a graphic of marijuana leaves that form 420 for a blog about 420 and its meaning

All About 420 and Other Cannabis Secrets

People who are friends of marijuana know all about 420, or 4:20, or 4/20. It’s long been the code word for taking a moment to partake in a bit of cannabis. 

So 4:20 can happen on any day at 4:20 PM or if you’re an early bird (or night owl) at 4:20 AM, but also on the day April 20. 

You can use it in a sentence, as in: “Wow, it’s 420 already. I’m going to step outside.”

People who love cannabis are delighted to observe when our car gas points out that we have 420 miles until empty or when the Michigan Public Radio announcer says it’s 4:20, which they do nearly every afternoon between news stories and weather. 

People who love weed will always spot 420 in a street address, phone number, or license plate and are happy for that magical combination.

420 is becoming a bit mainstream—this year Food Network recently announced actor and comic Ron Funches would host Chopped 420, a competition cooking show with cannabis added.

Knowing about 420 is a respectful nod to a community of people with a love of cannabis and also to the fact that we’ve had to keep our consumption under wraps for so long. We’re lucky that cannabis prohibition is over in Michigan, and adults can enjoy cannabis in its many forms.

So, rather than being a secret code, it’s a well-known high holiday, and cannabis fans and cannabis businesses everywhere are celebrating. But the story of 420 isn’t common knowledge, and if you’re celebrating a holiday, you need to know the backstory.

Where 420 Began

The history of the code word is clear; it began in California with five friends at San Rafael High School and the search for a plot of marijuana somewhere on the Point Reyes Peninsula. The friends, also known as the Waldos met after class each day at 4:20 to search for the weed, which was never found. They used 420 as their code word for marijuana, and the friends carried it through in conversations and correspondence. From that group of five high schoolers, the code of 420 spread across marijuana culture and has been part of our language since the 1970s.

Communities around the globe celebrate 420—Denver has a big event each year, as does San Francisco, Seattle, Amsterdam, and multiple locations in Canada. With COVID-19, celebrations are likely to be scaled back or canceled—and passing joints, that’s history too.

Are There Other Cannabis Codes That Need Breaking? 

Let’s start with a glossary of a few cannabis words that you might hear in a provisioning center or from a pothead* friend.

Blazed—this describes a pleasant cannabis high.

Blitzed—word to describe being very high, more so than blazed.

Bubbler—also a bong. Uses water to cool the smoke from burning cannabis.

Cannabis—also marijuana, nug, flower, bud, MJ, Mary Jane, ganja, herb, hippie lettuce, jazz cabbage, reefer, dank and the good—as in the good stuff.

Cannavore—people who prefer edible cannabis over smoking, vaping, or dabbing.

Cone—if you can’t roll a joint, you can stuff some flower into a pre-made cone and consume it that way. Pre-rolls are made in cones.

Dab—consumption of a cannabis concentrate like shatter, budder, or wax.

Florist—a code name for a provisioning center. Some florists deliver!

Mids—describes mid-level cannabis. Not the best, not the worst, just average flower.

Joint—also doob or doobie, J or Jay, phattie, fattie, spliff, or a blunt.

Nail—it’s a device heated and used to consume a dab, which is a cannabis concentrate.

Wake and Bake—when you get up in the morning and consume some cannabis.

*Pothead—is a term of endearment that describes someone who loves cannabis. It’s like being a Deadhead or Parrothead or Gearhead. It’s preferred over stoner.

Where is The Pot leaf Emoji?

If you search your emoji collection for a marijuana leaf, you’ll need to keep looking. Due to American federal prohibition and prohibition across the world, there is no leaf emoji, but some emojis are code for cannabis and cannabis use. 

Try one of these in your next text.

