scrabble tiles that say take more photos: for your cannabis business website

Making Content for Your Cannabis Business Website

You’ve heard this before: Content Rules.

New and searchable content is what makes the Internet hum. Fresh content helps improve traffic on your cannabis business website, drives sales and makes your business relevant to search engines.

Content is made up of text, images, video and audio that live on your website.a laptop used to create content for a cannabis business website

When properly optimized for search engines content is more easily findable by people looking for something specific. We won’t get into search engine optimization in this blog, but this video by Neil Patel is pretty useful for getting some basics about why you need to pay attention to this and what to do.

When you plan content creation for your cannabis business website, it needs to accomplish a few of these things. The more of these ideas you can include, the richer your content will be.

  • Educational—tell people something they might not know
  • Compelling—write or show the topic in a way that keeps people’s attention
  • Useful—give practical advice or a “how to” to the reader or viewer
  • Focused—stick to what you know and what your business is about
  • Quality—if you’re writing, make sure your grammar is correct and if you’re making a video, the audio and picture need to be good, too.
  • Relevant—produce content about something that’s happening now
  • Entertaining—use humor and visuals that make your content fun (when appropriate)
  • New—put a new spin on what you’re writing about and try to make it fresh for your web visitors.
  • If possible, make it personal and always be aware of your brand voice.

Creating content takes time and effort. Whether you’re making a video, writing a blog or creating a podcast, you need to do a few things before you jump in.

  • Think about and plan out what you want people to learn or know—what’s the core message? Are there other details and secondary messages that support what you’re saying?
  • Make sure you have enough knowledge and expertise to say or write at least 400 words or create a 90-second video. There will be some topics that come naturally to you and others you’ll struggle to complete.
  • Think visually. How can you show and tell your story? Are there images or video you want to include?
  • Don’t plagiarize! Make sure what you write or say is original to you. Yes, you can read another author’s articles for ideas, validation or outbound links, but don’t steal someone else’s words or images.
  • Create content in small chunks that people can easily skim. Like we did here.
  • Think about the questions people ask about your business or products and use those to generate your content. For instance, we had someone on Linked In ask us about how to get a medical marijuana card in Michigan. While it wasn’t communication-related, we could see there was a need to share this information.

Every cannabis business website has some easy wins for content that are necessary. Team or leadership biographies and a robust about us section are essential. People like to see and know about who is behind the product or service they are using. It’s also a great place to share your brand personality and voice. Keep in mind the “why” of your business and use that for content, too. The reason you started growing, processing, testing, transporting or provisioning cannabis is something people like to know. If it’s personal, let that shine.photo of people who might be featured on a cannabis business website

It’s important to create content that moves your cannabis business forward and looks to bring people to you for your expertise in cannabis.

When appropriate use a call to action like this: for help creating content give us a nudge. We’d be happy to work with you.

Cannabis Business and Communication: Focus on What You Know

I’m a pretty good backyard gardener. I grow heirloom tomatoes from seeds, we built a little greenhouse to better acclimate the seedlings to Michigan’s weather and to have fruit in early July instead of August. I use good organic soil and nutrients and I’ve heard that growing cannabis is like growing tomatoes.

But, I don’t grow cannabis and here’s why.

It’s a complex plant that needs a lot of ongoing attention to produce a high-quality flower. It needs light and then at the right time it needs darkness. It a green cannabis plant, cannabis communication is essential to business successneeds circulated air, specific food at certain times. You don’t want it to cross-pollinate with other plants and it’s vulnerable to a variety of issues that can ruin it. Killing a plant that is as valuable as cannabis is a mistake no grower wants to make. Growers also don’t want to create a sub-par flower. That’s a lot of pressure!

Good growers follow a plan and have developed a process that ensures success. It’s the same for cannabis business communication.

And that’s why when it comes to communication—your website and its content, social media, media-related publicity and stories, your brand, special events and your marketing you need an expert.

Not your nephew. Not your kid. Not you. Unless you (or they) are an experienced cannabis communication professional.

Here’s why it’s important to work with someone in communication who has a level of expertise that meets your needs. Communication isn’t just one thing. It’s an integrated system of strategic activities that need attention, innovative ideas and message continuity.

