Cannabis Marketing in Arizona

Is Cannabis Legal in Arizona?

The Grand Canyon State legalized medical cannabis in 2010, but it took over another decade for adult-use recreational cannabis to open up, too, when voters passed Proposition 207 in November 2020. Arizona is one of the newest states in the country to go fully legal, and though sales officially started in January 2021, the dust is far from settled.

Many municipalities are still setting their own rules regarding social equity licenses and standalone recreational dispensaries, while powerful MSOs are setting up shop in one of the Southwest’s hottest markets.

In addition to legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, Arizona allows home cultivation (up to six plants for adult individuals or 12 per household), as long as the cultivation space is such that minors cannot access it and where plants are not publicly visible. A piece of legislation titled A.R.S. § 36-2850 also stipulates that Arizona medical cannabis patients can use cannabis delivery services, which state regulators have yet to open for the recreational market (as of July 2022).

Is it Legal to Market Cannabis in Arizona?

In short, yes. But as in other legal states, there are cannabis advertising rules on how and where brands can reach customers. A.R.S. § 36-2859 section 36-2859 mandates that cannabis businesses must include their name and license number or registration number in all advertisements and cannot facilitate or solicit online sales or listing services of cannabis products. Any unlicensed cannabis businesses or non-cannabis businesses that advertise unregulated cannabis products or services are subject to “a civil penalty of $20,000 per violation to the smart and safe Arizona fund established by section 36-2856.”

Additionally, packaging rules lined out in Section 36-2860 restrict the manufacture or sale of “marijuana products that resemble the form of a human, animal, insect, fruit, toy or cartoon.” The section also bans “products with names that resemble or imitate food or drink brands marketed to children, or otherwise advertise marijuana or marijuana products to children.”

How to Legally Market Cannabis Brands in Arizona

Because Arizona is such a new market, it’s still working out many of the details regarding advertising restrictions for cannabis brands, such as billboards. That gives relative freedom to cannabis brands that operate only within Arizona, though no one can say quite how long that dearth of limitations will last. 

But for MSOs setting up in Arizona, it’s wise to continue adhering to the advertising guidelines common across numerous other legal states—particularly in respect to federal agencies like the FCC. For example, many state cannabis regulations typically have a long list of off-limits advertising channels, from television commercials to radio placements to public print ads at bus stops or the wraps on public transportation.

However, Arizona cannabis companies are permitted to activate marketing strategies on subscription-based, adult-focused media channels with a verified 70% majority of age 21+ users, including websites, print publications, podcasts, print adverts and CCTV spots in venues like bars. 

Cannabis brands are also free to make use of their owned-media content marketing channels such as blogs, websites, white papers and newsletters, as well as opt-in programs like text message lists.

Dispensary Marketing in Arizona

Arizona’s existing cap of 130 dispensary licenses has been expanded slightly since recreational went into effect, including 26 new social-equity licenses granted by lottery from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. 

A large percentage of the total dispensaries in Arizona are run by MSOs based in other states, such as Cresco Labs (Illinois), Curaleaf (Massachusetts), iAnthus Capital (New York) and MedMen (California). Indeed, some MSOs have already tried to influence regulatory decisions that prevent recreational dispensaries from opening in certain municipalities unless they are part of a pre-existing medical cannabis business. 

While dispensaries are limited in some of the marketing strategies other brick-and-mortar businesses might deploy, one thing that retailers can take advantage of is event marketing throughout the year. 

No month is bigger for promotions than April, when Arizona dispensaries roll out a host of events, pop-ups, takeovers and 4/20 marketing specials—it is, after all, eone of the biggest days of the year for cannabis marketing and retail. 

Cannabis Brand Marketing in Arizona

How are Arizona cannabis brands standing apart from MSOs? Many have embraced vertical integration of cultivation, manufacturing and retail to ensure consistent product quality, and are building brands that appeal to largely untapped demographics like women and premium customers. 

A wave of expert ancillary services have emerged, too, including cannabis law firms, accountancies and extraction specialists. But many companies are turning to Arizona’s unique features for inspiration and a truly local approach to good weed.

Sunday Goods, for example, touts sun-grown cannabis that puts one of the Grand Canyon State’s most abundant natural resources to good use. Some capture the flavor of one of the Southwest’s most distinctive plants, like Sublime’s prickly pear edibles or Timeless’s Cactus Chiller vape carts. And Old Pal’s vintage aesthetic evokes a different kind of export: the ’70s cool of Arizonan superstar Stevie Nicks.

Top 10 Cannabis Brands in Arizona

From Scottsdale to Sedona, from Peoria to Phoenix, from Tempe to Tucson, Arizona is full of world-class dispensaries with house cannabis brands and home-grown independent cannabis brands that take pride in the Grand Canyon State’s unique approach to legal weed.

Top 10 Cannabis Brands in Massachusetts

From Uxbridge to Northbridge, Boston to Blackstone, Millbury to Shrewsbury, Leicester to Framingham, there’s no shortage of cannabis brands and dispensaries in Massachusetts several years into legalization.

The Flower Shop

Ahwatukee, Mesa, Phoenix

Sunday Goods

Tempe, Phoenix

Copperstate Farms

Phoenix, Snowflake, Tempe, Sun City, Scottsdale, Peoria

Old Pal

Scottsdale, North Mesa, Gilbert, Bell, Bloom, Phoenix, Sedona, Glendale

Airo

New River, Scottsdale, Mesa, Phoenix, Peoria, Casa Grande, Tucson

Venom Extracts

Casa Grande, Avondale, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Happy Valley, Bell, Glendale, Youngtown, Chandler, Tempe, Harvest

item9labs

Scottsdale, Tucson, Phoenix, Gilbert, Glendale, Youngtown, Peoria, Havasu City, Flagstaff, Mea, Show Low, Green Valley, Avondale, Gudalupe, Casa Grande, Chandler, Cottonwood, Taylor, Apache Junction, Tolleson, Norte Mesa

Nature’s Medicines

Glendale, Happy Valley, Phoenix, Show Low, Tolleson

GivingTree

Phoenix

Harvest Health & Recreation

Avondale, Casa Grande, Chandler, Cottonwood, Glendale, Guadalupe, Lake Havasu, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson

Cannabis Marketing in Massachusetts

Is Cannabis Legal in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts became the first state on the East Coast to legalize recreational cannabis, on December 15, 2016. The 18th state in the country to legalize medical cannabis and the seventh to legalize recreational sales, Massachusetts is part of a burgeoning movement in the Northeast to end prohibition, including cannabis markets that opened earlier in Maine and Vermont. Since Massachusetts legalized adult-use cannabis sales, it’s been joined by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In addition to legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, Massachusetts has also legalized home cultivation of up to six plants for individuals or 12 for an adult household. Lawmakers passed Bill H.2785 190th in 2018 to address the expungement of past cannabis convictions, though as of 2021 only a small percentage of eligible Massachusettsans have earned court approval to clear their records. 

