postcard that was mailed to voters

Voting YES for Medical Marijuana Zoning

A Canna Communication Case Study

Early last summer we were contacted by a cannabis entrepreneur that was facing opposition to a medical marijuana grow business in Egelston Township, Michigan. He realized he needed professional communication assistance with this issue and we jumped right in.

Background:
The elected officials in Egelston Township opted-in for medical marijuana businesses in late 2017. Soon after opting in, the entrepreneur/grower who had already purchased property in the township started construction on buildings for greenhouses and a provisioning center. In the spring of 2018, a resident of the municipality who is also a developer that owns a subdivision adjacent to the two greenhouses under construction began circulating a petition to upend medical marijuana zoning in the community. The petitions were validated by the township clerk, and the proposal would appear on the mid-term ballot. If the vote didn’t go the grower’s way, he would lose the opportunity to have any cannabis business in the township.

We were asked to create a campaign to persuade voters to keep medical marijuana zoning in the township.

We provided the client with a full political campaign proposal and he chose to rely on web, social media, direct mail, and yard signs. Our messaging focused on providing accurate information and guiding conversations while helping people understand two issues: zoning and medical marijuana.

Strategy:
After a discovery meeting with the client, his horticulturist, attorney and a business colleague we wrote a set of key messages that went to the heart of the zoning issue.

The messages focused on:

  • The township has done its due diligence in creating medical marijuana zoning and the work should be respected.
  • The township work was done with multiple opportunities for public input and within the open meetings act.
  • Ensuring people knew this was a medical marijuana business issue. Adding to the complexity was that Michigan voters were going to vote on recreational marijuana, too. This was a separate issue, but also on the ballot. This was a point of confusion for people.
  • Voting yes for medical marijuana zoning.

We created a theme for the campaign and began work on developing a website and a Facebook page. We presented Egelston Grows Green as the theme because it spoke to the idea of growth in the township, not only cannabis itself but jobs and tax revenue. We wanted to include the township name in the theme to create a sense of place, identity and pride.

The key messages were used to create website content, to launch the Facebook page and to provide content throughout the summer. As it came closer to election time, we promoted the vote and ended each post with a Vote YES for medical marijuana zoning message.

photo of the egelston grows green facebook page
Facebook cover photograph

Significant challenges and opportunities for execution:
One of the most significant challenges we faced was the convoluted language that was in the petition and on the ballot. We knew that the best thing we could do was to make it simple for voters to understand and accurate to the ballot. We chose: vote yes for medical marijuana zoning.

In May of 2018, Facebook put restrictions on two essential parts of our campaign: political advertising and marijuana pages. The platform required anyone wanting to conduct political advertising to supply a physical mailing address and a copy of a photo ID like a driver’s license. We did this but were thwarted by another new policy that made marijuana pages unsearchable. Cannabis pages and groups that had been easy to find for years had disappeared from the search tool, and Facebook was denying requests to boost to create ads for all marijuana businesses regardless of what they did, i.e., law firms and accountants were being denied promotional space. This made launching the site and promoting content a challenge, especially for a new page. We relied on a network of advocates to share our daily posts and a popular community-centric Facebook page, Wolf Lake World News. We posted our information on that site and engaged in multiple conversations there, too.

We created the website egelstongrowsgreen.com for key messages and details about the growing operation, that people had an interest in. They wanted to know how this business could potentially affect them: everything from the smell, to security, to job creation, to compliance, water use and plant waste. We posted two informational videos to the page as well. All the time we are reinforcing the message about voting yes for medical marijuana.

yard sign about voting yes for medical marijuanaOne month before the election we helped the client with a succinct, clear message for yard signs and designed a postcard for voters. These collateral materials reinforced the singular importance of voting yes for medical marijuana zoning. The postcards were mailed to the 7500 voters in the township. The client also held a yard sign pick-up event with principals on-site to answer questions. 

postcard that was mailed to voters to encourage them to vote yes for medical marijuana
front of the postcard

In the days before the election, one of the business partners secured a video interview with a hyperlocal indie news channel, and we were able to share that interview and clear up some of the misconceptions that the opposition was promoting.

Outcome:
Great news! The voters of Egelston Township approved the zoning ordinance 1921 to 1751 votes.

thankful graphic because we are thankful for cannabis legalization in Michigan

Cannabis Legalization in Michigan: A New Day

This piece first appeared in Rapid Growth as a guest blog on November 15, 2018

There are moments in your life when things happen and you always rememdrawing of Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, he is mentioned in this article about cannabis legalization in Michiganber where you were and what you were doing. Some memorable events are bad, like the Challenger explosion, the World Trade Center attacks, or the death of Jerry Garcia. And then there are the good, memorable events. I’ll never forget when same-sex marriage was made legal. And most recently when cannabis legalization happened in Michigan with the voter approval of Proposition 1. My business partner and I launched our firm, Canna Communication, in the summer of 2017, knowing we’d be working in medical cannabis for a couple of years, but were focused on the passage of adult-use recreational legalization. I spent election night in Detroit watching voting returns in a Jefferson Avenue law office, consuming cannabis with a few dozen other activists until early in the morning when we were sure we’d won. I proudly wore the heady scent of marijuana the entire next day.

