Once upon a time our country was a network of small towns, of small business, of people who connected face to face.

Once upon a time small businesses included hardware stores where the shop keep helped you troubleshoot your problems and fished through boxes and bins to find just the right “thing-a-ma-bob” to help you fix your broken lawnmower, window, etc.; grocers had young men carefully pack your produce in paper bags and carry your purchases to your car; shoe store employees measured your feet and slipped the shoes on for you using a shoe horn; pharmacies had a tincture for every ailment.

Today we make our purchases at large stores. Where the city-block once stood with multiple small businesses now stands a large box that you enter to buy everything you need and want and many things you didn’t know you needed and wanted.

Cannabis shop keepers enjoy the benefits (and challenges) of being part of America’s thriving small businesses. You know your customers. You have deep knowledge about your products. Your customers depend on your discretion. You have taken the time and made the effort to develop relationships with your customers and across the industry. What if that went away? What will you do when big cannabis comes knocking? What will it mean for you? Your employees? Your customers? Your community?

Of course you might respond: “That will never happen because “the right” will not allow the federal decriminalization of marijuana in our lifetimes.”

If you live in a right-favoring state or know right-leaning people and you are paying attention you know something about these folks and that is they will do anything for money. They will find a work-around even their most staunchly held beliefs if there is a way to make money. Take the environment for example, Texas and Indiana have the biggest wind farms in the nation.

With so many states passing laws favorable to the cannabis industry, the word is going to get out. When governours get together at their annual meetings, over their corn-fed porterhouses they will share and learn about the swelling coffers of marijuana-legal states. They will hear about roads projects (one of their donors no doubt has a concrete business) and expanded TIFF districts (for luring businesses away from their neighbors). They will smell the money over the creamed spinach and scalloped potatoes and that is the one thing they cannot resist. And before you know it, big cannabis will come knocking.

When a big box entered a south-side Chicago neighborhood, there were 306 near-by businesses. Two years later, 82 of them were shuttered. There was no significant increase to the tax coffers, sales declined in businesses located in adjacent neighborhoods, and wages decreased.

It may be true that big box cannabis will take over a single sector; only one business on the block will change hands, not 82. But the fact is, those who went out of business or sold their business to a big box lost the independence and self-determination that comes with being a small business owner. Only you can answer the query: Would you rather deal with the headaches attendant to owning your own business or would you prefer to work customer-service at a big-box? How do you think your employees would answer? Would they rather work for you or a big corporation?

When big box cannabis enters the marketplace they will come like locus and the era of the shop keep will end. So, small cannabusiness owner, what are you going to do about it? Deny it? Wait for it to happen? Feel secure knowing this inevitability is years off and you will sell-out and retire when it happens? Sure, these are all options. Alternatively, you could fortify your business and stand your ground.