Is it Legal to Market Cannabis in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, as in other legal states, regulatory environments impose strict cannabis advertising rules dictating where and how brands can communicate with the general public. According to a piece of legislation called 223 935 CMR 502.000, CMOs are not allowed to develop logos, signage, brand names, or other collateral that feature “medical symbols, images of marijuana, or related paraphernalia, and colloquial references to cannabis and marijuana that the Commission determines are appealing to persons younger than 21 years old.” 

According to the same piece of legislation, advertisements should also clearly warn consumers that cannabis products are only for adults over the age of 21; that cannabis use may be habit-forming or cause impairment; that adults should keep cannabis products out of the reach of children; that cannabis products are not approved or evaluated by the FDA; that one should not drive or operate machinery while using cannabis products; and that there may be adverse long-term health effects from cannabis, particularly for women who are pregnant or are currently breastfeeding.

Due to federal prohibition, Massachusetts cannabis brands are also forbidden from advertising on FCC-regulated networks including television, the radio, or web browser ads, as well as public advertising spaces that might be viewed by minors, such as billboards, newspapers or on public transportation. Additionally, cannabis brands must include the statement ‘Please Consume Responsibly’ in a conspicuous manner on the face of the advertisement.”

How to Legally Market Cannabis Brands in Massachusetts

Additional Massachusetts regulations limit some of the event marketing opportunities available in other states. For example, Massachusetts cannabis companies can only sponsor events for charities, sports teams or similar organizations if 85% of attendees would be of legal age. 

Merchandising is highly regulated, too. Title 223 935 CMR 502.000 also prohibits “advertising, marketing or branding of MIPs or marijuana products, on clothing, cups, drink holders, apparel accessories, electronic equipment or accessories, sporting equipment, novelty items and similar portable promotional items.”

With that in mind, however, Massachusetts cannabis companies are free to deploy their marketing strategies to subscription-based adults-only media channels with a verified 70% majority of of-age users such as Massroots or the Bleacher Report. Cannabis brands also are free to make use of their owned media and content marketing channels such as blogs, websites, white papers and newsletters, or opt-in programs like text message lists. Earned media through PR efforts, too, is a legal marketing tactic in The Bay State.

Dispensary Marketing in Massachusetts

As of 2021, Massachusetts had over 150 cannabis retailers as well as a handful of delivery services. Dispensary marketing has necessarily trod a narrow line in response to the state’s strict advertising restrictions, focusing on relatively new media channels like podcasts or community engagement, such as sponsorship of adult amateur sports leagues. Generating word of mouth through promotions, attentive customer service and quality cannabis PR are also options for dispensaries that want an edge in an increasingly competitive market.

A marketing and PR firm fluent in cannabis can be a huge asset for Massachusetts dispensaries concerned about advertising compliance, because savvy firms are familiar with the unique limitations CMOs face in this complex industry. They’ll also leverage connections with journalists, editors and other members of the media to land prime earned media placements like gift guides and to craft award-winning PR campaigns.

Cannabis Brand Marketing in Massachusetts

Massachusetts enjoys a unique culture all its own, one that broadcasts a distinct profile even within the broader New England landscape. From its density of universities to its elite sports teams, from its colonial legacy to its present-day proliferation of diverse, international communities and its vibrant environment of LGBTQIA+ pride, there’s a lot here for marketers to champion. Massachusetts cannabis brands, whether dispensaries, producers or ancillary services like legal and accounting firms or software consultancies, savor a rich opportunity to position themselves with Bay State values. 

For example, Grasslands client Nimbus Vapor Company incorporates Boston slang like “wicked” and “pissah” into its marketing copy and celebrates the city’s gritty, brash sense of humor. Massachusetts dispensary Berkshire Roots gets its name from one of the state’s most beloved and dramatic natural landscapes, the Berkshires. General George S. Patton’s horse farm in Hamilton, Massachusetts serves as the inspiration behind Green Meadows. And former motocross racer Joe Villatico’s Greatest Hits Cannabis Company, another Grasslands client, is revitalizing the state’s 19th textile and paper mills into cultivation spaces for the cannabis industry.

Top 10 Cannabis Brands in Massachusetts

From Uxbridge to Northbridge, Boston to Blackstone, Millbury to Shrewsbury, Leicester to Framingham, there’s no shortage of cannabis brands and dispensaries in Massachusetts several years into legalization.

253 Farmacy

Turners Falls

Curaleaf

Oxford, Hanover, Ware, Provincetown, Wells, South 

Fernway

Douglas, Uxbridge, Northbridge, Blackstone, Webster, Hopedale, Millbury, Franklin, Worcester, Shrewsbury, Southbridge, Plainville, Leicester, West Boylston, Sturbridge, Framingham

Garden Remedies

Melrose, Marlborough, Newton

Greatest Hits Cannabis Company

Dudley, Lynn and Taunton

Nature’s Remedy

Millbury, Tyngsboro

New England Treatment Access

Franklin, Northampton, Brookline

Nimbus

Cambridge

Pure Oasis

Boston

Theory Wellness

Boston, Great Barrington, Chicopee, Bridgewater

 

Checking In On the Cannabis Industry in 2022

The cannabis industry has continued to grow nationwide at a steady clip, in both economic scale and cultural clout. But the picture can look quite varied from state to state and country to country, given the wide variation in market maturities and regulatory details.

Getting a practical snapshot of the current state of the cannabis industry requires not just the latest data, but also a certain level of intuition and nuance. So where are we at in 2022? This is the latest.

North American Cannabis Is Heating Up

At the end of 2021, the North American legal cannabis market was estimated to be worth $15.2 billion, or about 74% of the overall global market. It’s estimated to more than double in size over the next six years, with projections suggesting the market could be worth $38.2 billion by 2028. 