Sometime in early December — ten days after the election results are certified — Prop 1 will begin to be implemented. For those of you that were hoping to go out and buy cannabis in a shop, you’ll have to wait for at least a year; that’s how long the legislature has to review and adopt the law.

The good news is, if you already have cannabis on your person, you’re not a criminal anymore, and that’s the most critical aspect of the passage of this law.

If commerce and tax revenue are the brains of ending prohibition, then decriminalization is its heart.

With the new law, you can grow up to 12 plants on your property without having a caregiver license. You can possess up to 2.5 ounces on your person. You can have up to 10 ounces in your home. None of this is a crime anymore. If you are a non-medical, card-carrying marijuana consumer, you no longer need to worry about trouble with the police if you have cannabis and let’s say, you are stopping for speeding. As long as you are NOT under the influence or using as you’re driving, the small bag of marijuana in your purse or pocket is your own damn business.

For people of color, marijuana law has always been unfair. According to the ACLU, people of color are arrested at a rate 3.7 times greater than white people, though whites, African Americans, and Latinx people use cannabis at the same rate. The war on drugs that we all grew up with was an invention of President Richard Nixon, not based on facts, but on his personal whim. It’s come to light that he moved cannabis to schedule 1 status to repress young war protesters and black people.

Consider this quote from John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic policy advisor speaking to reporter Dan Baum in Harper’s magazine, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”

How about that 10-ounce possession cap that has taken a few people by surprise?

Cannabis flower is light in weight, and 10 ounces is a lot of product, more than 200 joints depending on how you roll. Critics of the law say that’s too much. But, consider this: there’s no limit to the amount of beer, liquor, or wine you can have in your home, right? If you want a wine cellar with 200 bottles, a well-stocked bar, or a keg of beer in your home, it’s your right as an adult to do that. We need to think about cannabis that way, too. Just because you have you ten ounces, doesn’t mean you’re just sitting around consuming it all at once. Marijuana keeps well in a cool, dark, dry place, just like wine.

Cannabis Legalization in Michigan = Economic Gains.

Cannabis legalization in Michigan brings opportunities for businesses and jobs here and not just selling the plant. Because public consumption (smoking or vaping) isn’t allowed — not on the street, in a place of business, or in your personal vehicle — there should be opportunities for people to create private or membership-style spaces for consumption.

Popular in already-legal states are bud and breakfast accommodations, outdoor patios where people can consume, places for puff n paint events, party buses where people can consume while taking tours of growing operations and provisioning centers. In Colorado, Amsterdam-style coffee shops are popping up. In Aspen, Colorado, cannabis sales outpaced alcohol in 2017. Much of the potential cannabis tourism will be dependent on how Michigan’s legislature digs into the specifics of the law.

Marijuana activists still have work to do post-Prop 1. People need to stay in contact with or begin conversations with elected officials about how the law will be implemented. It’s likely that the legislature will attempt to over-regulate cannabis where it is able to do so. On the local level, we need to watch our city, village, or township meeting agendas for opt-in discussions. Just over 100 municipalities in Michigan are open to medical marijuana businesses at present, and many municipalities were waiting to see if legalization passed. The marijuana opposition has stated that its next effort is to stop opt-ins in communities. If you want to see Prop 1 enacted in your community, you’ll continue to need to make your voice heard. We need to work together, too, for expungement of prior marijuana arrest records and for the release of those serving time for minor marijuana crimes.

By the time of the next election, we’ll have lived with recreational cannabis in Michigan for about a year. There will be some speed bumps and rough patches, I’m sure. But like the West and East coast states that have already blazed the trail, the sky will not fall and Michigan citizens will see the benefit of new businesses, jobs, and taxes, not to mention the easy pleasure of marijuana consumption.

a green cannabis plant

Let’s Think About Marijuana as Medicine

About once a week or so we’ll have a conversation with a person who has tried cannabis and says something like this: I tried it once and I got so high, it was awful. Or I tried it, and it didn’t work for me. We understand this, but we implore you to consider some ideas and marijuana as medicine.

Think about cold medicines. Over the years you’ve learned what works best for you, with trial and error and by testing liquids, sprays, pills and capsules. You know what makes you feel right and relieves your symptoms. If you take prescription medicine, you might have had a similar experience trying to find something that works perfectly. It’s not an uncommon experience to try a few things before you achieve the best results.