Think about the brands/companies you respect and how they are steady in their personality. Sure, some changes happen in a brand, but overall the best companies display the same attributes and keep the same character. For instance, Target is fresh, fun and playful. It is inclusive and emotional in its voice. Nike is bold and strong. It believes that all people are athletes and when it takes a stand it means something.

While these companies are probably not your cannabis company right now, it could be you in the future. That’s why developing your brand personality is vital. It’s part of why consistent and strategic communication is essential in the early stages of your business development matters. You don’t want to have to undo something that doesn’t fit the business you’ve carefully developed.

As you are aware, mistakes and missteps go viral and can destroy a company’s reputation, so it’s crucial that you consider your communication efforts carefully. Communication must be regarded as thoughtfully as your plant selection, growing methods, the creation of your edibles and the people that you hire. Don’t take the risk of allowing communication to be in the backseat of the overall strategy of your cannabis business.

One of our clients is a law firm that cares about its brand and is active in its communication pursuits. The attorneys don’t spend time on social media posting or concerning themselves with media exposure, that’s left to the professionals (us). They provide expert legal advice for marijuana businesses. We offer the firm advice and counsel on their messages and media relations and manage the day to day communication. They utilize Canna Communication’s input and ideas in the same way their legal clients turn to them for help.

The question need to consider is: do you have the time, interest and expertise to manage the daily communication needs of your business? Or would you rather be in with the plants, your employees and your customers?  

Let us help manage the details of your brand communication while you grow your business.

photo to illustrate cannabis communication

Blaze 2019 With These Cannabis Communication Resolutions

As a new year comes into view, it’s time to think about your cannabis communication and what you want to accomplish in 2019. We have a few ideas to share with you. These are activities that Canna Communication is doing this year, so join us and let’s be better cannabis communicators together.

Create a communication plan or at least make a calendar.

There’s no better time than a new year to think and plan ahead. A communication plan will help you do some creative thinking about your work, give you a map to follow and focus your efforts. A cannabis communication plan has several steps.

  1. Start by defining the audience—who do you want to communicate with? Try to think as precisely as possible and there might be multiple audiences throughout the year.
  2. Set a goal (or several) that answer the question: what do you want to accomplish? How will you know if you’re successful in your effort?
  3. Define your strategy, the overarching idea(s) by which you’ll accomplish the work to be done.
  4. And now for the fun part! Develop the tactics and a timeline. Tactics are individual communication activities that fit with all the components above. Tactics might include media outreach, content creation, social media, special events, videos, advertising, sponsorships, blogging, e-newsletters and printed pieces. It’s best to determine your tactics after you’ve done 1-3 above.

Amplify your messages.

Amplification is the name of the game and the more people that can hear your message, the more successful you’re likely to be.

Connecting with the media is the best thing you can do to make that happen. Unless you’re a major celebrity or public figure with social media followers inmicrophone to illustrate amplification of cannabis communication the millions, you can’t beat the mainstream media for getting your message to people.

The first step in making that happen is to establish a relationship with local reporters. The good thing is, you’re in cannabis and that’s interesting to most media people. Especially as you grow your business, are approved for a license or get ready to open. You have the opportunity to show a reporter what you’re all about.  

If you have something visual—a growing operation, a new provisioning center or a fleet of trucks—invite the local media to see what you’ve got and tell them what you’re doing. You can reach out to the press most easily by emailing a reporter who has covered cannabis in the past and pitch your story to them.

And don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a bite on the first or second try—sometimes it’s timing and other times it’s a pitch that’s not quite right. Think about what makes your story interesting or important—and refine that message and incorporate it into your subject line. Reporters spend about 11 seconds reading a pitch, so make it sharp and around 150 words.

Develop your expert voice.

Part of amplification is sharing your knowledge with the media and with your own audiences, too. The media wants high-quality spokespeople who know a subject in depth and can speak about it with confidence. Whether you are a grower, processor, an attorney or an advocate, be informed and enthusiastic about your area of cannabis expertise. Plan what you’re going to say, anticipate questions and practice your key points.

Keep up on the latest trends and activities in cannabis by tracking news and subscribing to reliable news sources and aggregation sites.