Increasing awareness of and access to CBD products helped drive market growth in 2021, a trend sure to continue as cannabis and the wellness industry continue to overlap. But other hemp-based, THC-free products like Delta-8 have also experienced a meteoric rise, particularly in prohibition states where hemp-derived alternatives to recreational or medical marijuana can slot through legal loopholes.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on which states could join the legal market next. New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut, and New Mexico all ended prohibition in 2021. Rhode Island made the leap to legal in May of 2022. This year could also see Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Mississippi either legalizing, opening formerly medical-only markets to recreational, or advancing advocacy efforts. All of this legalization effervescence is ushering in even more localized marketing for dispensaries and cannabis brands eager to distinguish, say, Massachusetts strains from California flower, or to connect Florida’s unique landscape to different cannabis flavors and effects.

Roadblocks Remain for US Cannabis Companies 

The state-by-state legalization momentum is also opening up increased discussion about interstate commerce in post-prohibition regions with multiple adjacent legal states, like New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the West Coast. The feasibility of out-of-state imports and exports hinges in large part on federal law, not only in regards to the DEA but also financial policy. 

Expect the SAFE Banking Act, which would give cannabis companies access to electronic banking networks and reduce the burden of cash-only operations, to continue to be a hot topic throughout 2022, after it stalled in the Senate in 2021. Discourse about SAFE and other aspects of the friction between legal states and federal prohibition will likely heat up as midterm elections approach, too.

Meanwhile, the national supply chain represents another factor that has impacted the cannabis industry over the past couple years, and which will continue to influence how companies structure themselves and agitate for interstate commerce. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the cannabis industry as much as any other industry struggling to get key components from Point A to Point B, whether it’s the plastic for pre-roll tubes or cannabis flower itself. 

That pain point is contributing to the vertical integration trend, which gives cannabis companies more control over their total supply chain—at least in states where vertical integration is permitted. Expect to see more legal maneuvering as cannabis companies chafe against different states’ supply chain regulations, whether they prefer stand-alone licensing or vertical integration as a response to shifting market conditions.

The Cannabis Industry Is Truly Going Global

Just two years ago, the global cannabis market was worth a whopping $20.47 billion—and that was before continued legalization efforts and the COVID-19 pandemic boosted legal markets worldwide to even greater heights. Fortune Business Insights estimates that the international cannabis market will “grow from $28.266 billion in 2021 to $197.74 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 32.04% in the forecast period, 2021-2028.” But where is that global growth taking place?

In late 2021 it was big news that Germany put legal cannabis on the table. It’s not clear what Germany’s timeline is for joining the United States, Uruguay, Canada and Malta as some of the most populous countries worldwide to end prohibition. But it’s certainly heated up conversations about the multinational future of the cannabis market and how big the largest cannabis companies could scale. 

Elsewhere in Europe, Switzerland and the Netherlands are testing out what legal cannabis could look like in their countries, as are Luxembourg and Macedonia. “If countries like Luxembourg and Germany move forward, it could mean more” momentum for legalized cannabis in Europe, Grasslands client Laura Bianchi, founding partner of national cannabis law firm Bianchi & Brandt, told Benzinga. Meanwhile, cannabis continues to gain strength in South and Central America, where medical and recreational markets are expanding in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Panama and Colombia. 

Expect to See More International Exports and M+A

Low production costs and progressive regulations like those that have allowed Uruguay’s consumption lounges to flourish have helped change cannabis culture across South America. And legislation like Colombia’s decision to permit cannabis exports suggests South and Central America could become major players in the burgeoning global cannabis scene. Indeed, some South American cannabis companies are already making big international moves, like the announcement in late 2021 that Colombian firm Flora Growth would be purchasing the California-based Vessel Brand vape company. 

Flora Growth isn’t the only company to take the consolidation trend that heated up in 2021 to a global scale. Ireland’s Jazz Pharmaceuticals purchased the UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals in a major medical cannabis acquisition last year. Late in 2021, Canada’s Tilray made a move signaling it might be gearing up to make a bid for the US-based MedMen Enterprises when it purchased MedMen’s debt—though that’s a long-term play that depends on the fate of federal legalization in the US.

Want to learn more about trends in the cannabis industry? Read 10 Predictions for Cannabis Marketing Trends and Industry Evolution in 2022 or The Ultimate 2022 Cannabis Industry Roundup.

Why Marketing Automation is A Win for Cannabis Companies

Old-school automated email marketing flooded inboxes with irrelevant sales pitches. But with today’s sophisticated marketing automation, brands instead now send customized happy birthday wishes and news about sales of favorite pre-rolls to customers. The transformation of email marketing and automation has made it an extremely valuable branch of marketing, one powerful for businesses of all types and sizes—but especially for cannabis brands. 

Other avenues for cannabis marketing continue to face significant challenges. With Google’s tight grip on cannabis language restrictions, for example, effective brand promotion may seem impossible. For everybody involved with cannabis marketing, the sinking feeling of a disapproved Google ad is far too familiar. At the same time, it’s just as frustrating watching social media posts get blocked and shadowbanned or even worse—losing entire accounts due to inadvertent violations of the platform’s community guidelines. 

When marketers control single messages that land directly in audience inboxes, however, they say goodbye to the harsh—and unpredictable—restrictions of other major outlets. 

What is Marketing Automation? 

Contemporary email automation invites brands to connect on auto-pilot with audiences, while incorporating personal touches into each communication. In essence, automation targets specific messaging to customers based on their brand interactions. With the right platform and strategy, brands can build systems and processes that automatically react to key actions and activities from potential customers. While planning and executing automation campaigns requires the savvy and expertise of seasoned marketing professionals, once it gets started the tedious manual work is less intense than in the past.

 Marketing automation tactics and technologies might include:

  • Chatbots
  • Welcome email upon subscription
  • Birthday discounts or email acknowledgements
  • Reminder emails to reinforce purchase cadence
  • VIP offers and loyalty rewards
  • Re-engagement offers triggered after a period of inaction
  • Surveys and feedback requests
  • Back-in-stock announcements
  • Review and testimonial requests
  • Product launch e-blasts
  • Shopping cart reminders
  • Event invitations
  • Price drop announcements
  • Lead prioritization, scoring and management
  • Inbound marketing support

The expansion of affordable and powerful automation tools by tech companies stands as a welcome development for email marketers. No longer is savvy email automation reserved just for big enterprises. Today, cannabis businesses of any scale use automation to amplify their B2B or B2C outreach. In fact, the simplest automated marketing efforts often have the biggest impact, especially for highly-regulated industries like cannabis.