Think about marijuana more traditionally.

Here are a few things to consider when trying marijuana as medicine for the first time or trying it again after a period of time.

Read up on dosage.
This is especially important with edibles. In Michigan, marijuana medicine products are created and packaged in different dosages. For instance, a package of gummies might have a total THC measure of 100mg and each medical marijuana ediblespiece is 10 mg, which is easy to understand. A trail bar might have 80 mg, which you need to cut into right size pieces. With something crumbly, this can be a challenge. Err on the side of caution and try a smaller portion as opposed to larger. If you’ve never consumed edibles, test a piece that is 5 mg or even less. Do not eat any more until 90 minutes have passed since your first bite.photo of a clock, take time for marijuana as medicine to work

Wait and see.
photo of a clock, take time for marijuana as medicine to workWith any kind of medicine you take, cannabis or traditional it’s important to give the compounds time to take effect. With inhaled marijuana, you’ll feel the effect within a few minutes and it’ll increase as time goes on, then arc and fade away. With edible cannabis, it can take up to an hour for you to feel the effect and if you’ve ingested too much, you’ll know it and feel it longer than if you’d consumed a concentrate or flower.

Study the strains.
When purchasing marijuana as medicine, study the strain and the properties it claims to have. One of the most popular resources for this information is Leafly where you can explore strains that are most likely to help with your condition, be it depression, pain, stomach pain or anxiety. This piece in Medical NewsToday, written by a pharmacist is helpful, too.
Indica strains are more calming and have a heavier or relaxing feel. They’re commonly used for pain.image of cannabis flowers and three joints for when marijuana is medicine
Sativa strains are more uplifting and good for people dealing people dealing with low moods or needing an energy boost.
Hybrids have some properties of both and are worth exploring.

While it isn’t always easy to discuss marijuana as medicine with your health care provider, it is advisable to do so. Other strain advice can be found by talking with your cannabis caregiver, other patients and with people at the provisioning center. Remember, strain advice isn’t medical advice.

Start small.
Whether you’re consuming with a vape pen, smoking flower or eating a brownie, it’s incredibly important to start small and don’t use alcohol when you’re testing. With a vape pen, one puff will do and don’t pull too hard! Wait a few minutes to see how you feel, then wait for a few more. If you’re sitting, walk around and see how you feel. Repeat if needed, considering your symptoms and how you are feeling.

Know your body.
With any remedy, plant-based or not, be aware that the desired results are not instant. It takes time for the body to absorb and process medicine, the effect could be immediate, or it might take days and several doses. The body’s endocannabinoid system is where cannabis finds receptors that help improve specific conditions and balances the body. The endocannabinoid system is located throughout the body and regulates many vital organs and some areas like the neurological centers are susceptible to cannabis and react more quickly.

Keep experimenting.
Remember the cold pills we talked about at the start and how the same thing doesn’t work for everyone? Finding the dose, delivery system and strain of cannabis that works for you takes research. You’ll want to talk with other patients/consumers and possibly with a cannabis physician, nurse or educator.

CBD and THC are partners.
There’s a lot of talk about CBD (cannabidiol) and there are many CBD products with barely detectable amounts of THC, the plant works best on illnesses or issues where there are complimentary balances of both chemicals. It doesn’t take a lot of THC to be effective, but some will act with the CBD to bring better results. Keep in mind, too, the more you ingest small amounts of THC, the more your body and mind will become accustomed to it and the heady feeling of being high will become less noticeable.

marijuana legalization in Michigan is approved by voters cannabis flowers like this one pictured will be legal to purchase by people 21 and older

Marijuana Legalization in Michigan: Our FAQs

Because we work in the marijuana business, we get frequent questions from people about what marijuana legalization in Michigan. Here are our thoughts and some data on the topic.

What is on the ballot?
Proposition 1 is a citizen-driven ballot initiative to end cannabis prohibition in Michigan. If you vote yes, it means you want marijuana to be able to be sold to adults 21 and older in Michigan. If you vote no, Michigan will remain a medical-only state.

Why are you supportive of the proposal for marijuana legalization in Michigan?
First, because adults can make decisions for themselves about what they put in their bodies, be it supersized soft drinks, whiskey, craft beer or tobacco or asparagus. We are able to make those decisions for ourselves and we should be able to do that.
Second, the prohibition of cannabis hasn’t worked. It created a large black market that exists to this day. People who don’t have a medical marijuana card can still buy marijuana, and even before medical marijuana became legal 10 years ago, it was always easy to find. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol and it isn’t working with marijuana, either.
Third, the criminalization of marijuana unfairly targets people of color—as it has since Richard Nixon assigned it to schedule 1 in the 1970s. People of color are arrested at a rate 8 times higher than white people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. According to the ACLU, states spend about $3.6 billion each year enforcing marijuana laws. Nationally, more arrests are made for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined.