A face with squinty eyes: 😆 or contentedly smiling 😌

A blazed smiley: 🥴

How you hold a joint: 👌

Substitute for a cannabis leaf: 🌿 or 🍃 or 🍁 or 🥦

This tree also works for a cannabis bud: 🌳

An edible: 🍫

A joint: 🚬

Bong or bubbler: ⚗️

 👁 💚 🌿

So from 420 to emojis—we’re happy to provide the insight. And if you ever wondered anything about cannabis, just ask us. We’re happy to share all the secrets!

This blog was written by Canna Communication for our client, Agri-Med . It is with their permission we’re posting it here with some slight revisions.

Communicating Cannabis Safety and Science From The Inside Out

When you live in a community that went from zero cannabis provisioning centers to a half dozen in less than two years’ time, you know that people are testing the weed waters.

The City of Muskegon adopted a land use ordinance that allows not only cannabis provisioning centers, but grow operations, processing, testing and transporting. Under the adult-use rules microbusinesses, special events and consumption lounges are also allowed. 

It’s one of the most inclusive cannabis ordinances on this side of Michigan.

There’s a term used in public health that you might not be familiar with—harm reduction. 

a handful of cannabis buds to illustrate cannabis provisioning centers

Harm reduction is a set of strategies and ideas that are aimed and reducing the negative consequences that might come from drug use. It’s not about trying to get people to stop using drugs (or alcohol for that matter) but helping people understand their limits, the consequences of using substances. It’s what public health departments have done for years—discouraged under-age drinking, teen smoking, all age drinking and driving and promoting safe sex to prevent HIV. 

Public health has been at the forefront of dozens of harm reduction efforts over the years. Cannabis is no different.

Canna Communication approached Public Health-Muskegon County (PH-MC) about harm reduction efforts and asked if they needed any communication help from a communication professional and cannabis insider.

So much of what people see generated from public health entities are negative when it comes to cannabis. We know that at some point negative advertising doesn’t work, it turns people off and doesn’t deliver the intended message. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) created a series of anti-cannabis videos in early 2020 which stirred up cannabis activists from across the state—the outcry about the portrayal of a cannabis consumer was so filled with stereotypes and cliches that MDHHS pulled the video series despite having spent $330,000 on the campaign.  We’ve spotted random billboards throughout Michigan created by local health departments that are making an effort to disparage cannabis, consumers, and the industry—and they’re doing it with medical cannabis funds.

Every year, local county entities are able to apply for funds from the State of Michigan for marijuana prevention education. The funds are derived from fees collected by the State from medical marijuana cards. Each county in Michigan can apply for funds and the dollar amount is based on how many people in that county hold medical marijuana cards—so the more cards, the more money that’s available. 

Prior to the passage of Prop 1 which legalized cannabis, many county sheriff’s departments applied for funds and used it for marijuana law enforcement. With legalization, law enforcement has backed off from applying and some county health departments have taken advantage of the pool of funds.

Canna Communication began working with PH-MC in the winter of 2020 with a research project to find out how parents who consume cannabis talk with their kids about use of the drug. That primary research with about 100 people from across Michigan helped us understand that science, honesty and facts were the most effective way to get a message across. Sure, we had an agenda—discourage kids from using cannabis and for parents to take care to keep cannabis from young people. 

The grant that PH-MC received was used in a four-part effort focused on encouraging youth to avoid cannabis via their parents’ input, discouraging pregnant women from using cannabis, safe consumption of edibles and information about driving and cannabis. We created a simple website with information that was fact-based and not meant to deceive or mislead people about cannabis. The website is a starting point for ongoing campaigns in those four areas—we can add information as it becomes available to use it as a home base for our efforts. We used social media and digital geofencing to spread the word. 

Working With Muskegon’s Cannabis Provisioning Centers

Once a cannabis business enters a community, it’s important for people there to understand the facts about the product, the risks involved and how to be a responsible consumer. Most provisioning centers (aka marijuana dispensaries) educate their budtenders and customers about the products they’re buying and start slow and go low is a common phrase that’s used to advise newcomers about cannabis edibles.   