Marketing Automation for Cannabis Brands

In an industry filled with fluctuating costs and unpredictable margins, pinpointing exact returns on marketing expenditures is especially important. Where evaluating effectiveness in the past involved a lot of guesswork, now marketing efforts aimed at turning leads into customers can be quantifiably measured by tracking automated, digital and in-person marketing campaigns. From hosting an event to sending out drip campaigns or distributing samples to high-scoring leads, brands today can monitor progress from start to finish with a dollar amount guiding future marketing efforts. 

Marketing automation also allows brands to control the way they show up in front of customers. While PR is an incredibly powerful tool for crafting brand awareness, building media relationships and broadcasting brand stories, it does not operate in a vacuum. Marketing and PR efforts should be combined with automation to create a more integrated, holistic approach that generates big results. 

The Segment of One

By utilizing first party cookies, for example, brands gather data from audiences about their interests and product engagement, both of which allow companies to target customers with specific messaging strategies. Whether launching an award-winning campaign or offering details about a new product, automatically segmented email lists often serve as the best place to share announcements. All of this targeted marketing allows teams to work toward the marketer’s dream: the Segment of One

Segment-of-one marketing tailors marketing efforts to single potential customers by tracking their activities and preferences through their behaviors. With tools like personalization tokens, merge fields, dynamic email content, time-based emails and cart abandonment triggers, the opportunity to get in front of customers at the right place and time becomes exponentially more attainable. 

As segment-of-one marketing narratives boost messaging relevance, so does the importance of having the proper technologies in brand toolkits. The work behind the scenes is far from automated—it takes skilled marketers to understand segment-of-one tools and how to leverage them for potent marketing campaigns. But the days of requiring hands-on, and expensive, attention to every step of a campaign is a thing of that past. 

This is valuable news for all companies, including start-ups. But in the realm of cannabis, where other marketing platforms and strategies are fraught with challenges, it is especially welcome.

Cannabis Marketing in Michigan

The Wolverine State was the 10th in the country to legalize recreational cannabis, with the market opening on December 1, 2019. Michigan had previously legalized medical cannabis in 2008, though it wasn’t until 2016 that medical dispensaries were able to operate fully above board. Detroit, the largest metro in the state, only just approved recreational cannabis sales in the city in April of 2022, however. As Michigan’s legal cannabis market continues to unfurl, dispensaries and producers alike are finding new opportunities for growth.

Is Cannabis Legal in Michigan?

In addition to legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, Michigan has also legalized home cultivation of up to 12 plants, while medical marijuana cardholders and/or caregivers can possess up to 72 plants. A piece of legislation titled MCL 780.621e(2) also stipulates that as of January 1, 2020 Michiganders with misdemeanor cannabis convictions on their records can file for expungement with the prosecution office that was originally involved in their case.

Is it Legal to Market Cannabis in Michigan?

In short, yes. But as in other legal states, there are cannabis advertising rules on how and where brands can reach customers. Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) and Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA), specifically stipulate that Michigan cannabis brands cannot target anyone underage, such as with the use of cartoon imagery, nor can they advertise on FCC-regulated networks including television, the radio, or web browser ads. Also off-limits are any public advertising spaces that might be viewed by minors, such as billboards, newspapers or on public transportation. 

It’s important for leadership and marketing professionals to know that advertising rules for medical and recreational retail locations are different, too. For example, Michigan does not allow medical cannabis provisioning centers to refer to themselves as dispensaries in either branding or advertising collateral. 

How to Legally Market Cannabis Brands in Michigan

Cannabis companies may have a long list of off-limits advertising channels, but they are free to apply marketing strategies to subscription-based adults-only media channels with a verified 70% majority of of-age users, including webpages and print publications. Cannabis brands are also free to make use of their owned media and content marketing channels such as blogs, websites, white papers and newsletters or opt-in programs like text message lists.

There are also clear guidelines set on not only where advertisers can display their campaigns, but what marketing collateral should include in order to stay compliant. The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act states that cannabis products advertised to adult audiences must include a warning label that reads “For use by individuals 21 years of age or older only. Keep out of reach of children. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.”

Dispensary Marketing in Michigan

Michigan boasts 260 recreational retail outlets and 410 medical cannabis provisioning centers as of 2021, with numbers continuing to climb as new Detroit cannabis businesses open their doors. As competition heats up, more and more retailers are turning to dispensary marketing to reach new customers and solidify their brand recognition. That’s especially true in townships that embraced legal cannabis early on like Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Flint. It’s also true in Michigan’s many college towns, from Ann Arbor to Kalamazoo.

While dispensaries are limited in some of the marketing strategies other brick-and-mortar businesses might deploy, one thing that cannabis brands can take advantage of is event marketing throughout the year. No month is bigger for promotions, however, than April as dispensaries jockey for position ahead of 4/20, one of the biggest days of the year for cannabis marketing and retail.

Cannabis Brand Marketing in Michigan

How are Michigan cannabis brands distinguishing themselves? The Mitten State is full of cannabis companies ranging from edibles producers and cultivars to testing labs and ancillary services. Many are leaning into Michigan’s unique Midwestern culture, ice-carved landscape and close-knit sense of community. 

Glacier Cannabis, for example, offers up strains like Cold Snap and Frosty Michigan. Northern Light Cannabis Company in northern Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is not only named for the aurora borealis but also has close ties to the Bay Mills Indian Community. And North Coast Joint Ventures, which has several dispensaries throughout the state, is a nod to the Great Lakes that define so much of the Upper Midwest’s outdoor recreation and agriculture.

Top 10 Cannabis Brands in Michigan

From Burr Oak to Big Rapids, from Lansing to Iron Mountain, from Grand Rapids to Sault Ste. Marie, from the UP to the Soo there’s no shortage of cannabis brands and dispensaries in Michigan.