What will Michigan look like after Prop 1, if it is passed?
In additions to pretty beaches, tourists soon might be able to visit Michigan for legal marijuanaSince communities can opt-in or out for medical marijuana, a similar policy applies to recreational marijuana legalization in Michigan. But communities will need to opt out. There won’t be provisioning centers in every community—only where zoning has been approved. We’ll probably see a bump in tourism—Michigan will be the first Midwestern state that is legal and there are lots of people who live close to Michigan. Expect that people will come for skiing, beaches, colorful leaves, fudge and cannabis. Under the new law, there will be small boutique growers, which is great for entrepreneurs. This ensures there will be a place for small marijuana businesses in Michigan. Cannabis microbusinesses will be small businesses licensed to grow up to 150 marijuana plants and process, package, and sell marijuana to consumers.

Can the legislature change anything that is passed?
No, that opportunity passed the legislature earlier this year. The proposal, which is about four pages long, stands as the law. We expect though, that how it is regulated will be where the government will step in and make rules.

Marijuana will still be illegal federally. How does that affect business in Michigan is this is passed?
It will still remain an illegal federal substance, so you can’t mail it or take it across state lines. Businesses will struggle with banking, taxes and standard business deductions, which are not allowed.

Will this increase the amount of driving while high?
It is illegal to drive high, as it is illegal to drive drunk. Some people will do it regardless of the law.

Will marijuana legalization increase drug use of other kinds?
The gateway theory has been well refuted and if you’re inclined to try other drugs, you won’t find them in a marijuana dispensary. That’s a black market issue.

Is marijuana addictive?
It has not been clinically proven to be addictive. It can be overused, like anything that gives a human being pleasure. Unlike alcohol or tobacco, it can’t an edible marijuana cookie bar, it will be legal for all adults if Michigan legalizes marijuanakill you. There are no known cases of cannabis overdoses. Overusing it—usually happens when people overconsume edible cannabis. The effect of edibles is slow to be felt and people tend to take a few extra bites and then, BOOM, an uncomfortable feeling comes on. But it won’t kill you. You might think you are dying, but you won’t be.

Can people be fired from a job for using marijuana if the drug is legal?
Yes. Company personnel policies supersede the law when it comes to drug use. If your workplace prohibits it don’t do it. This also applies to medical marijuana patients.

How much taxes will be collected?
Ten percent of all sales in an excise tax and the Michigan sales tax of six percent will be collected. It’s estimated $100-200 million will be raised and while much of it will be used for PTSD and veteran health research, schools, roads and in communities with marijuana businesses.

How much marijuana can a person legally have?
This proposal, if passed will make possession of up to ten ounces legally. You still can’t drive under the influence or use it on the street, on a beach or in any public place. People 21 and older can grow up to 12 plants in their home without running afoul of the law.

Can we learn anything from other states that have legalized?
It isn’t an easy road for any state to implement this kind of a sweeping change and citizens should expect that it will take 18 months to two years to happen. It will still be highly regulated under the rules that guide Michigan’s medical marijuana businesses at present. Those rules demand 24/7 surveillance/security of growing and provisioning stores, seed to sale tracking, secure transport of cannabis and products and identification and proof of age to purchase.

If you care about marijuana legalization in Michigan it is important that you vote on November 6.

A Michigan Medical Marijuana card

How to Secure Your Michigan Medical Marijuana Card

So you have a health condition that’s bothering you and you’ve read about medical marijuana as a solution. It seems like something you want to try, but getting started isn’t obvious. With 11 new conditions in Michigan that qualify patients for a medical marijuana card, there’s no better time to give it a try.

If you want a Michigan Medical Marijuana card, here are eight things you need to do or keep in mind.

  1.     Review the list of conditions. You’ll need a diagnosis that meets the criteria that Michigan has approved. While some are very specific, pain is more general and it’s the most common ailment on the application form according to the State of Michigan.allowable conditions in Michigan for a medical marijuana card
  2.     Download and print the paperwork from LARA, the state licensing board.
  3.     Make an appointment with your physician. One of two things will happen next. You’ll go to your doctor and s/he will sign the paperwork and you’ll write the check for the filing fee ($60) and you’ll wait about three weeks and your card will come in the mail if you’re approved. A more common scenario is you’re reluctant to tell your physician you want to try medical marijuana or if you do ask, s/he refuses to sign the paperwork. There are other options, including physicians that are cannabis advocates who work in clinics that do this work for the good of the cannabis community. You’ll meet with her/him for a short examination and they’ll confirm your diagnosis and sign the paperwork for you. If you have access to any extras—xray results, physician notes, physical therapy notes bring those along. You need to show that you have the condition you claim to have. Some clinics will send it in for you, too, but we recommend you do this yourself so you know when it was mailed. Finding a clinic is as easy as web searching for Michigan Medical Marijuana card +your location.
  4.     You’ll be asked on the form about a caregiver. This is an individual who grows cannabis for patients. If you don’t have one, don’t check the box. Check the box that says I will possess the plants. That doesn’t mean you have to start growing, but you could if you wanted to. With your card that says NO CAREGIVER on the back, you’ll need A Michigan Medical Marijuana cardto visit a provisioning center for your meds. You can find one close to you on Leafly or Weedmaps. We have a blog post about how to visit a provisioning center.
  5.     Your card is good mostly in Michigan. There are a few states that allow reciprocity, but not many. The recreational states are, of course, open to anyone. But if you’re in Florida, you can’t use your Michigan card there. In Michigan though, medical cards from other states are allowed in some, but not all provisioning centers. Call ahead to make sure.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as a holder of a new medical marijuana card.