PHMC also partnered up with four Muskegon-area provisioning centers—Park Place Provisionary, Cloud Cannabis, Bella Sol Wellness and Redbud Roots and provided pre-printed customer bags and social media materials regarding the safe consumption of edibles. It’s one way to meet cannabis users where they’re at.

Michigan voters made legal cannabis the law of the land, but the tone by which we educate people about cannabis is up to interpretation. Providing the facts with balanced information and avoiding judgment is the surest communication strategy.

For more information about this campaign give Canna Communication a call.

Feature photo by Botanical Rising on Unsplash

a prerolled joint great for using cannabis for the first time

Cannabis Curious: Let’s Try Some Weed

There are a few things to know about using cannabis for the first time. Okay, it might not be the first time you’ve used cannabis, but if you’ve been away for a few years or decades—welcome back.

Is the marijuana you bought that much different than what you might have consumed in the past? No, and yes.

It’s true that cannabis is more potent than it was in the past. Good genetics and careful growing have made a better looking, smelling and tasting plant. You also know now what the potency is—in the past that information wasn’t available to consumers. That goes double with edibles. Carefully review the packaging on your goods so you know the percentage of THC that you’re about to consume.

If you’re using cannabis for the first time or the first time in recent memory, go easy.

Try a couple of hits from the joint or pre-roll. If you’re vaping cannabis, it’s not like tobacco vapes and there won’t be a giant plume of smoke when you exhale, and much less smoke than a joint, too.

Vapes are made from cannabis concentrates, so take one hit and wait a 10-15 minutes before you do another, as it can be powerful. You’ll feel something quickly with either the joint or the vape and then make a decision about more consumption. You’ll stay high for at least two hours depending on how much you smoked.

an orange box with a vape cartridge inside

Edibles have a reputation for sneaking up on people and for people overdoing it. When it comes to food, we’re not used to eating one tiny square of a chocolate bar or only part of gummy candy. But with cannabis-infused food, you need to take care. If you’ve never had an edible, use the mantra “start low and go slow.” That means 5mg of anything, so that’s ½ of Michigan recommended a dose of 10mg, if you’re anxious about getting too high, cut it to 2.5 mg. And here’s where it gets tricky—because edibles are absorbed via that stomach and that’s a slower absorption process than smoking or vaping.

It takes an hour or more to feel the effect of an edible.

It’s a common mistake to eat a bite, think that you’re not feeling anything and have another bite or two and then BOOM, you’re unpleasantly stoned. Resist the urge to consume more until you feel the effect of the first dose. We recommend doing something active like taking a walk or a hike after you consume, you’ll then notice the high more gradually and we promise you’ll appreciate nature even more.

The high will last about 3-4 hours, depending on the THC level and your body composition. The high will just gradually fade away, the same way it came on. It’s quite pleasant.

Whatever you do—don’t drive while consuming or after consuming marijuana. It’s against the law and dangerous.

If you overconsume and feel extraordinarily high there are a few things you can do.

  • Drink water.
  • Nibble on a couple of black peppercorns.
  • If you have CBD in the house, take a dose of that.
  • Lock into the couch and watch a mindless TV series or cartoons and pet your dog or cat.
  • Throw on your headphones and enjoy your music.
  • Don’t worry. You’re not going to die—no one has and you’re not going to the first.
  • Phone a friend who has experience with cannabis. You know that person and they’ll let you know everything is going to be alright.
  • Take a walk, the fresh air will do you good.
  • Take a hot shower, for some reason hot water helps bring you down.
  • Go to bed and sleep it off.

We’ve written about cannabis microdosing before, check out this blog if you’re interested in that option.

image of a macbook computer searching with google

Basic SEO for a Cannabis Business Website

Search engine optimization (SEO) for a cannabis business website is the fuel that makes your site rank (or show on top) when a specific topic is searched. It is the process of getting traffic to your cannabis website via free or organic search. As you know, the competition in cannabis is fierce, so the engines behind Google, Bing and Safari need to present the BEST and most relevant sites to the searcher. This magic is done via algorithms, a mathematical and super-secret formula that takes into account hundreds of bits of information and that determine the ranking for keywords. 