SkyMint

Ann Arbor, Bay City, Big Rapids, Coldwater, East Lansing, Flint, Hazel Park, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon, Nunica, Portage, Saginaw, White Cloud

Pincanna

Kalkaska, East Lansing, Kalamazoo

The Green Door

Allegan, Baldwin, Bangor, Burr Oak, Pleasant Plains, Watervlit

High Profile

Ann Arbor, Buchanan, Grand Rapids, Grant, Kalamazoo, Muskegon

Enjoy Pleasantrees

Hamtramck, East Lansing, Lincoln Park, Houghton Lake, Mount Clemens

Lume

Cadillac, Evart, Honor, Kalkaska, Big Rapids, Mt. Pleasant, Cedar Springs, Gaylord, Bear Creek, Petoskey, Bay City, Saginaw, Lowell, Cheboygan, Owosso, Mackinaw City, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Sault Ste. Marie, Walled Lake, Southfield, Adrian, Coldwater, Petersburg, Manistique, Monroe, Christmas, Escanaba, Negaunee, Iron Mountain, Houghton, 

3 Fifteen Cannabis

Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Morenci, Camden

Pure Options

Frandor, Lansing, Mt. Pleasant, Muskegon

Exclusive

Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon

Cloud Cannabis

Ann Arbor, Muskegon, Traverse City, Utica, Detroit, Gaylord, New Baltimore, Kalamazoo, Big Rapids

Cannabis Marketing in New Mexico

Is Cannabis Legal in New Mexico?

It was no April Fools’ Day joke when New Mexico’s legal cannabis market opened on April 1, 2022, just ahead of 4/20, one of the industry’s biggest retail days in the calendar year. The 12th state to legalize medical cannabis and the 18th to legalize recreational sales, New Mexico is part of a swell of Southwestern states ending prohibition to varying extents, including Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. And so far, legalization is a move that’s really paid off—the state made $4.5 million just in its opening weekend. 

In addition to legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, New Mexico has also legalized home cultivation of up to 12 plants. Senate Bill 2, separate from the House Bill that legislated adult-use sales, addresses the expungement of past cannabis convictions. Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans are now eligible for their sentences to be dismissed and/or records cleared. 

Is it Legal to Market Cannabis in New Mexico?

In short, yes. But as in other legal states, there are cannabis advertising rules on how and where brands can reach customers. New Mexico’s HB 2 Cannabis Regulation Act, signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in April of 2021, specifically stipulated that New Mexico’s regulators would create limitations on advertising in accordance with industry standards.

As in other legal states, New Mexico cannabis brands cannot target anyone underage, such as with the use of cartoon imagery, nor can they advertise on FCC-regulated networks including television, the radio, or web browser ads. Also off-limits are any public advertising spaces that might be viewed by minors, such as billboards, newspapers or on public transportation. 

How to Legally Market Cannabis Brands in New Mexico

Cannabis companies may have a long list of off-limits advertising channels, but they are free to apply marketing strategies to subscription-based adults-only media channels with a verified 70% majority of of-age users such as Massroots or the Bleacher Report. Cannabis brands are also free to make use of their owned media and content marketing channels such as blogs, websites, white papers and newsletters or opt-in programs like text message lists.

Regulators also set clear guidelines for where advertisers can display their campaigns, and what marketing collateral should include in order to stay compliant. A piece of legislation known as N.M. Code R. § 16.8.3.8 states that “any advertising or marketing materials created for viewing by the public shall include the statement ‘Please Consume Responsibly’ in a conspicuous manner on the face of the advertisement.” 

According to the same piece of legislation, advertisements should also clearly warn consumers that cannabis products are only for adults over the age of 21, and should be kept out of reach of children; that cannabis products are not approved or evaluated by the FDA; that one should not drive or operate machinery while using cannabis products; and that there may be adverse long-term health effects from cannabis, particularly for women who are pregnant or currently breastfeeding.

Dispensary Marketing in New Mexico

The New Mexico market may be one of the newest in the United States, but the state opened its cannabis market with 118 medical and adult-use dispensaries ready to serve customers. That’s considerably more competition than other newly legal states have seen on their first day of operation. Other Southwestern states like Nevada and Arizona each supported less than a hundred dispensaries waiting for the green light when their markets opened. Dispensary marketing in the Land of Enchantment is no doubt already heating up along with the spring weather.

Dispensaries and cannabis producers can also take advantage of event marketing throughout the year. When New Mexico dispensaries began selling to customers in April, dispensary marketing in the Land of Enchantment immediately began to heat up right along with the spring weather, and it’s growing hotter every month.

Cannabis Brand Marketing in New Mexico

How are New Mexican cannabis brands distinguishing themselves in a newly legal market? As you might expect from a state as gorgeous as the Land of Enchantment, cannabis marketing in New Mexico tends to leverage design elements that refer to the unique colors, shapes and symbols of this distinctive corner of the Southwest.

Everest Cannabis Company, for example, features web design inspired by topographic maps and New Mexico’s signature turquoise and cobalt hues. Sandia Cannabis’ logo features stylized mountains that reference Indigenous motifs. The High Desert Relief dispensary even incorporated into its logo the iconic Zia, which is the Land of Enchantment’s official state symbol and which originated from the indigenous Zia Pueblo. So did New Mexico Alternative Care, which blends the Zia with the green cross typically associated with medical cannabis, as well as the Rod of Asclepius, which is frequently used as a symbol of medicine.

Top 10 Cannabis Brands in New Mexico

From Santa Fe to Las Cruces, from Albuquerque to Taos, from Farmington to Carlsbad, there’s no shortage of cannabis brands and dispensaries in New Mexico, even if the market is brand new. 

Keyway MarketplaceSanta Fe, Albuquerque 
Mad ReeferMadrid
Minerva CannaSanta Fe, Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, Las Vegas
Oso Cannabis CompanySanta Fe, Ruidoso, Hobbs, Alamogordo, Carlsbad, Roswell, Portales, Las Cruces, Pojoaque, Anthony, Clovis, Taos
Pecos Valley ProductionAlbuquerque, Roswell, Carlsbad, Ruidoso, Sunland Park, Las Cruces, Portales, Clovis, Hobbs, Tularosa, Edgewood, Alamogordo
R. Greenleaf OrganicsSanta Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, 
Sacred GardenSanta Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Ruidoso
Southwest CannabisSanta Fe, Albuquerque, Española and Taos
Ultra HealthAlamogordo, Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Clayton, Clovis, Deming, Española, Farmington, Gallup Hobbs, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, Roswell, Santa Fe, Silver City, and Sunland Park
Verdes Foundation Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho

The Undeniable Importance of Strategic Partnerships in Marketing

When I think about the most powerful and impactful strategic partnerships I’ve been lucky enough to experience, my friend and client Bob Hampe is always near the top of that list.