 

  1.     If you’re traveling, keep in mind it’s a felony to bring cannabis across state lines. So, you have to leave your medication behind. The safest solution is to enjoy some of America’s recreational legal states map of colorado where they have both recreational and medical marijuana(Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia) until the whole country ends prohibition You can also head to Canada for a nice vacation, the whole country will be recreational legal starting on October 17, 2018. This also applies to people flying. While the TSA isn’t looking for cannabis, it is still illegal to bring it across state lines.
  2.     If you’re traveling around Michigan, keep your cannabis is the trunk of your car. Better yet, put it in a locked box in your trunk. Never leave it out in plain sight on the seat next to you. 
  3.     You can’t consume (smoke) your medication in a public place, in your car or in a hotel/motel. That’s limiting for sure. Edibles are super handy for travel or find friends who don’t mind if you consume.
marijuana as medicine on s scale at a provisioning center

Look Like a Pro at the Marijuana Provisioning Center

You did it! You took the bold step and got your Michigan Medical Marijuana card. Congratulations. Now, what do you do? Most physicians don’t talk about that; some places will guide you, but for the most part, you are on your own to figure it out. We’re here to help.

Here are some tips to help build your confidence at the medical marijuana provisioning center.

  1. First off, you don’t have to go to a provisioning center, you can choose to work with an individual caregiver. Finding a photograph of marijuana flowers grown by a caregiver in Michigancaregiver isn’t as easy as walking into a provisioning center though. In all likelihood, you’ll need to know someone who grows cannabis and is accepting patients. If you don’t know someone, you’ll need to ask around. In Michigan, caregivers are limited to 5 patients so it can be challenging to find someone who is accepting patients. You’ll want to see their plants, as about their growing processes and talk with them about the strains you can buy from them. You’ll want a caregiver who grows and processes what you need. If you go the provisioning center route, below are some tips so you can look like you’ve been doing it for years.
  2. Be prepared. You’ll need your card, photo ID and cash. Expect security at the door of most places, sometimes it’s a camera system, others have a guard and others have a thick plexiglass window like the cable TV office. It can be intimidating, but your security is as important as the product they’re protecting. In most cases, you’ll be buzzed in and at that point, you get your ID and card back. The waiting areas range from comfy-cozy to spartan. Most have a TV and a few magazines, at the least. Many marijuana provisioning centers have ATMs, too.
  3. Do your research before you go. Both Leafly or WeedMaps are great resources for researching strains and getting information. Ask your friends about strains and products that they love. It’s good to have an idea of what you want, or think you want when you go into a provisioning center. You don’t want to be sold something that doesn’t help your condition. Read a few of the reviews and see if anything people are saying resonates with you.
  4. Not all stores are alike and you need to find a place you’re comfortable. Some carry a wide variety of products, others are very industrial, some just carry flower (the term for dried marijuana) offer chalkboard in a marijuana provisioning centerfew choices in edibles or tinctures or CBD products. You need to find a place that fits your needs, personality and buying style. Most marijuana provisioning centers post menus on Leafly or Weedmaps and from that, you can determine what you want to try. 
  5. Talk with the budtender at your counter. They should be able to talk with you about the health condition you are treating, the strains they have available and your preference for consumption. Feel free to ask questions and if they don’t know, ask if someone else knows. If they seem uneducated or a bad fit for you, feel free to leave. You aren’t obliged to buy anything.
  6. Expect your purchasing experience to be semi-private. After you clear security or the check-in area, you SHOULD be at a one on one space with your budtender, it’s likely there will be two or three counters in one open room and you should have one counter and one budtender to yourself. The counters all have the same products, so don’t be worried that you’re not getting something that someone else is. If you see something behind the counter that catches your eye, ask to see it. All of the products are going to be out of reach.
  7. You can ask to smell the cannabis flower which is usually in sealed glass containers. Ask the budtender if it’s ok, they’ll open the jar and let you smell it. Just don’t touch, it’s medicine and shouldn’t be contaminated with hand germs!three jars full of cannabis flower at a marijuana provisioning center
  8. You can buy just a tiny bit of flower if you want to try it out. Ask for a gram, that’s enough for a few joints (depending on how you roll) and it will give you an idea of what you’re getting and the effect. Cannabis is priced starting in grams and up to an ounce and the Budtender can tell you the prices, or it’ll be posted. Look for and ask about specials and other items that are available.
  9. Put your purchases in the trunk of your car after you leave the provisioning center. If you have a small lockbox, bring it for transporting. It’s a good practice.
  10. When you’re done, review your experience and tell others how it worked for you. It’s one way to give back to the cannabis community and to help the marijuana provisioning center improve their customer service and educate others.
pretty cannabis packaging on some chocolate

