I’ve been in the cannabis industry for about three years now. So much has changed since then, I don’t even know where to begin. When I first entered the cannabis and hemp realm as the marketing director of a cannabis contract manufacturing company, I felt like I was in a little over my head. I had a general understanding as a person that consumed weed and knew a lot about it, but I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole really went on the business end.
My First Day in Cannabis
Two weeks after being hired by a company that had never met me before, I moved out to Colorado and then flew to California to meet my new bosses and work their booth at the New West Summit in San Francisco, which now takes place annually in Oakland. Back then, California was only medicinal. I was able to get my medical card by facetiming a doctor through an application on my phone, although most of the state was still operating guerrilla style, or illegally.
After having my mind completely blown at the conference and feeling totally inspired by the potential of the industry, the company I was working for at that time made me a ton of promises they could not actually keep. I found myself jobless. Now looking back, that situation was very common at that time, especially in California. It was a lesson learned on how quickly things change and how often promises are broken in the cannabis industry.
Listen to John Shute’s latest Anchor podcast here:
Big Changes in Marijuana
Since then, not only has California become recreationally legal, but states that I’ve lived in and never imagined would gain steam and achieve medical status like New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania are taking measures to now become recreational states as well. On a global scale, Canada legalized cannabis nationally and is allowing marijuana companies to trade on the Canadian Stock Exchange (CSE).
These drastic legalization and decriminalization changes taking place around the world are helping end the stigma surrounding cannabis enabling more access to those interested in the benefits of the plant. As the industry evolves at a rapid pace, there’s a lot going on that the cannabis community needs to be aware of.
One of the most critical cannabis industry developments includes Altria’s purchase of the Cronos Group, a Canadian medical and recreational marijuana company. Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, is taking a 45 percent stake in the Toronto company. The move will help it tap into a customer base outside cigarette smokers, as cigarette smoking declines in the U.S. Since the CSE has become cannabis friendly, Alcohol companies, Big Pharma and biotech giants like Monsanto are starting to encroach on the cannabis industry.
What does this mean?
This means that now, more than ever, the cannabis community that has shed blood, sweat, and tears to gain widespread access to the plant, needs to come together and develop a plan to maintain the integrity and regulate ethics within the industry. It doesn’t seem fair that we’ve broken down the walls for the cannabis industry so corporate cannabis can cash in and capitalize, using their resources to exploit and control sacred plant medicine.
Many cannabis brands, especially newer brands, need to consider a long-term strategy in order to compete with resource-rich, corporate cannabis. This is not a problem exclusive to the United States and Canada, either. Cannabis companies worldwide should consider the impact these corporations will have on the plant and our lives.
What can you do to help the cause?
We encourage incorporating community responsibility and educational business/marketing strategies into your cannabis business plan. Supporting the community and educating the masses on the plant and your products will only create a positive awareness around your brand and also help your consumers realize that quality methods and processes are better than quantity production that values profits over the consumer when it comes to cannabis.
If you’d like to learn more about developing community responsibility and educational strategies for your cannabis company, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or look into our newest venture, Cannabis Doing Good, a platform to create opportunities for cannabis and communities to collaborate, to inspire new engagement methods, and to showcase companies doing good for the community, industry and planet.