I’ve been fortunate to have some truly meaningful strategic partnerships in the cannabis industry, but with Bob, our content marketing and content strategy work has long been focused outside of cannabis—where Bob’s company, Actall, specializes in real-time location system (RTLS) technology created to thrive in challenging physical environments, such as mental health facilities.

Bob and his team not only create best-in-class technology like RTLS for hospitals, he’s also the kind of inspiring, progressive, forward-looking CEO we prioritize working with at Grasslands. While Actall’s RTLS technology is used in corrections facilities across the U.S. and Canada, Bob spends considerable time encouraging his partners in this space to, as he wrote recently, “think creatively about the ways we can use technology to reduce recidivism and make the transition ‘back to society’ smoother for formerly incarcerated individuals.”

After knowing each other for a decade-plus of rock shows and music festivals, I’ll always remember a conversation Bob and I had over beers one night, right before Actall signed with Grasslands over two years ago. I opened up to Bob about my drive to be a better, more inclusive, more community-minded CEO—and when he started nodding along, it told me that he too was focused on being a more thoughtful leader. 

Bob at the 2021 Actall-Grasslands Pride Party

“Let’s do some of this together,” Bob told me. And that’s when Bob and I’s friendship turned into an agency-client relationship—as well as a significantly deeper strategic partnership.

Before that night was over, Bob and I agreed that our small businesses should co-host a Pride Party together that June. And less than a few months later, Bob was also dedicating resources to help support the first cohort of our agency’s Diversity-in-Marketing Internship Program.

Bob and I speak the same business languages in our official work together. But we also prioritize the same kinds of extracurricular initiatives outside of our day-to-day dealings.

Take the Pride Party as an example. Bob was already hosting a very special renegade Pride Party in the alley behind his house, which was just off what had been the Denver Pride Parade route in normal, non-pandemic years. He always invited his entire community—including family, friends, neighbors and colleagues—and that’s how I ended up there in June 2020. 

When we first talked about Grasslands  supporting his Pride Party the following summer, it was a no-brainer. Our thinking: We could bring our personal and professional networks together, to build more strategic partnerships among our communities—while also creating something that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. I asked Bob how my team and I could help with the event marketing and production. He asked if we could bring a bunch of breakfast burritos and mimosa-makings and rent some infrastructure to accommodate the larger crowds. 

Of course we were happy to—the larger the crowd we could draw, the greater the number of community connections we could cultivate and the more money we could raise for a good cause. We accepted cash tips at the breakfast bar and raised nearly $500 for The Center on Colfax, the largest LGBTQ+ community center in the Rocky Mountain region. 

Ricardo and Bob at the 2020 Actall Pride Party, which originally inspired their collaboration on another Pride party the following summer

As for Bob and Actall’s support of Grasslands’ Diversity-in-Marketing Internship Program, that collaboration was equally organic. Grasslands’ Chief of Staff Debbie McHugh and I developed and implemented the program out of our Indigenous-owned agency’s commitment to attract, develop and retain diverse, high-potential early-career marcom talent. One day, Bob asked me, “How can I help?”

Debbie and I knew that one day we’d develop a framework that would allow our partners and clients to support our DEI-centered internship program—but before we could develop the opportunity deck and put that out to our community, Bob beat us to the punch. And one week later he’d committed to supporting our internship program in a way that would also benefit his business. The Grasslands marketing and PR interns would each work on a project for Actall. That way, Bob and his team could be hands-on with these young professionals whose work would elevate Actall and its mission. 

The collaboration was a win-win for everyone involved, including our interns, who had the opportunity to be client-facing and present projects on which they had taken the lead—and receive feedback on their work from a client who had a vested interest in their success. Thinking back on this powerful collaboration still gives me goosebumps, especially because it was so successful.

Any business leader understands the immense value of these kinds of strategic partnerships—a content marketing client that turns into a creative collaborator and a like-minded, values-driven sounding board. It’s impossible to assign a value to this kind of strategic partner, especially because these kinds of relationships can last a lifetime. 

2022 will be the second summer of Grasslands’ Diversity-in-Marketing Internship program with a cohort of three spectacular young professionals. I wanted to take a brief moment to shout out to Bob Hampe of Actall and others like him. My colleagues and I are all the better for these relationships, and we look forward to more collabs with Bob and his team, and more opportunities with other visionary leaders and bold brands in our network.

The History and Evolution of 420 Marketing

4/20 is widely considered the dankest day of the year, when cannabis enthusiasts celebrate coast to coast and the whole world gets a little hazier. As legalization has spread and stigmatization has decreased, the term 420 has grown from a stoner in-joke to a nationally recognized, if still unofficial, holiday. 

And it remains a huge marketing opportunity, not unlike the commercialization of Pride Parades or the proliferation of Presidents Day sales. 

So how did this curious bit of shorthand that for decades has inspired the theft of 420 mile markers and street signs come to encompass decades of cannabis culture? Of all the historical terms linked to cannabis, from the racially-tinged marijuana to the devil’s lettuce, chronic and fire, how did 420 come to be so widely known and instantly recognizable? And how can cannabis brands capitalize on the enduring power of one of the best-known examples of cannabis culture slang? Here’s the scoop on 420 marketing.

The Origins of 420

As the legend goes, it all started in 1971 after school let out one fall afternoon in the Bay Area city of San Rafael, California. A group of friends who called themselves The Waldos shared a toke before heading out to Point Reyes in search of a clandestine weed crop that, according to local rumor, had been planted by a member of the ​​U.S. Coast Guard. The private code they used to remind one another to meet up for the mission at 4:20 p.m. became an inside joke passed back and forth in letters, in the school yearbook and even emblazoned on an art class batik banner. 

After The Waldos graduated, they continued to run in the broader Bay Area social scene of the 1970s, crossing paths with members of the Grateful Dead and their fans while working backstage at various gigs. The 420 joke trickled out of their friend group and into the lingo of the regional scene. In the years since, it took on a life of its own with a wide variety of telephone-game origin stories, like the popular theory that 420 was a law enforcement code for marijuana offenses. Eventually, 420 became baked into cannabis culture far beyond California, even as the larger myth obscured The Waldos’ role in starting what would become the ultimate stoner meme. 

The Power of Modern 420 Branding

Over five decades later, 420 has taken on a life of its own. The shortest of shorthands has gone from a time of day to puff-puff-pass with your buddies to an international holiday on April 20, when cannabis enthusiasts across the planet celebrate their favorite plant. 420 legalization rallies, parties, festivals and smoke-ins pop up every year in cities from San Francisco to Denver to Vancouver to Amsterdam. Even the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t dim 420’s shine, with many marketing events and community gatherings going online as state health officials discouraged large public gatherings. 