Be disciplined with content creation.

a typewriter to illustrate content creation for cannabis communicationContent creation is hard work, but it’s essential. Your website’s SEO and social media depend on new, original, relevant and fresh content—which can be blogs, videos or images. Ideally, you’ll create new content once a week, but that can be a struggle without ideas, a plan or professional help.

Try to create something new every two weeks, not only will you have something to make your website more robust—but you’ll have original content to share on your social sites.

Be social on your social media sites.

It’s annoying when you read something or make a comment on a social media site and the site owner doesn’t reply or even acknowledge your voice. Don’t be that company.

If you have a social media platform, use it to build engagement and community around your business. Ask questions of your followers and respond to comments and questions.

Yes, you’ll get trolls, and it’s okay to ignore or hide them. 

Explore and use a new medium.

This is a tough one—we tend to stick with what we know, like and are good at. Writers will always write; photographers will take pictures and videographers will make videos.

Spend time learning about and using a medium you’re unfamiliar with and work to be good at it. There are so many useful tools and tutorials available online that you can master (or at least fake mastery) with something new. Learning keeps our minds active and alive and helps your company connect with people who want to see things or learn in different ways.

If you have questions about our resolutions or anything about cannabis communication, give us a shout. And we hope you have a blazing new year!

new year words made with a light to illustrate cannabis communication

bowls for mixing a cannabis brownie

Chile Dark Chocolate Cannabis Brownies

chile chocolate cannabis brownies Here is an amazing and adaptable recipe for making cannabis brownies. It’s adaptable because if you don’t like dark chocolate or a spicy brownie you can remove the cayenne powder and substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips and instant coffee powder. But, trust me, the pop of spice really makes these great. It also tolerates a lot of stirring, which is good for getting the cannabis mixed throughout.

Ingredients:

12 TBS (stick and a half of butter)
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips (get the regular or small size chip)
½ cup of cocoa powder
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
¾ cup of granulated sugar
¾ of brown sugar
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of all purpose flour
¾ cup of dark chocolate chips
650 to 750 mg or RSO or distillate of cannabis (check the THC on the stinger)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pan size: 9×9 or if you have the odd 6×10 rectangle pan that will work, too.
  3. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and butter the bottom and the sides, too.
  4. Melt the butter and ½ cup of chips over LOW heat, stirring until blended. No bubbling allowed. Remove from heat and stir in the RSO or cannabis distillate. Stir and stir and stir. Add the cocoa powder and pepper, stir it some more.
  5. Pour this into a mixing bowl.
  6. Add the two sugars into the mix and stir it up.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time and stir after each addition. You cannot stir this enough!
  8. Stir in the vanilla and sprinkle the sea salt over the batter.
  9. Add the flour and stir it up some more. You cannot overstir this recipe, you want that cannabis to be in every little bite.
  10. Stir in the 3/4 cup of chocolate chips.
  11. Stir it up one last time.
  12. Spread the batter in your prepared pan. Lick the bowl, spatula and spoon. Pretty soon you won’t worry about the raw eggs.
  13. Put the pan of cannabis brownies in the fridge for 30 minutes, this will give you a very nice crackly top.
  14. Move the pan into the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes. Test with a toothpick, there should be some fudgy stuff on the toothpick, but not too much. And with chocolate chips in there, it’s a bit hard to tell. DO NOT INCREASE THE OVEN TEMP, but you can give it another 5 minutes of baking if needed.
  15. Allow the brownies to cool for a couple of hours. The chocolate chips need to return to a stable state for cutting, use a sharp serrated knife.

Now, for the math. 750 mg of cannabis is what you have in this pan. How much potency do you want your cannabis brownie bites to have? I like to chile chocolate cannabis browniesmake something that’s about 10 mg per bite, so with a 9×9 pan, you’ll want to cut something around 81 pieces, or 9 down and 9 across. Keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest.

Keep in mind that for the inexperienced cannabis consumer, 10mg is a lot, so if you’re sharing your cannabis brownies, ask them to eat just a half to start and wait about an hour before eating the other half.

celebrating cannabis in 2018 with a party horn

Cannabis in 2018, a Year That Made History!