SEO has an air of mystery about it, and everyone wants it to work for them and to be a top-ranking page. Big companies have SEO staff or consultants that help with SEO, but what if you’re a cannabis start-up or a marijuana entrepreneur without resources to work on SEO day-to-day? 

Don’t despair. We have some ideas for you to use to make the SEO for your cannabis business website work.

Here’s the thing: it takes time and effort, and results might come slowly. But if you’re persistent, you can make it happen.

SEO is comprised of multiple factors that work together for a successful search.

It begins with content on your site that matches a search, which are words people use when searching. If your website is rich with keywords that match what people are looking for, that’s a good start.

You need content that is optimized on your website, keywords and meta descriptions for each page. The words that people are searching for should exist on the page name, in the headers, and frequently within the content itself. A meta description is a small amount of content on a web page that tells the search engines and readers what’s there. Take care to write good meta descriptions that reflect how users are searching.

Content creation is essential to successful SEO for the cannabis business website, and that’s where people tend to have trouble. Creating content about cannabis is fun and easy if you’re a writer, videographer, or photographer. But, if you don’t have those skills, you’ll struggle, and fresh content is essential to SEO. People often ask about how often content needs to be added to a website. Ideally, three times a week. Yikes! Who has time for that? Shoot for once a week, or at least twice a month. And before you talk yourself into once a month, create a list of 26 topics you can write about, and you’ll have a starting point.

mac on a table, to illustrate SEO search for a cannabis business website

Other SEO Tips and Tricks.

You need to have an SSL or secure site, which is a certificate (of safety essentially) that you can get via your website host. You need to have a website that loads quickly, check your page speed here. A speed test will give you some ideas to speed things up for users. Your site should have been created with mobile as its focus. You know instantly on a mobile device if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, and you don’t want that to be your cannabis business. Use the free Moz tool to review your domain name and authority. It provides a score between 1 and 100 and other information you might find useful. You can also review the domains of your competition and see how you compare.

When you review your Google analytics, check on the bounce rate and time on page data. Both have an impact on your SEO, and you want a low number of bounces and a longer time on page. If you have a high bounce rate, something isn’t working, and people are finding your site and leaving. Think about why that might be the case.

Links within your website and post are essential to your SEO success. You need to be generous with your outbound links and look for opportunities for backlinks (links to your site) too. The more credible a site that backlinks to you is, the better your SEO will be.

Social sharing also helps improve your SEO. Make sure to post your new content on your social media pages and in groups where you’re a member.

Make sure that you have a business listing on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Having an accurate listing with reviews, where that applies will help with your SEO. 

image of a google business page to illustrate SEO for a cannabis business website
Example of a Google business listing

Inside of your site (if it is a WordPress site), there is a plug-in called Yoast. Yoast will virtually coach you through making new content SEO-rich. It will help you make decisions on headlines, keywords, keyword frequency and other SEO tricks. If not for Yoast, we’d be a lot less successful with our Canna Communication SEO.

Lastly, don’t ignore your alt text on photos within your site. Alt text is written for visually impaired users who are looking at your website. Write text that use your keywords and reflect the essence of the image. It not only helps your SEO, but you’re also doing something right to make your site welcoming and inclusive to all users.

Need help with implementing search engine optimization (SEO) for a cannabis business website? Give us a jingle we’d love to help you out.

a cannabis leaf used to illustrate cannabis news

Our Best Ideas for Pitching Your Cannabis Business Story to the Media

Placing stories about your cannabis business in the news is a powerful means of amplification that can’t be underestimated. It’s something businesses need to do regularly to get the word out and further normalize cannabis for the public.

