This week’s Trailblazer is Anna The Cannabinista, a cannabis recipe developer and content creator. She specializes in showing her community how to create simple and healthy infused foods, in the comfort of their own homes. Anna’s purpose as a digital creator is to use infused cooking as a way to end stigmas. You can find Anna’s cannabis recipes on her website, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I’ve been a cannabis consumer since my early 20s but it wasn’t until 2020 that I started posting cannabis-infused recipes and content online. Once The Cannabinista started growing digitally, that was really when I started to involve myself more with the industry.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
The biggest challenge has been two-fold: Canadian marketing regulations and social media censorship. I think cannabis companies and brands want to leverage influencers and creators to help elevate their brand presence online, or even just come up with engaging marketing campaigns. But unfortunately, their hands are super tied when it comes to engaging with influencer marketing or experiential marketing because they have to work within the cannabis marketing regulations in Canada, but also abide by the “digital laws” aka community guidelines that tech giants like Instagram and TikTok have enforced.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
Social media platforms should allow educational content on their platforms. However, until the US federally legalizes cannabis, I don’t see how they’re going to make this change. Unless they implemented some type of geofilter where only legalized countries can see/post cannabis content – but I doubt that these tech giants would invest resources to build out a product just for a specific country. Social media platforms are (almost) universal, and the reality is that with cannabis still being illegal in many countries, they still have to keep some type of restriction for the non-legalized countries.
If I could change the marketing restrictions it would be to:
1. Update the Instagram appeal process by including an explanation as to what specific piece of content was violated based on the community guidelines so that at least the brand/creator can better understand what to avoid doing in the future
2. Create more fairness amongst who’s cannabis content gets to be on social platforms and/or monetized. Currently, celebrities and non-cannabis influencers are allowed to post cannabis content (and in some cases even monetize off it) as freely as they wish without including education into the piece of content. These double standards are truly unfair to cannabis brands and creators who put in effort to create content that is educational but end up getting their account flagged or content removed.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Speaking from a content creator and regular cannabis consumer perspective, the most effective way for cannabis companies to connect with consumers is increasing brand awareness through messaging on unique value propositions of the brand/product and investing in video content to engage audiences.
With so many brands and SKUs in market today, it can be extremely challenging for brands to stand out in-store and online, and stay top of mind for consumers when they’re making the purchase decision. In my opinion, I think that in order for brands to resonate with consumers, they need to focus their messaging on what makes their brand stand apart. Whether it’s in the growing practices, the ingredients, sustainability, their philosophies, brands need to place more emphasis on crafting their story beyond just the product description.
As for video content, this is an absolute must when it comes to connecting with online audiences. Static images showcasing products can only go so far in terms of engagement. People want to see more rich content!
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
I’ve been super amazed at all the amazing women in cannabis… from CEOs to budtenders, retailers, writers, creatives, sales reps, growers, the list goes on! I think the cannabis industry is such a unique industry in the sense that it has some of the most passionate people I know. Take the CPG industry, for example, you don’t really see people who are outwardly saying they love toothpaste and laundry detergent. But the cannabis industry? People are crazy passionate about the plant, and that really gets me excited.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Networking with other people in the cannabis industry is key. Whether they’re a budtender, retailer, corporate professional, influencer – talk to everyone! Meeting people in the industry is going to be the best way to learn the ins and outs, and stay up to date with all the changes that are constantly happening in the industry. It’s also a great way to connect with other people who are equally as passionate about the plant as you may be.
I was a complete outsider when I first started creating cannabis content. I had no pre-legalization experience, and I didn’t know anyone who worked in the industry. By proactively attending cannabis events, talking to budtenders and retailers in-person and through social media, and just connecting with the community whenever I had a chance – this really helped me build connections in the industry, and create some of the most genuine friendships in my life today.