When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I first became involved in the cannabis industry in May 2018. I had just returned to Toronto after a year in Florida and was looking for a job. One of my mom’s friends was a security guard for a legacy market dispensary and asked if I was interested in being a budtender. Of course, I said yes and spent the next five months budtending until they were raided the week before legalization. Almost exactly one year after first starting in the industry I created my Instagram account to share photos of my blunts, and ultimately ended up creating a community and a brand.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced when working with cannabis companies/brands is restrictions surrounding advertising. Unfortunately, Canadian cannabis marketing restrictions do not allow companies/brands to market through traditional advertising routes, which means social media tends to be their primary marketing tool. As with any form of marketing the creator should be compensated fairly, but companies/brands have their hands tied with restrictions and are forced to comply or bend the rules.
Photo by Khary Safari
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
It would definitely take changing more than one restriction, but I would love to see Cannabis treated more like alcohol in terms of packaging and advertising restrictions. It is possible to allow more freedom with marketing and packaging while including all of the necessary health and safety information. I believe that the root of the problem is misinformation, stigma, and lack of educational resources available to the general public. Social media censorship makes it even more difficult to provide the necessary education to the public in an easily accessible and consumable format, furthering the stigma.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
It can be quite tricky for cannabis companies to navigate social media community guidelines while showcasing their products. I find that in the Canadian cannabis market, Reddit is a very valuable platform for connecting producers with consumers. Consumers can provide reviews and feedback that producers can easily access and respond to directly. Producers can freely showcase their products, build a following, and be a part of the conversation.
Are there any other trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
I am so grateful to be surrounded by so many inspiring, trail-blazing Canadian women that I get to call my friends. They inspire me every day to work harder, try new things, go outside my comfort zone, and be the best version of myself.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Market to your consumers. Although this may seem obvious, I find that most Canadian cannabis brands tend to market more to those in the cannabis industry, like retailers and budtenders. There are already so many ways for cannabis brands to connect with retailers and budtenders through store visits, educational materials and sampling, industry events, etc. But there aren’t nearly as many opportunities for brands to connect with consumers, which is why it is so important to use those opportunities and platforms wisely. Budtenders and retailers are consumers too!