And while 420 fervor certainly hits a crescendo each April, the euphemism extends far beyond the cannabis realm. 

The 420 advertising campaigns and branding with mainstream products are everywhere: You’ll find it in dank-smelling, hoppy beers like Declaration Brewing’s massive 420 Freedom Pack or Sweetwater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale— not to mention their annual Sweetwater 420 Music Festival. The term is plastered on t-shirts, socks, stickers and water bottles. 420 even made the cover of cookbooks, lifestyle guides and adult coloring books

It’s a term embraced by companies big and small, both in and outside of the cannabis industry. Fast-food restaurants like Carl’s Jr. and snack brands like Totino’s embrace the meme. For a while at least, if you showed your receipt from the Canabliss Dispensary next door at Straight from New York Pizza in Portland, Oregon, they’d give you a slice and a soda for $4.20. Melt Cosmetics put out a 420 makeup palette in smoke sesh-inspired hues, and Arizona-based FourTwenty infused its skincare line with CBD and THC. Vacation rentals on sites like AirBnB, VRBO, and BudandBreakfast.com denote which properties are “420-friendly,” indicating on-site consumption is A-OK. 420 is the name of a canna-tourism group in Denver, a hotel package in Portland; and even a piece of cannabis legislation in California.

Why 420 Branding and Marketing Still Works

So why did 420 take off as a meme in the cannabis space decades before widespread legalization? And why has it endured in the era of big cannabis marketing budgets and a pop culture landscape increasingly driven by rapid-fire microtrends? Understanding why 420 has been such a durable meme is key to understanding what makes for effective 420 product launches. 

Essentially, 420 is a short, instantly recognizable phrase that still has the whiff of a secret or an inside joke. That’s the kind of snappy, larger-than-life tagline that marketers hunt for like prized truffles. The term signifies not just the overall appeal of cannabis, but also the pre-legalization era that evokes nostalgia for a lot of people who partake. Even if you never scarfed down a magic brownie in the parking lot of a Marin County Dead show, it’s hard to put a price on that kind of sentimentality. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the dispensary or happen to see a 420 street address, it always generates a “heh” moment.

420 is also flexible and adaptable, as any durable meme should be. Just look at the sheer variety of companies that have incorporated this catchphrase into their branding. These are just a few of the reasons why the week of April 20 remains one of the best times to launch cannabis products, and the days leading up to it feel a little like Black Friday.

420 Marketing Today

Despite being invented well before the internet went mainstream, 420 was perfectly adaptable perfectly to use as a hashtag and shorthand in the social media era too. It’s not often you find a piece of cultural ephemera that can be folded into new trends in the cannabis industry without losing its old-school flavor. Naturally, marketers still want to tap into that longstanding association. 

420’s decades-long staying power contributes to the meme’s unique ethos as well. Even years after the Waldos first met up at 4:20 p.m., the term still suggests that it’s time to enjoy yourself— the bud equivalent of “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” 420 still powerfully recalls The Waldos’ communal belief in putting a pause on obligations to take some time together and in the social nature of savoring weed

Of course brands of all sorts, whether in the cannabis industry or adjacent to it, would want to make that potent ethos their own. That’s especially true now that legal recreational and medical cannabis are bringing more people together than ever. While cannabis culture might be evolving beyond old stoner stereotypes, 420 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

5 More Key Cannabis Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Brand (Part 2)

Three cannabis marketing professionals are in a conference room, one seated with a laptop at a table and two standing at a white board gesturing at elements of a marketing strategy

In the crowded cannabis space, everyone’s jockeying for brand awareness. But coming out first in the race for customer attention requires some savvy planning. It also requires deep familiarity with regulated cannabis markets and cannabis advertising regulations that impact both digital marketing and offline strategies.

Getting your team aligned on your marketing goals is the first step. Here’s how to start the conversation on your cannabis marketing strategy:

1) Meet Your Target Audience With Market Research

To build trust and get your well-defined brand out there, you first have to reach your target audience. This is a two-fold process.

Meeting your customers where they’re at means dialing in on who exactly fits into your brand’s target audience. These insights happen through quality market research.

It also means knowing where your customers go online and off, so you can make sure your cannabis brand is in the right place at the right time. Cannabis marketing agencies like Grasslands can help you identify and reach your target audiences through earned and owned media channels, advertising and event marketing.

2) Stay Informed on Cannabis Marketing Rules

Because cannabis is such a highly regulated industry, it’s important to ensure the content strategy you’re executing on earned, owned and paid media channels is in line with current state and federal cannabis marketing laws and adheres to marketing policies set forth by private advertising platforms. Cannabis businesses face all sorts of marketing obstacles  that companies in other fields do not—from restrictions on financial transactions to stringent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advertising rules to social media network policies on the promotion of drugs. Don’t waste your time and budget on advertising strategies that you won’t be able to legally execute on or that could lead to the need for crisis management services.

3) Leverage Local and Regional Marketing Opportunities

Dreaming big is important—after all, what business owner doesn’t want their brand to take the biggest market share possible, growing to national or even global proportions? It’s equally important to dream small, though. And by that, we mean that it’s critical for most cannabis businesses to leverage and secure their local markets before attempting to grow on a broader scale.

Because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, many cannabusinesses focus first on developing their business strategy and market presence in a single post-prohibition state. That can look like using geo-targeted ads and social media posts, locally-focused SEO keywords, and leveraging regional networks and partnerships.

The power of a solid local and regional presence is another reason to partner with a cannabis marketing agency that has deep ties in your target market and is already well connected with local journalists, media outlets and other cannabusinesses that can help you reach your target audiences.

4) Cultivate Community Through Event Marketing

Digital marketing is integral to any cannabis marketing strategy. But don’t discount the importance of real, live events to bring people together, including potential customers. Whether you’re hosting a mixer or reception at a larger conference like the NoCo Hemp Expo or MjBizCon or a happy hour in your own backyard, event marketing is a great fit for cannabis companies for several reasons.

For one, cannabis products are inherently fun to enjoy with other people. And even if people can’t consume at your event, you know your guests will vibe over their shared interest.

