When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
Summer of 2018, when I was introduced to the folks at TGOD while working at a CPG design agency. Post-legalization, I made the leap over to the brand side and spent the next three years at two larger LPs. And now I’m almost two years into my journey with Wyld.
I joined because I have a passion for brand building, and there was this incredibly unique opportunity to be one of the first to do that with a legal weed brand. That, plus my own history with the plant – it just made sense to go for it.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Packaging – without the ability to use colours, textures, unique materials and designs, you see a sea of sameness in Canadian cannabis retail. I would absolutely love to see what would come to market if we could flex on packaging design like we see in other legal markets.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
I’ll go for the obvious one here – 10mg THC limit on edibles in Canada. NORML Canada currently has an open petition to the government to change the limit to 100mg THC – I encourage anyone reading this to go sign it.
My personal, somewhat biased, opinion on this:
Health Canada won’t change regulations because consumers want more THC per package, or because there are revenue/taxation opportunities. Even if those are compelling benefits for consumers, industry and the regulator.
A more compelling argument for change would be that current regulation limiting THC is counteracting Health Canada’s own mandate. In short, from HC’s legislative review alert from January 2023:
“The Act was designed to (a) protect the health and safety of Canadians, to (b) keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and (c) profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime.”
Now let’s revisit some of the unintended impacts of limiting THC in edibles to 10mg:
a) It encourages Canadians to seek illicit, higher THC edibles that are potentially untested, untraceable and hazardous.
b) It exposes children and youth to illicit THC edibles more frequently. More purchases of illicit products equals more risk to youth by way of no child-resistant packaging, potentially hazardous products, and confusing branding that appeals to youth just like regular candy.
c) It funnels Canadian consumers directly to the illicit market, keeping that potential legal revenue in the pockets of illicit producers.
And that’s not even touching on the single-use plastic problem that comes along with all those tiny 10mg packages – another issue our government is said to be concerned about.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Aside from just being authentic… I’d summarize a good recipe for success as consumer-centered trade marketing that works cohesively with your digital messaging, combined with the grit that’s needed to execute brick-by-brick in collaboration with your sales team.
Are there any other trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Too many to name, but lately:
Leaders: Meaghan Ralston at Maggie Jane Marketing, the team at Marigold Marketing and PR & Tether, Andrea Dobbs and A-team at Village Bloomery, Danielle Samson at Wyld, and Adolfo Gonzalez and the Book Club crew.
Educators: Dr. Codi Peterson on LinkedIn, Miyabe Shields (@miyabephd on IG), Riley Kirk (@cannabichem on Instagram)
Bridge-builders: Jordan Wagman (@chefjordanwagman on IG), Anna Li (@cannabinista.co on IG)
Fire Memes: @upinsmoke604 – shoutout to the team at Up in Smoke in Van
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Bring your fresh eyes in as a strength, not a weakness. Talent is currently leaving our industry, so we are seeing the same ideas repackaged as folks switch cannabis companies. Be bold, be authentic… and push your compliance team as far as they’ll go on risk tolerance 😉