Going Green: Exploring the Full Spectrum of Cannabis Industry

February 25, 2016

seedling-1062908_1920Green is my favorite color—and you’d be hard pressed not to appreciate the hue, when after all, it represents so many great things: The environment, money, leafy vegetables, marijuana…

That last one is a more recent appreciation, one that the nation as a whole is just being to come around to embracing, or at the very least, granting their approval. With marijuana being pretty “green” on the legal market—pardon the pun—it’s an exciting time for the industry. In fact, it’s been compared to the early days of the railroad. It’s a newly discovered frontier – mysterious in that it’s unknown exactly where the future will lead, exhilarating in that it might be a risky investment, and wide open for those brave industry pioneers to stake a claim. This, of course, makes the industry an exciting opportunity for PR. As storytellers, the marijuana market is very much a ‘choose your own adventure’ novel —which story do you wish to tell? But in the same respect, if you choose the wrong one, it could end badly.

Taking on a marijuana client presented us with the perfect opportunity to really hit the ground running in this burgeoning industry. Being the No BS, brazen PR firm that we are, we accepted the challenge and signed our first marijuana client – Paper & Leaf, a retail cannabis store on Bainbridge Island.

Here are a few key takeaways we’d like to share since going green.

It’s not marijuana. It’s cannabis.

This was quite possibly the first rule we learned, and a tough habit to break. But be forewarned, to be taken seriously when speaking on the plant to the press or fellow members of the market, the word “marijuana” has the affect of dropping a vulgar curse word into the middle of your sentence. In many ways, the term marijuana has come to represent the plant’s ugly past as an illegal substance. In order to turn a new leaf, it needed a new name—which is where “cannabis” comes in. No one ever got arrested for carrying cannabis on his or her person.

It’s not one story. It’s many.

There isn’t just one story to tell with cannabis, and if you approach it like there is, you’ll run out of steam fast. Cannabis as an industry has many different facets,, and we’ve had the chance to explore many avenues of creativity through our work with Paper & Leaf.

We’ve pitched local press on the shop’s opening, we’ve pitched business press including a placement in Forbes on the unique aspects of owning a cannabis shop, we’ve pitched interior design pubs for the artistic aesthetics and atmosphere on how to make cannabis more approachable and welcoming, and we’ve pitched travel and tourism outlets on the idea that the State now has a new allure drawing in tourists curious about the face of legal retail cannabis. And of course, we’ve hit the cannabis specific pubs because, obviously. The list goes on.

It’s not illegal. But it’s not legal.

A big challenge we have faced alongside our client is that fact that as cannabis may be becoming more and more mainstream in certain areas of the country—it’s legalization is in the minority. There are still those fighting against it, and thus there are still those publications hesitant to support it by giving it space on the page. So while it can be challenging to pitch cannabis stories to the national press, it’s one we gladly accept and continue to tackle. Just like the early railroad engineers—we’re moving full steam ahead.

-Laura

 

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