As this year comes to a close, it’s essential (and fun) that we reflect on the history that was made and when it comes to cannabis in 2018, it was quite a year. Here’s our list of the most significant things that happened in cannabis in 2018.

Canada Implemented Marijuana Legalization in 2018
image of canadian prime minister justin trudeauIt’s one thing to go state by state, or province by province, but for a whole country to end prohibition—that’s amazing. Canada is only the second nation in the world with legal cannabis. Keep in mind if you go travel to Canada bringing marijuana back to the US is highly illegal.

Michigan Voted Yes For Legal Cannabis.
The mid-term election brought a solid win for Michigan’s cannabis advocates with 56 percent of voters marking the ballot for cannabis legalization. The election results were verified and on December 6, possession and home growing became two parts of the law that were quickly enacted. Sales to the public likely won’t begin until 2020.

Hemp Makes it to The President’s Desk
hemp plants which are about to become legal across the USFinally, after almost seven decades of being illegal, hemp, the non-psychoactive brother to marijuana will be legal to grow and process across the US. This is excellent news for CBD-makers and farmers wanting to grow the plant for industrial purposes. It’s a versatile plant that can be used for paper, building houses and oil.  The farm bill, which includes hemp was passed by the house and senate is now awaiting the President’s signature.

Expungement Moves Forward
One of the benefits of legalizing marijuana is the expungement of criminal records for people who were convicted of cannabis possession. Michigan’s governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer is planning taking action on it and the cities of Seattle and Oakland, CA have already started the process. In Oregon, California, Colorado and Maryland similar actions are taking place. A marijuana possession conviction can prevent someone from getting a job or other public benefits.

Goodbye, Jeff Sessions
The cannabis-hating Attorney General of the US was shown the door late in 2018, thankfully. After rescinding previous federal documents that discouraged law enforcement in cannabis legal states, his threats went nowhere and he was out of power before the year-end.  

Michigan Takes it Slow in Licensing
Michigan’s licensing of Medical Marijuana Businesses began in December and it’s been a hot slow mess for almost a year. It’s as if the folks at LARA never thought about supply chain, with provisioning centers, labs and transporters getting operating licenses before growers did, creating a SNAFU in the system. The upside is caregivers are now providing cannabis to patients, the downside is patients have to sign a waiver that the product might not be as pure as they expect from a regulated system. Further, the licensing board has been vague, uninformed and punitive in issuing licenses—using the moral conduct clause over and over to deny people a license for cannabis in 2018.

California Opens its Adult Markets
photo of the Hollywood sign in CaliforniaA little more than a year after Californians voted to legalize cannabis, the state opened its markets to adult-use cannabis on January 1, 2018. California is a big state, with the sixth largest economy in the world and projections are putting the industry at 5.1 billion dollars. It’s been a rough go though, with many communities opting out and regulations just now being finalized.

Cannabis as an Exit Drug
More research about opioid and cannabis was completed in 2018 and there’s increasing evidence that for pain, cannabis is a viable alternative. For people who are heavy opioid users or are addicted to painkillers, medical marijuana can help move them away from those drugs.

Survey Says 
Another Gallup poll in October this year showed that 2 in 3 Americans (66 percent) favor cannabis legalization. Gallup has been polling Americans about marijuana since 1969 and it has been trending upward since then and the last three years have shown the most significant increases. The research showed that Republicans and older adults are showing support—which isn’t a great surprise since Baby Boomers who came of age with marijuana are now older adults.

Facebook Gaslights Cannabis Businesses
Over the summer people in cannabis noticed that the search function in Facebook wasn’t working for any words related to cannabis or marijuana. Long established brands, businesses and support and advocacy groups were getting a page not found or no posts message. Despite outreach to the platform, the ban remained in place until just before October 17, the date Canada legalized cannabis.

Michigan Grandmother Arrested for Cannabis Possession
Legalization didn’t come fast enough for an 80-year-old woman from central Michigan who was popped at her home when police arrived to locate her great-granddaughter who had lost her wallet and phone. The officer smelled marijuana and asked to see her card when it was found to be expired she was arrested and jailed overnight. She was released the next day and charges were dropped. She had less than ⅛ ounce in her home.

It’s a been a remarkable year in cannabis and from Canna Communication we wish everyone happiness and success in 2019.

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.