We know that mainstream media is shrinking, and local newsrooms and outlets are harder to find. Yet, the impact of a well-placed cannabis business news story will have a positive effect on your business that is hard to duplicate. Depending on where you are, your local media will always have more readers, viewers and listeners than you will ever have on your social media site or in your enews subscriptions. And with the big cannabis hitters like Leafly, Cannabis Now, High Times, Culture or Ganjapreneur reaching new audiences there can be a game changer.

How do you get Your Cannabis Business Into the news?

It takes a combination of strategy, planning, being able to react quickly to trends and news and a bit of persuasion. Here’s how we work to make cannabis business news happen.

Build a Solid Relationship.

Having a good relationship with a reporter involves providing accurate, timely and newsworthy information; being available for interviews and being a good source. Sometimes being a good source is helping a reporter with a story that doesn’t involve you or your business, but is within the cannabis industry. Use a silver bullet, not a shotgun when making your pitch. While we like to be seen across the media, in multiple outlets, we write every pitch email personally and customize it to the reporter.

The Fast Pitch.

young woman with a softball to illustrate a pitch to the media of a cannabis business story

Journalists are busy people, and in a big newsroom, we’ve heard that a reporter can get about 200 emails a day. Make your pitch short, helpful and to the point. Don’t spend time on minor details in the pitch. You can stick that in the news release that’s either attached or detailed below the actual pitch. If you’ve succeeded in your pitch, they’ll read further.  If you can keep a pitch to about 150 words, you’re doing great!

Think of Your News With a Headline in Mind.

When you’re thinking about the pitch you’re making, write the headline you envision and use it for the subject of your email.  Anything that’s genuinely new and first makes good potential news stories. But it also must have an impact on the business you’re doing and the audience that the media outlet serves. Building a $2 million cannabis grow facility? That’s news. Are you hiring people in your community? That’s news. Are you bringing a new cannabis product to market? That’s news. Make sure when you use first and new that you have the data and research to back it up.

someone reading a newspaper with a headline about a cannabis business in it

Know Your News.

Some stories are breaking news, some are features, and others are evergreen in nature—that is—time doesn’t matter so much. Craft your pitch for what the news actually is and the media outlet you want to be in; it’s okay to ask a reporter about his or her deadlines. Keep in mind that print magazines often work 2-3 months in advance, weekly publications are working on stories the week or two before, and even daily print publications need some lead time. Breaking stories happen throughout the 24-hour news cycle and those are the opportunities for which you drop what you’re doing and jump in. Make sure for radio you have someone who is a willing and enthusiastic speaker, and for TV you’ll need something visual. For print and online, assets like photography help make a story happen.

Timing Matters.

a clock that illustrates timing when it comes to media for your cannabis business

Tuesdays and Wednesday are best days for pitches, and it appears that between 10 AM and noon are also good. But, if you have real news and are connected to the reporter, don’t wait to make the pitch. You can also use slow media times to your advantage. The week between Christmas and New Year is notoriously quiet in the news business as are other long holiday breaks. Remember if you make a pitch on a Friday, you might end up with a weekend news story, which isn’t all bad. If your pitch isn’t working, it could be your news is an internal update, which might best be shared on social media.

Make the quick decision to jump in and help when there’s a crisis. Established brands are always the first to help when disaster strikes—and your cannabis business can do this, too. If a tornado hits your community, or a flood or a family suffers from a fire—lend a hand and let the media know. Whether it is providing cases of bottled water, helping lead a drive for food or funds or giving people in your business time off to help out, that’s the kind of story the media likes during dark times.

Make Sure You’re Qualified to be on the Bandwagon.

Local news organizations often find some of their news leads from breaking national stories that are happening or even from news in a nearby media market. If it makes sense for you to jump in give your opinion on something or offer advice, then make the pitch. Newsjacking or inserting your company or brand into a breaking story is part of what PR professionals do. Keep up on cannabis news so that you can be part of the story.  Make sure you are educated on the subject and not straying too far from your area of expertise or brand.