Be Amazing Inside and Out: Why Cannabis Packaging Matters

There’s nothing more appealing to a consumer than good packaging and fair pricing. Either by accident or intention, cannabis packaging in Michigan tends to fall short of that standard. We’ve seen bad knockoffs of popular candy brands, in both name and design and kid-friendly graphics. If the cannabis industry wants to be taken seriously, we need to present ourselves in a mature manner and product packaging and branding should reflect that.

When Michigan’s licensing entity LARA sent out guidelines recently about cannabis packaging, we were pleased to see that they are serious about making packaging unappealing to children.

Their cannabis packaging rules state:

No edible marihuana product can be in a shape, color, package, or labeled in a manner that it would appeal to minors aged 17 years or younger.

just say no to bad cannabis packaging like this lollipop
An orange lollipop with 35mg of THC.
an orange lollipop without childproof cannabis packaging
Easy to open by a kid or an adult.

No edible marihuana product can be associated with or have cartoons, caricatures, toys, colors, designs, shapes, labels, or package that would appeal to minors.

No edible marihuana product can be easily confused with commercially sold candy. The use of the word candy or candies on the packaging or labeling is prohibited.

An edible marihuana product must be in child-resistant packages or containers.

In Michigan cannabis is still medicine and is sold to adults (or to an adult for a card-holding minor). It needs packaging that acknowledges this but also remains appealing. Think about the over-the-counter drugs you might buy or herbal supplements. Those products have packaging that is professional, serious and not appealing to kids.

some child proof cannabis packagingCannabis edibles are an upscale product, they’re not inexpensive to purchase and the packaging should reflect the quality of the product contained inside. That’s not to say it has to be expensive or over-packaged, but it does need to be thoughtful in its presentation. People make decisions in a provisioning center based on several factors including price, a word of mouth recommendation, advice from the budtender behind the counter and the appearance of a package.

Studies show that the time slot in which a shelved product can capture the attention of a consumer is very short, one to two seconds. This is why it’s so important for cannabis packaging to be well-designed. You just don’t have that long to get someone’s attention.

good cannabis packaging from Northern LightsToday, brands across every sector are facing an increasingly competitive landscape and an increasingly sophisticated consumer. People tend to disregard mass brand communications in favor of more personalized messaging mediums. Packaging has the power to connect with the consumer to communicate a brand’s message on a physical and individual level.

How many times have you purchased a bottle of wine solely on your attraction to the label? Cannabis products should be thought of similarly. 

Smart packaging design is effective because, more than any other medium, it stays true to the product. It’s the main interface between a brand and consumer. Packaging conveys a host of messages that appeal to different consumers—both young and older, through elements of design such as naming, color, typography, graphics, structure and texture. We think Willie’s Reserve does this right.

cannabis packaging gone wrong, it's too attractive to kidsAn experienced designer can look at the product and create packaging that is sophisticated, appealing and true to the product inside. There’s really no reason that cartoons, colors and childish fonts need to be used in cannabis products. 

Packaging is part of a cannabis brand and being consistent is important.

Branding is one of the most important aspects of your cannabis business—whether you’re large, small, retail or business to business. Your brand is not just a logo, website, corporate identity or marketing collateral. It is your company’s personality. It’s your confidence, passion, action, voice, and set of values that make your company unique. Your brand needs to resonate with audiences in an emotive way. 

Quality cannabis packaging is a necessity.

Packaging design for the cannabis industry needs to be more than simply slapping a pot leaf or joint on a box. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to catch the consumer’s eye as the cannabis marketplace continues to evolve and competition grows.

If you need ideas or assistance with packaging design, Canna Communication can help. We understand the new Michigan rules and we know the art of packaging design.

a party horn with cannabis leaves, for when we will celebrate recreational marijuana legalization in Michigan

Recreational Marijuana in Michigan, Check the Facts.

After months of waiting for petition approval and possible pre-empting by the legislature, recreational marijuana will be on the ballot in Michigan this November.