For another, there’s nothing like getting people together in person to generate buzz and word of mouth—a key product of any marketing strategy that is worth its weight in gold (or green). Events are also a great way to build a sense of community. That’s invaluable in and of itself, but particularly so in an industry that is working to change decades of bad press and drug war stigma. Chances are your target audience wants to feel like they’re a part of something. Event marketing is a way for your brand to make that wish come true.

5) Don’t Get Lost in the Weeds

It’s an easy pun to make but an important lesson to remember. You’re bound to find yourself getting deep down in the details of building your business—especially in an industry that’s changing as fast and growing as big as cannabis. But while you’re building your brand’s digital market presence and getting face time with your neighbors offline, don’t forget to have fun.

At the end of the day, marketing cannabis products and services is all about helping people feel their best and connect with one another. Even if your brand tends toward a no-nonsense voice with more buttoned-up messaging,  it’s important to stay in touch with the positive, driving spirit at the heart of the cannabis industry. Maybe that’s just easy for us to say because at Grasslands, we really love what we do. But it will help you stay in touch with the core needs of your customers, too.

Want to learn more? Read our first post in this two part series: Five Key Strategies for Marketing Your Cannabusiness. 

Got a marketing question? Reach out to the Grasslands team anytime.

What the Best Cannabis PR Firms Have Learned About Clio-Winning Marketing Campaigns

Grasslands founder Ricardo Baca stands in the agency office holding the Bronze Clio trophy surrounded by staff members seated in a circle around the room

Who doesn’t love being recognized for hard work? To say we were stoked to win a Clio Award for our agency’s PR campaign for the United States Cannabis Council’s national brand launch is a huge understatement.

Founded in 1959, the Clio Awards showcase the power of marketing in shaping our social consciousness and are a coveted mark of distinction. And since 2019, the Clio program has included a special category for best-in-class cannabis marketing and PR, celebrating the innovative work that’s changing public perception of the industry and legitimizing creators’ dynamic vision in the field.

Bringing home a Clio bronze trophy for USCC’s highly successful 2021 brand launch is the culmination of years of experience learning what makes a Clio Award-winning campaign. The Grasslands team has earned unique insight into what constitutes the kind of boundary-pushing work the Clio jurors look for each year:

Prior to joining Grasslands as our Chief Marketing Officer, Jesse Burns won gold for product design in 2019, the inaugural year of the Clios Cannabis category. The following year, Grasslands CEO Ricardo Baca was invited to serve on the 2020 Clio jury. And one year after that, Baca also contributed voice-acting work to a 2021 Clio-winning episode of Hemp In History produced by The Nug Nation, appearing as the talking-joint narrator.

“I’ve always known that the PR and marketing work we produce inside these four walls is best in class and can hang with the work coming from any other agency,” Baca said. “It’s an honor to have that hypothesis tested by the world’s leader in celebrating creativity in marketing and advertising.”

CREATIVE STORYTELLING, THE GRASSLANDS WAY

So what exactly goes into crafting Clio-worthy cannabis PR campaigns? Today’s cannabis brands are looking to push the envelope with their marketing-communications and PR efforts, setting a goal beyond simple brand recognition to create truly innovative campaigns that advance the industry as a whole. 

But winning a Clio means more than producing smart, appealing collateral. It also requires knowing how to create a submission that effectively tells the story of the work your team has done and the impact it made. 

Sean Billisitz, a Brand Storyteller at Grasslands, said planning ahead is key: “Submitting something for the Clio campaigns is as much about the quality of your submission as the quality of the work your submission is telling a story about. You want to show how the work you’re describing was accomplished.” 

So we made a behind-the-scenes video about it. 

Opting to go the extra mile and creating a video for the submission is in fact a winning strategy that taps into the power of rich media storytelling.

THE SECRET SAUCE OF CLIO-WORTHY CANNABIS MARKETING

And what does the Clio jury want from the submissions it receives? 

“The Clios aren’t a popularity contest, and most jurors recognize that this is a tremendous responsibility they are carrying on their shoulders,” Baca said. “A Clio is something that runs in somebody’s obituary when they die. It carries the weight of an Oscar or a Grammy. It’s not art, per se, but it is artful commerce. Everything for the Clios comes down to bold, courageous creativity.”

The submitted presentation has to connect with a jury composed of creative and marketing professionals from many different facets of the industry. The work that goes before them sets the standard for a nascent and growing field. Impactful cannabis marketing must also function as an ambassadorial effort in some way, connecting with the general public across an uneven landscape of differing social norms. 

It’s not just about the work up for an award. It’s also about knowing how to present in such a way that can be metabolized by the public and help them understand where messaging and cannabis culture are at this moment. Baca noted that the year he served as a juror, he wanted to celebrate work that “was something pushing the marketing paradigm forward. Something with a historical perspective. The cannabis narrative is wholly unique because so many people of color were disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. It’s important to not be completely self-centered.”

The bronze Clios trophy sits on the counter at the Grasslands agency office as team members sit in groups participating in a team-building exercise

MAKING THE MOST OF CANNABIS PR

When’s the last time you took a moment to think deeply about your brand’s marketing and PR strategy? If you’re ready to level up your messaging, review past Clio-winning submissions—you’ll be inspired by what the best cannabis PR firms have accomplished in the past three years. Dream about where your brand will be in a year. After all, this is a fast-growing industry built on calculated risks. What moves can you make that feel like a leap, even as you stick the landing?

Also review your past marketing and PR efforts with a Clio submission in mind. Even if you don’t have a campaign that feels like the right fit, revisiting your previous work can be a good thought starter: What collateral would illustrate your progress? Are you documenting the results of your campaigns in ways that enable you to effectively tell the story of what your team accomplished? Do you have the right industry partners in your corner to take your brand messaging further?

“It comes down to having the courage to push through an idea, to push through a campaign, to push through a piece of marketing that is risky but is built around meaningful relationships, built around emotion,” Burns said. “It has to transcend the industry itself and go back to the roots of human connection.”

Cannabis is a nascent industry, and the campaigns marketing professionals are putting out to the world are truly transforming cannabis culture. The Clio Awards organizers recognize this and are facilitating—and providing incentive for—brave work that is defining what cannabis culture will become. 

Whether you craft a Clios submission in-house or work with a marketing firm, it’s invigorating to know that your story is contributing to the evolution of the industry—and that your brand might join the likes of PuffCoCharlotte’s WebMartha Stewart and Veritas in the next class of Clio winners.