This week’s Trailblazer is Mehrose Kishan, Head of Marketing at The Woods Cannabis, a Brampton dispensary and store that is perfectly situated for any Brampton cannabis lover.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I’ve been involved with cannabis since 2016 but started operating on the legal side in 2021. Since my teenage years, I’ve been passionate about the plant and infuriated by the negative stigma that surrounds it. When legalization occurred, I had very low expectations of what the early days would look like. I spent 2018-2021 helping grey market brands with branding, marketing and events. In 2021, with inspiration from the US’s legal market, I decided to pursue a career in the legal cannabis industry. In the summer of 2021 I met the founders of The Woods Cannabis, which at the time hadn’t opened their flagship store. I was brought on board to be the Head of Marketing, but my role includes wearing many hats, which include social media management, cultural events, and store management.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Consistency and Guidelines. Due to the restrictive guidelines on social media apps and the lack of resources that cannabis companies can pursue in terms of public marketing, there’s a major lack of consistency with companies and their marketing initiatives.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
Overall relaxation of advertising restrictions on cannabis products. Both Canada and the United States have implemented strict regulations on how cannabis can be marketed to the public, aiming to prevent youth exposure and misleading information, which is an essential consideration but these restrictions include limitations on where cannabis ads can be displayed, the content of the ads, and restrictions on celebrity endorsements. I believe cannabis can and should be marketed in a similar way as alcohol. A balance between creative content creation featuring cannabis and paraphernalia without the direct promotion of sale should be acceptable.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Events. Whether we’re talking about large scale events such as KIND or more intimate ones like The Indie 420, events are a great way to highlight and showcase the best of what the industry has to offer. Budtenders AND consumers attend these events, although more budtenders than consumers, I personally feel I’ve seen a blend of different demographics.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Yes! Justin and Eric, the founders of The Woods Cannabis. Patrick, Spensir, Dippi and the rest of the Coterie Team. Shahbaaz from KIND. Just to name a few.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Stay passionate, hungry and innovative. You’ll face many obstacles and scrap a lot of ideas but we need more trailblazers to push the envelope in order for us to continue to grow this industry.