4 Things that Suck about the Cannabis Industry Right Now (No, Not the Obvious Ones)
My mom would kill me for using the word “suck” in the title, but these 4 things, well, suck on a daily basis so I had to go with the truth.
While the headlines all predict future billions for those willing to enter the nascent cannabis space, there are plenty of things that need to be fixed up, and I am not referring to the obvious ones like a Federal schedule 1 listing on the cannabis plant, no access to banking for cannabis businesses, and the inability to cross state lines with the product or put it in the US mail. Here are 4 under-the-radar problems in the cannabis that will need to be straightened out when the other ones get worked out.
- Scammers and fake sellers – If you run a cannabis website that allows posting, so either a social network or forum of some sort, you will be familiar with this one. Plenty of people of posting saying they are selling cannabis and cannabis products, followed by pictures of what appear to be cannabis grows, edibles, and vape cartridges. The posts are usually accompanied with a Wickr number, a WhatsApp number, or a picture of a phone number written on a napkin in a picture. Posters ask for payment by iTunes gift card or Amazon card, and then never deliver on promised products. If you read the government filings for Mass Roots, listed under “threats to the business”, you will see “black market growers and people pretending to be selling cannabis” as posts on their social network. We have the same problem on our social network, as does Social High, i.e., keeping scammers out. Not only are people illegally trying to sell cannabis, but 90% are just scammers taking pictures off the Internet and trying to get people to send them money by Western Union, gift cards, or electronic transfers. We have a unique algorithm to keep “posting trying to sell cannabis” off the Weed Feed, and we also have written warnings as to not buy cannabis from anyone posting on the Weed Feed. As with all scammers, the posters evolve and now try to use the comments sections and direct private messages to try and dupe people.
The other problem is that the crime is unreportable.Who can call the police and say, “Hi, I was trying to buy weed illegally and I sent a gift card to a guy and never got my ounce of weed, what can you do?”.
- Sexism – If you follow our posts you will know that we have spoken out against the “Boobs and Bongs” mentality in a few articles like this one and the most recent on Dan Bilzerian and his Ignite cannabis brand using a group of bikini clad women to promote his cannabis brand. The cannabis industry is a fertile ground for women and women owned business due the fact the entire industry is so new and decades old “old boys’ networks” don’t exist yet. There are extremely smart and hard-working women in the industry such as Jane West, Shanel Lindsey, Shaleen TItle and the WeGrow womens’ movement, and taking pictures in your underwear smoking a joint is not doing anyone a favor. It is demeaning and objectifying women, and it doesn’t help to educate or break the stigma around the cannabis plant. I am all for free speech, and I am a heterosexual male who likes to see attractive females just like the next guy, but there is a time a place for everything. The cannabis explosion, coming on the heals of the #metoo movement, should not be a place where striping down to your underwear and putting a bong in between your boobs in order to get more likes on Instagram is “cool”. It is sexist and demeaning to all the hard-working women in the cannabis space who are fighting for equality and respect in the cannabis space.
The excuse most commonly used to defend this type of marketing is “sex sells” “it’s always been done” and “good marketing as we are talking about it now”.Just because something was done in the past doesn’t mean it is okay now. We didn’t let women vote until 1945 in America and we didn’t say “Well, they never voted before so why start now”.Just because sex sells, or gets more clicks or likes, doesn’t make it right, or just, for a cause. Would you tell Michelle Obama, “Look, it is a great picture of you holding a cannabis plant and wearing a badge saying, ‘Legalize It’, but if you took off your clothes and laid down in a bed with the plant it would be way more popular and get more LIKES.”? Does Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth, have to get on his thong and hold a Tweed Vape pen between his legs to get attention and sales? No, it would be ludicrous to think he would or want to do that, so why are we putting LIKES and HEARTS next to women who do go that route? In the end, it helps no one, not the model, not the plant, not the stigma, not women in general, not the industry, not legalization.
- Platform Bias – In the cannabis space you cannot buy advertising yet on a major scale because cannabis is a schedule 1 drug in the USA and Google, Facebook, Amazon and the rest will not allow ads for cannabis, or CBD at this time. If you have $ 10,000 a day to spend on cannabis ads on Google or Facebook, you couldn’t, as they won’t approve your ad or take your money. That leaves traffic up to SEO and social media posts. The problem with these options is that you are at the whims of Google on search, and the depending on what day of the week it is, the whims of how Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram feel about cannabis traffic. Google recently enacted a “Medic” update, which reorganized all health-related sites in their search ranks, and cannabis sites come under this same update or penalty. Major news sites that have cannabis reporting departments (see Washington Post, Boston Globe, Vox, Vice Media, etc.) saw their rankings increase for cannabis traffic, while stand-alone cannabis sites got demoted and lost traffic (see High Times and Herb.co). YouTube was fine with cannabis videos for years until #potpurge hit and they removed all cannabis channels and videos. Later claiming it was an artificial intelligence mistake they did re-instate some videos and channels. Facebook has a long history of shutting down cannabis business pages for no rhyme or reason. They will shut down legally licensed dispensary pages but allow sites like Herb.co to have 10 million fans. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, does the same, shutting down legal pages and accounts randomly and letting others get to millions of followers. What is the trick to staying alive and not getting shut down? No one really knows for sure as that information is all decided by algorithms at Google and Facebook, but getting clarity on what type of posts, videos, and accounts are allowed would help the industry a ton. Getting messages like “this violates our community standards on the promotion of drug use or paraphernalia” just doesn’t cut it anymore for such a vast and growing trillion-dollar, worldwide niche.
- Traveling with cannabis – Due to the Federal status of cannabis, it is still kind-of, sort-of, okay to travel with it if you are going to a legal cannabis state, but not stopping on a layover in a non-legal state…wait, what? Exactly. We think TSA is okay with it and they are not looking for drugs, but for bombs and weapons. We think you can fly from one legal state to another okay now, but if you have a layover in a non-legal state and the airport dog sniffs you bag…well, I think I am okay, right? This is related to a Federal law change obviously but it is tough with over 50 new cannabis shows and conferences a year now popping up on our cannabis events page here, traveling to theses shows with your product or seeds is a problem. You kind-of, sort-of can, but maybe not, depending on if you pass through a non-legal state by car, but plane is okay, etc. If you are traveling with recreational cannabis to a show, you are in the same boat of figuring out if you should take cannabis flower, or just some vape pens, or just some edibles, or can I buy it in the state the show is taking place or business meeting?
A majority of cannabis industry problems stem from the Federal classification of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, hence, no research is allowed, no banking is allowed, no crossing of a state line, no post office use for the drug (USPS is a Federal office), no ability to pay taxes, etc. Once the drug is de-scheduled as the STATES ACT in Congress is trying to do, we will be able to have a uniform system of banking rules, advertising rules, transportation rules, and travel rules. No one should have to worry about taking their medicine in Ohio as an MMJ patient and being arrested in Alabama on a 30-minute lay-over while carrying your medicine in your carry-on bag. In the same sense, cannabis business owners should not have to keep millions of dollars in cash on hand because they can’t safely put money in the bank or get a business back account. This puts employees and communities at risk for high crime by NOT allowing cannabis business to put their cash in the bank, or for that matter, just allow direct credit and debit card transactions at dispensaries and we can solve 3 problems at once.