There’s already plenty of discussion on the topic and as we head to the mid-term elections, it’ll heat up. When Michigan voters approve this measure (and it’s looking promising) we will be the 11th state (plus D.C) to have recreational marijuana. In addition to job creation, recreational marijuana will bring significant tax revenue to the state. Recreational marijuana will be subject to a 10 percent excise tax, on top of our 6 percent sales tax. The money will be used for schools, road repairs and local municipality uses where businesses are located. In Colorado for the first five months of 2018, $109 million has been raised in tax revenue. Michigan has a larger population which gives it significant revenue potential. Neighboring states including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have significant close-by populations that will contribute to our income.

We’re voting yes on the recreational marijuana proposal.

It’s important for you to be ready with facts to build a case for those on the fence. It’s important to be able to talk about why ending cannabis prohibition is good for our state and to understand the changes that will occur if approved.

Michigan’s recreational marijuana ballot initiative is complex and has a lot of interesting nuances. It’s based on the best of what the authors and lawyers could find in other recreational legal states. You can read the whole proposal on the Coalition to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol website.

We made a little video the goes over some of the key points of the recreational marijuana initiative and where people’s concerns might be. Canna Communication will be blogging about this for the next few months. Come back for more information.

 

 

a young man who is using cannabis for sleep

Wide Awake at Night? Using Cannabis for Sleep Might Help.

We know a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health. Without sleep, our emotional and physical well-being decline. There’s evidence that cannabis can help with sleep.

If things are going well, we spend 1/3 of our day at rest, but when we’re overly busy or unable to unwind, that amount can be much less. There are a variety of factors that interfere with good sleep: an overactive mind, too much light, our electronic devices, caffeine, alcohol, noise, overstimulation and physical issues like pain. If you’re reading this blog, you probably have struggled with good sleep.

In Michigan, cannabis can’t be prescribed for sleep specifically, so while you might use cannabis for your pain or another issue, it could help with sleep, too.

We have to preface this blog with this: there hasn’t been enough research on cannabis on sleep. Because cannabis is federally illegal—the institutions that conduct sleep research can’t do that work because of federal funding. Please discuss your cannabis use with your physician, too. This blog is for information only.

If you want to try cannabis to help with sleep issues you need to first focus on your sleep hygiene. Some traits of good sleep hygiene are mentioned a comfy looking bed, where someone might consume cannabis for sleepabove and theoretically, they should help you sleep. If you’re like 30 percent of all Americans and you’re still sleepless, that’s when you probably have turned to sleep medications or herbal supplements. About 4 percent of all American take a prescription sleep aid and those pills have side effects and issues with overuse, as well as rebound insomnia when discontinued. Plant-based medicines tend to be gentler and don’t have the same harsh side effects of synthetic drugs.

Cannabis For Sleep 101.

There are three properties of cannabis that are involved in improving sleep: THC, CBD and terpenes. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis; CBD is non-psychoactive has a calming effect and can be used to counter THC in cannabis and terpenes are the part of cannabis that gives it a distinctive smell like pine, lemon or cheese. Aromatherapy is often used to help with sleep, essential oils like lavender are known to help relax people. The terpenes in cannabis can help do the same thing, but you ingest it, rather than smell it. You can learn more about terpenes profiles and strains here. Together THC, CBD and the right terpenes have a relaxing effect that can help induce better sleep.

Finding the Right Dosage is Crucial to Success.

We’re big fans of microdosing cannabis. It’s the best way to find out photo of tiny gummies made micodosing which can be used for sleepwhat works for you and to avoid some of the after-effects of consuming too much cannabis for sleep. Those effects can include dry mouth, red eyes and feeling groggy in the morning. Start small, one or two puffs if you’re smoking and if you’re using a tincture or an edible—try 5 mg to start and see how it works for you.

What’s the Right Strain?

There’s a lot of talk about sativa or indica and whether a strain really matters. In the case of choosing cannabis for sleep doing some research about strains will help you determine whether what you consume will help relax you or make your sleep issues worse.  Leafly has a great strain guide and your caregiver or budtender should be able to give you some direction, too. Keep in mind, indica tends to be more relaxing than sativa, and a hybrid for sleep should be indica dominant.

Smoking vs. Edibles.

We tend to favor edibles for sleep only because of their long-lasting power. While an edible will take longer to take effect, it stays with you longer, too. You’ll want to consume your edible about 90 minutes before you hit the bed so the relaxing properties are working. If you choose to smoke, you can do that right before you brush your teeth and hop between the sheets and don’t smoke in bed!

