“I’ve been high since I’m 13,” Justin Hartfield observed, admitting that his résumé includes a stint as a high-school marijuana distributor and a member of a group of website hackers. Now in his 30s, Hartfield is a successful entrepreneur and investor. So what if he’s dealing in the same venues of his childhood passions—marijuana and websites? He says, “Marijuana is not going to be profitable to make in the long term, it’s going to be a dollar a gram. And so someone . . . needs to step in and make it profitable to grow. I’m the best guy to do it.” Hartfield envisions himself as the top leader of a newly legalized industry. Obviously, he has no issue with the ethics of marijuana consumption or distribution. He created Weedmaps.com, the largest directory for California medical-marijuana users
to find accessible doctors and dispensaries, and charges subscribers $295+ per month; his other business through Ghost Group invests in start-up marijuana operations. “I’m doing everything I can in this industry legally that isn’t going to throw me in jail,” he said. So far, the government has kept Hartfield in check. Federally, marijuana is a controlled Schedule 1 narcotic (sharing the class with cocaine and heroin), so he has concentrated on the 20 states (and the District of Columbia) that allow medical marijuana use and, of course, Colorado and Washington where the drug is legal for recreational use. Hartfield hopes recreational marijuana use is legalized everywhere soon. “I care about the least amount of people suffering under prohibition,” he said, “and secondarily the more money I can make.”
12-10. Hartfield is a leader in his industry, and he hopes to sell the most marijuana possible. Meanwhile, a study published by the National Academy of Sciences indicated that New Zealand teenagers who were heavy marijuana smokers lost up to 8 IQ points. Do you think that as a leader Hartfield has a responsibility for the health of his customers?
12-11. How do you think the ethical responsibilities of leaders in this industry compare to those of leaders in, say, the tobacco and alcohol industries?
12-12. Would you take a leadership role in an organization if you had an ethical issue with its product or service? Why or why not?
Sources: Justin Ross Hartfield website, www.justinhartfield.me; B. Weiss, “Thank You for Smoking—
Marijuana,” The Wall Street Journal, March 15–16, 2014, A11; and K. Wagner, “Weedmaps CEO
Justin Hartfield May Soon Be America’s Weed Guy,” Mashable, May 16, 2014, www.mashable