon that was the case. The individuals in question had a beef with one of the wholesalers, and had taken to spreading false rumors about their products.

And some other people I've spoken to had experiences so hateful and disturbing that they asked I not share what they endured.

I've been immune, thankfully, until two weekends ago. I was responsible for booking speakers for the main stage at a local hemp conference—"main stage" being a terribly grand way to overstate the 14-inch-high platform pushed into a corner of an Expo Center hall, so near the concessions window that I could hear every order called out. I booked seven speakers for that main stage, with additional speakers booked into the various breakout rooms upstairs.

A "History of Hemp" expert I'd booked contacted me, ranting at some length that she had been mistakenly "relegated" to one of the breakout rooms, and that she demanded to be placed onto the main stage. I explained we wouldn't be able to accommodate her request, as the speakers had all been booked a month ago, but the breakout rooms at past hemp conventions had been standing-room-only events, and I was sure she would be speaking to a packed crowd.

The day before the convention started, I received a text. "I will absolutely be speaking on the main stage," she informed me. "I will do this even if I have to remove whoever is on the stage at 12:30 in order for me to get on the stage. There is no changing my time, and I trump Josh. Josh, that's how it is, and all you need to do now is retreat and say 'Yes ma'am' or not, but it's over. I'm on the main stage, do not fuck any further with me."

The emails that followed were even more profane and unhinged, and again, this was all about a 30-minute talk about hemp. We accommodated her request out of pity, only to have her hit the stage 15 minutes late to speak to a grand total of four people.

I get that the canna industry is taking a toll, with long hours, obscenely high fees, and ill-informed decisions being made by regulators with no real love for the plant. These are stressful days. And while I don't believe we will all be kumbaya cuddle buddies, we have to do better. Threatening each other and trying to destroy each other's businesses doesn't serve anyone's best interests. In case you've forgotten, weed is the ultimate chill-out tool. If we're finding we can't all get along, then let's all get a bong and take a time out.