It Might Help with Sleep Apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition where the sleeper has frequent obstructions of breathing that can last from a few seconds to several minutes. Sleep apnea causes a person to wake up throughout the night and disturbs the sleep cycle. Some people stop breathing up to 30 times in an hour. People with sleep apnea are prone to headaches, daytime drowsiness and irritability. There has been limited research on using cannabis to help with sleep apnea—a small study with 17 people showed promise, but it’s not enough participants to give us faith in its result. What researchers are learning, though, is that THC can help restore breathing stability with serotonin signals to the brain.

Love Your Dreams?
You Might Miss Them if You’re Trying Cannabis for Sleep.

sheep sleeping in a meadow, they don't use cannabis for sleep!One of the biggest complaints people have about using cannabis for sleep is that interferes with dreams. Dreams happen in the REM cycle of sleep, which is the last cycle of sleep during the night and we know cannabis interferes with that process. Cannabis that is high in CBD and lower in THC might help restore some of your REM dream sleep and help you relax more.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping in the past, then you know that experimentation is key to getting it right and cannabis for sleep is much the same.

reading glasses and some content for a new marijuana business that might need a cannabis investor

How to Win Over a Cannabis Investor: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know

You’ve got your cannabis startup going: the license is in process, your business plan completed, marketing plan written, site plan done, security and operations are all there. Things are looking good, except for the money part. You need a cannabis investor or two to help make it happen.

Before You’re Ready to go to The Dance, Make Sure You Know The Steps.

We talked with Eric Seifert about the relationship between investors and cannabis entrepreneurs and what startups need to know when seeking an investment partner.

eric siefert connects cannabis entrepreneur with cannabis investorsEric has been working with investors and startups outside of cannabis for a decade at the Michigan SBDC and since leaving the SBDC has been helping bridge the funding gap in the cannabis space. His company, Left Coast Capital works with investors looking for solid businesses, in cannabis and other businesses as well. Here are ten things Eric says cannabis entrepreneurs need to know before opening themselves up to an investor.

1)   If you know how to grow marijuana, but don’t know much about business, find a partner who does. “Investors look for business sense and experience.” Having a passion for cannabis goes a long way, but so does the idea that you will succeed in business. “If you need to, bring in someone to help your business, to supplement what you really don’t know or what you recognize as a weakness. Show how you can mitigate that.”  You need a solid business plan and it’s smart to give an investor several scenarios for outcomes—one that’s modest, another that shows what you believe to be reasonable growth and another that blows the roof off of all expectations of how the business will grow if things go well.

2)   One of the hardest parts for cannabis entrepreneurs is that they don’t have the kind of documentation that other businesses might have as proof of prior success. “Even a caregiver can show what they’ve done already and how they’ve tracked income and expenses. When you’re scaling up a business, you need to point to your past success, even if it is just a year or two.”

3)   Find great legal and accounting representation. “Compliance is going to be a major issue, if you successfully launch, but then are audited and shut down, that will make for a dissatisfied investor. You need to have your attorney draw up investment documents that protect you.”

4)   You’ll want to work with an accredited investor, someone who can produce a signed affidavit that they have at least $1 million in net worth, an annual income of at least $200,000. It documents that they are an SEC accredited investor.

What a Cannabis Investor Wants From You

5)   Every potential cannabis investor is looking for one thing: making more money than they might in the market. “In your business plan and pitch deck, you need to be able to show profits that are greater than the stock market.” Investors want to get their money back in about 3-4 years and they’ll want a portion of the profits beyond the investment. “They want a big return because they’re taking on so much risk.”

6)   Most cannabis investors want something beyond a return on their investment, and you should expect they would negotiate a percentage ownership of your company for the long or short term. “Investors tend to like hard assets, so the first lien on your building might be an option. If there’s a failure, the investor has something to sell to recoup their losses.”

Show the Investor Your Passion for Cannabis

7)   The entrepreneur, rather than the cannabis industry is where an investor will focus his or her attention. “Investors look for people who are in business for something bigger than making money.” They want to see a passion for the medicinal value of the plant, either personally or for a family member, so make sure you have a relatable story.

cannabis investors want to know how you'll handle money, this is an image of a lot of money8)   You must be able to talk about how you’re going to handle cash and mitigate the risk involved with it. “Investors want to know that their investment won’t be lost at gunpoint. Know what you’re doing to handle cash and security.”

9)    Create a great pitch deck and practice your presentation. “No more than 20 minutes from start to finish, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A.” Investors don’t need to hear every detail about your business—don’t drown people in details until they ask for them.” Investors who want more will ask for it. Stick to the regional view when you’re pitching—don’t worry about national picture yet. “Until cannabis is legal across the U.S. there’s not much point in spending time talking about it. You need to get the investor’s attention, high-level summary information.”

10)  Don’t underestimate your knowledge and skill in the cannabis marketplace. “You need to show passion and expertise for the industry.  It’s an 8 or 9 on the scale of importance.”