While television 60 years ago may have felt like a “vast wasteland” to literate federal regulators like former FCC chairman Newton Minow, who died earlier this week, today’s TikTok-infused media landscape makes a 12-hour stream of soap operas, game shows and situation comedies seem like Elizabethan literature.
And that’s without any THC.
There are virtues, vices and tradeoffs found in every medium from every age. However, the emergence of legal cannabis as a mainstream industry in the United States coincides with an era when most of us receive news, product information and other prompts in which we revolve our lives through social media feeds.
We are living in bongwater bubbles of our own creation.
This has serious implications for a sector that’s signature product is against federal law and where the stock prices for leading U.S. corporations are going up in smoke. Sure, there are other industries that are coming of age amidst this exponential fragmentation of electronic channels that help us define reality. But cannabis is the only one that trades in a substance that for 5,000 years has been consumed to help us at least in part reframe reality.
The hundreds of thousands of us who today are banking our careers on the legal U.S. cannabis industry must take greater advantage of this weird wrinkle in time to better convey through our own social networks – both online and off – why weed works for us.
Here are three ways legal cannabis professionals – and those who aspire to join the ascending industry – can better broadcast the benefits of bud businesses to friends and followers through social media feeds and “in real life” interactions.
Celebrate your journey and the pioneering spirit of the industry
Chances are you are one of only a few people in your circle of friends and family that are gainfully employed with a licensed cannabis company or organization that serves the industry. Your story is special and will inform how those around you perceive the commercialization of cannabis. As legal restrictions and social stigmas dissipate in 38 states and counting, curiosity among your peers will deepen.
Social media posts that thoughtfully chronicle your own journey in transitioning to cannabis from some other sector (or pursuing the pot path as your first job) will have an outsized impact on how others around you perceive the good work that we are doing together. Personalization contributes to normalization. As the most plant-averse members of your network better understand the tradeoffs, challenges and rewards you are reaping by forging new ground in an industry that likely didn’t exist in your state a decade or two ago, the impression you leave is one of adventure and professional growth as opposed to a caricature of some dope amateurishly growing skunk weed in the basement.
Educate others on the bizarro economics of cannabis
Many casual observers believe industry operators are rolling in cash. News headlines that point to stories about month-to-month sales increases in developing markets or multi-billion dollar valuations of a small handful of operators are more clickable than those that detail the nuances of the IRS 280e tax code and other restrictions stifling the industry.
The fact is, most cannabis companies regardless of size and scale are struggling in 2023 just to make ends meet. While bud bolsters the budgets for states where it’s legal, operators are financially constrained due to the federal illegality of the product they grow, manufacture and sell. Without changes to federal banking and tax laws, there is a good chance that the company that employs you will downsize in the coming months regardless of its sales and operational performance.
A growing chorus of cannabis professionals and members of their social networks writing about the issue online and tagging their elected officials may help bring SAFE Banking and financial relief to the industry sooner rather than later. Refreshingly, these political posts need not be ideological. Cannabis is neither a red or blue issue. We all know the plant is green.
Appreciate the point of view of dissenters
Invariably, positive pot posts will provoke dissenters who don’t share your sentiments as to the power of the plant and possibilities that will ensue with expanded legalization and normalization. Some may have a legitimate reason to comment with a contrary point of view on your feed. Others could just be looking for disruption and long for the days when an egg on a frying pan represented the mainstream media view of “your brain on drugs.” Regardless, save your flame wars for “borrowing” lighters from friends.
Being pro pot on social media doesn’t mean we should ignore reliable evidence and reasoned commentary pointing to adverse effects of pot consumption. Our understanding of cutting edge research about cannabis – the good, the bad, and the smelly – benefits from peer review in the public domain. Until the United States Food & Drug Administration meaningfully authorizes federal research of cannabis, curated feeds from research institutions abroad is the best way to get the straight dope on the plant.
As the vast wasteland of federal cannabis policy catches up with the minds, hearts and lungs of most voters, it is our responsibility as industry stakeholders to advocate for normalization one tik, tok and toke at a time.