Cannabis Corner: No Christmas, New Years Hangover For State Cannabis Narratives – It’s Full Steam Ahead

January 9, 2017

“It’s gonna be a while before we see these markets come online” was my response to a friend’s inquiry on Nov. 9, one night after cannabis’ near-sweep of nine ballot initiatives. While the momentum behind the plant was arguably at an all-time high, seasoned cannabis voices took to their soapboxes following Election Night to share their opinions on the outcomes. I wrote before the holiday break that cannabis though leadership opportunities were ripe for the taking, and the news machine was in full force between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Outside of predictions-themed coverage on cannabis and speculation around the Trump Administration, the bar seemed low for cannabis news stories after the holidays. The victory was won, the champagne poured – now let’s go heads down and figure out what this all means internally for a couple months.

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(Image: Business Insider via Politico, Reuters)

Instead, a flurry of state activity in late December and early January led to a busy break for many cannabis journalists. Maine saw a rollercoaster couple weeks post-election: an anti-legalization recount that effectually fizzled, leading to the governor’s sign-off on the ballot initiative, set to be enacted January 30th. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker went the opposite way, postponing the opening of marijuana shops until mid-2018. Florida and Nevada citizens both already have the ability to use medicinal and recreational cannabis, respectively, but as Julia Granowicz of Marijuana Times points out, there’s still no way for people in Nevada to legally obtain the plant. Florida’s MMJ market has some constraints as well. Arkansas is already drafting regulations and forming committees – the list goes on but the bottom line is state governments and cannabis entrepreneurs are moving quickly to set up shop.

PR teams with cannabis clients relevant to these new markets need to have a cohesive strategy in mind and a timeline to implement those ideas. Don’t overlook the importance of local or even hyper-local outreach – the big fish, national media targets are important, but the ability to speak directly to consumers and potential customers will be a crucial part of whether or not your company takes root. An established presence in the media before entrance into these new markets can’t hurt either, as skeptical (and more than likely first-time) cannabis business owners turn to the press for glimpses into your offering and process in other state markets. Whatever your strategy, get it together now – these markets are coming online faster than you may think.

-Grady

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