In the cannabis community, there’s plenty of competition, but collaboration can move all of us forward as we evolve and grow as an industry. If you need a hand with your cannabis business news generation, Canna Communication can help, just give us a call or send a quick note.

a glass you might use for a cannabis special event, it has a leaf made out of confetti in it

Ten Ways to Spark Your Cannabis Special Event

A cannabis special event is one of the best ways for a business to connect directly with customers. An event gives a business the opportunity to showcase a place, a new product or an idea. A special event can be used to celebrate an anniversary, a grand opening, an expansion, a national holiday like Independence or Veterans Day or the high holiday of 4/20. You don’t need an official reason for hosting an event, it’s all about getting to know your customers.

Organizing a cannabis special event can be time-consuming, there are real benefits.

  •      It builds customer loyalty.
  •      It builds brand awareness.
  •      It attracts new customers.
  •      It provides space to inform people on a subject or a product      
  •      It provides insight into your customers.
  •      It’s fun.

Putting together a cannabis special event for your business takes time and planning, but it’s worth it.

Outside of the ordinary planning points of a special event, we suggest paying attention to a few things that can truly make a difference to your attendees and the success of your special event.

  1. Choose your date and time carefully. Look at not only what’s happening in your community, but around the world. You don’t want to plan an event and have it fall on Rosh Hashanah, Good Friday, Super Bowl Sunday, the Michigan/Michigan State game day or Martin Luther King Day.
  2. Assign two point people to help “manage” the event. One is the host the other is the troubleshooter. Don’t have the host solving on the ground problems and don’t have the troubleshooter serve as the host. Your guests need attention as much as the problems do.
  3. Be fun, but be legal. Make sure that everything you do when it comespeople having fun at a cannabis special event to marijuana is compliant with local and state laws. You don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize your license, whether that is onsite consumption, giving away product or serving alcohol in your space.
  4. Give people something to do other than stand around. Whether it’s a game like corn hole (assuming you’re outdoors), building something like a jenga tower, a trivia game or even crayons to color on a table cover or provide a photo wall where they can take a selfie.
  5. Collect data on your guests while being a friendly host. When your guests check in, ask for their email and phone and for them to opt-in to your mailing or texting list. Ask them about their favorite way to consume cannabis and about the one thing they want you to carry that you don’t already have.
  6. Establish a hashtag for your event and post it where people can see it. Do your research to make sure it is unique and short. People will use it if they’re on social media and it will help you see what your visitors are saying.
  7. Door prizes, not raffles. Keep in mind that in most states a raffle requires a license, so don’t call your giveaway a raffle. People are pretty much happy to get anything free. Branded swag from your company, like a tee-shirt or a pint glass, is always a good option and big stickers, rolling papers and lighters are always welcome.
  8. Food is an essential part of any event—it should be simple, abundant food for a cannabis special eventand easy to eat. Keep in mind the time of your event, 5-7 PM is the dinner hour and people might expect heavier foods, 7-9 PM might lend itself to desserts and mid-afternoon is great for veggies, cheeses and crackers.  Keep in mind food preferences like vegetarians and allergies like gluten and provide options. Label your food and make sure your troubleshooter knows what’s in the food you’re serving. If you’re serving infused food make sure it’s clearly labeled with potency and that you’re not outside the law.
  9. Music is essential to setting the mood for your event and developing a playlist isn’t an easy task. Keep in mind your audience and the purpose and time of your event and use music that works to meet those goals. If you know someone who really knows music, ask that person to make suggestions for your mix. Using a paid subscription to a music service can provide a party mix without ads.
  10. Thank your attendees. With collected emails or phone numbers, you can send a quick note after the event and let them know how much you appreciated their attendance. It’s also a great time to offer a discount on something you’ve got in stock.

Need a hand with planning your next cannabis special event? Give us a shout and we’ll give you the help you need to make it perfect.

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.

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.

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.