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.

reefer madness poster perpetuates marijuana stereotypes

We’ll Help With Your Marijuana Marketing and Propaganda

Yes, marketing and propaganda. That’s what was written on the LARA checklist for applicants seeking a marijuana business license in Michigan. Under the Step 2: License Specific Application Checklist, Business Specifications there is a box to check: Copy of Marketing Plan (advertising, propaganda, etc).

Marketing plans, we’re all about creating those. Advertising, we’re pros at it. We’ll get the word out about your medical marijuana business.

But propaganda, etc. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

MMFL Application Checklist
MMFL Application Checklist

Propaganda. What does it remind you of? Perhaps Adolf Hitler and the propaganda campaigns that came from his Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment. The Catholic Church used the word first in 1622 when it determined it would go forth into the world and begin converting people to its faith. The American government put resources in getting citizens fired up for the World War II effort, too. And we can’t forget Reefer Madness and all of that anti-cannabis propaganda that is part of our history.

The Latin root of propaganda is from propagate or spread.

definition of the word propagandaPropaganda is a word that’s generally negative; it’s about a single point of view, is meant to be persuasive and is often biased and misleading. It’s not a word that is used often or lightly. Synonyms for propaganda include: disinformation, hype, evangelism, brainwashing, inculcation, publicity, newspeak and hogwash. That’s not the work that we do at Canna Communication and we wonder why LARA chose this specific word for its checklist for licensees.

There are two things about propaganda to be considered. First is the intention of propaganda, the second are the tools of propaganda. The tools and intentions are mixed when they’re discussed, but they’re really two different things.

The intention of propaganda is to strongly persuade people to think or behave in a certain way. The tools of propaganda are still the tools of communication today, advertising, signage, posters, fliers, videos and news stories. New to the toolbox is the internet and social media.

Fake news is the new propaganda.

Canna Communication wants to help people understand the properties and power of medicinal marijuana. We want to promote good cannabis growing practices, show how high-quality edibles are made and safely consumed and we’re all about the use of the plant by interested adults. We don’t think using propaganda techniques is what licensing is about—we’re not forcing the use of cannabis on an unsuspecting public. We’re about honest communication, listening to the public and creating great content that attracts customers.

We’re ready to help you create your marketing plan for licensing and your company’s future growth. When it comes to propaganda though, we’ll choose the words more carefully.

cannabis flowers, soon to be legal in Michigan

Nine Things to Know About Medical Marijuana Licensing in Michigan

It’s coming fast—the December 15 date when medical marijuana license applications begin to be accepted in Michigan. We’ve been reading all the documents, letters and notes and offer here some of the most important things to keep in mind if you are a cannabis entrepreneur. And as LARA often mentions, guidelines are subject to change.

1)   Licensing will be in two phases—there will be a pre-application portion, which will allow people to move through making an application while securing a location for their enterprise. With many municipalities still finalizing opt-in ordinances, this two-part process makes sense. If all of your materials ready to go, you can apply and complete both phases at once.

2)   In phase one, applicants will undergo a background check that is going to be rigorous. The background investigation includes, but is not limited to: a review of the applicant’s criminal and financial history, a review of previous compliance regarding regulation and taxation and a look at your business litigation history, if you have one. You’ll also consent to allow the state to do a background check—for which you’ll pay up to $8000. You’ll be fingerprinted and don’t forget that the State of Michigan wants its licensees to be of good moral character.

3)   You’ll need to have a municipality to lined up your business before you can go very far in the process. This is a critical part of your start up business—not every city, village or township in Michigan is willing to change its ordinances to allow marijuana businesses, if you have a location already working through an ordinance, that’s great. If you don’t, finding a locale where businesses are welcome should be your primary task. And the upside is, there are lots of municipalities in Michigan and not all have made decisions on this topic.

4)   You’ll need some serious start up capital for that license. The licenses—whether you are growing, testing, processing, transporting or provisioning will be priced on how many applications there are. The more applications, the less expensive it will be. Large scale growers should plan to give the State of Michigan between $8000 (many of applicants) and $57,000 (few applicants). Your municipality will also take no more than $5,000 of your money for it’s part of licensing. Small growers (Class A licenses) will pay no more than $10,000. Other fees are yet to be determined.

5)   Recently released (within 10 years) felons need not apply. You won’t be considered for a license. People who have been convicted of a misdemeanor in the last five years are likely not to get a license if it is drug related or involves theft dishonesty or fraud.

6)   Elected officials on the state level in Michigan (and any other state or federal government, for that matter) and Michigan State employees are ineligible to apply for a license. Indian tribe elected officials and employees may apply as well as precinct delegates.

three jars full of cannabis flower7)   For growers who want to go big—more than 1500 plants, you will be able to stack your Class C 1500 plant license. Apply (and pay for) multiple licenses. The state hasn’t said how many Class C licenses can be stacked, but this provision could allow for some very large operations.

8) The State of Michigan is allowing co-location of cannabis operations. That means a grower can also have a processing business and a provisioning center in the same location. It’s a great move for entrepreneurs who want to grow, make edibles and have a retail business. It will also be allow secure transportation. This complete package is very appealing and allows for better control of one’s business.

9)   In phase two of the application process, after you’ve been background checked, every licensee will need to present plans for information technology, staffing, marketing, inventory, security and recordkeeping.

That marketing plan part—we’re here for you.  Canna Communication has deep experience in creating strategic marketing plans. We are a communications firm dedicated solely to cannabis and are passionate about helping you grow your business!

Be Brave for Cannabis Campaign Gets Political

The Be Brave For Cannabis social campaign is getting political with the addition of a House Bill written by State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). The bill, which has bipartisan support, was created to prevent Michigan’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries from being shut down by licensing delays. Be Brave for Cannabis is encouraging people to share to create and share their ‘be brave’ social media videos or posts with legislators and to reach out by phone and in person to encourage support of the bill. The hashtag  #bebraveforcannabis is used for the effort.

Last year, the legislature passed bills to license medical marijuana businesses giving local governments control over whether to allow such licensed facilities to operate in their municipalities. However, the bills did not specify a process for licensing established medical marijuana businesses. The Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Board said recently that existing businesses must close by December 15, 2017, if they want to seek licensure. Because license applications will not be accepted before that date, provisioning businesses will be forced to shut down for an indefinite period while applications are processed.

Rep. Rabhi’s bill establishes a timeframe for processing the license applications of existing medical marijuana businesses and allows existing businesses to continue operating while their applications are processed. The bill also clarifies those existing businesses that apply before February will not be barred from licensure solely on account of having operated without a municipal enabling ordinance before this became a requirement. Municipalities retain control over whether to allow licensed medical marijuana facilities.

The time is now to harness the power of social media and encourage everyone to use it as a platform to really put a voice of support out for this bill. We also want them to encourage their audiences to be brave and do the same. Medical marijuana patients have kept quiet for years and now is the time to let elected officials understand the demand that truly exists within their communities.

“We’re asking the 240,000 people in Michigan who hold medical marijuana cards to contact their representatives in the Michigan legislature. It’s more important than ever that people have a voice on this important legislative issue. Dispensaries provide vital cannabis medication for thousands of patients in Michigan and leaving them without access for what might be several months is a punishment they don’t deserve,” said Roberta F. King of Canna Communication.

About Be Brave For Cannabis

The social media campaign, Be Brave for Cannabis was created to give people a platform and community for their support of cannabis use. Whether people are patients, recreational users or simply against cannabis prohibition #bebraveforcannabis is a place for standing up and speaking out. More information at www.bebraveforcannabis.com.