Media narratives, for better or worse, have a dramatic impact on the public’s perception of cannabis. We’ve seen a wide range of narratives used to describe the plant’s side effects and potential for medical use, from demonization on a grand scale to thoroughly researched, objective evaluations of the substance. Whether you love or hate the mass media, if you’re a stakeholder in the success of the recreational or medical cannabis spaces, it’s not something you can ignore.
Here’s what experts on the intersection of cannabis and media have to say on the subject:
Claire Moloney, Marketing Manager at LeafLink, Inc.:
“The biggest challenge for investors in cannabis, especially the ones who are new to the space, is to wade through the ever-growing number of startups in this industry for a responsible investment. They look to media, both mainstream and cannabis-specific, to determine who the thought leaders are and validate the problems they are solving. On the first day we opened our doors at LeafLink, Forbes notified us that our co-founder Ryan Smith was the first cannabis-facing CEO to make their 30 Under 30 List, and that recognition was a powerful piece of our pitch to investors in our most recent round of seed funding.”
Jeffrey Zucker, President of Green Lion Partners:
“The cannabis and media industries are natural partners. With all of the buzz around cannabis, people are yearning for high quality content that is engaging and informative. Considering that we’re still in the early stages of growth in the cannabis industry, the time to capitalize on the media opportunities has only just begun.”
Jason Santos, CEO of Burn TV:
“Cannabis was here before man and it will be here after man, it’s just now developing into a massive global mainstream industry through advancements in legalization and acceptance. And one of the most important, yet underserved sectors around it is media.
While themed content has risen in recent years, mainstream marketing and branding opportunities for brands or products are still scarce, leaving many consumers without enough information to help make informed decisions for themselves pertaining to those brands or products. Combine that with a lack of abundance in quality programming pertaining to the industry, and it’s not hard to see why media and the marketing and branding aspects of it are so needed by both consumers and businesses alike. As a result of that need, we see media as having one of the highest ceilings of any opportunity of any sector in this rapidly growing global industry.”
Marion Mariathasan, CEO of Simplifya:
“In the rapidly growing cannabis industry, there are multiple investment opportunities both in ancillary and for those who want to invest in the plant. On the ancillary side, there is a clear distinction between the companies that are solving real problems and moving the industry forward versus the ones who are trying to find ways to make money. If non-industry investors are interested in looking at opportunities in the cannabis industry, my advice to them would be to pair up with reputable organizations and people who have years of experience in the space.
When I entered the cannabis industry almost a year and a half ago as an investor and entrepreneur, I found my way to the most recognized law firm in the industry, Vicente Sederberg. The law firm was able to direct me to reputable investors and entrepreneurs such as Hypur Ventures, Poseidon and VS Tech Ventures to name a few. There are plenty of opportunities and lots of dollars to be made in the industry, but like any new industry, aligning oneself with the right people is extremely important.”
Lisa Harun, Co-Founder of Vapium:
“The cannabis media space is rife with opportunity. The best example is MassRoots– powered by more than one million registered users. The Company’s mobile apps enable consumers to make educated cannabis purchasing decisions through community-driven reviews. What value is placed on this? It is a publicly traded company (MSRT) and as the platform become more sophisticated, so does their intrinsic value. Approach the cannabis media space in a similar vein to investing in a social or traditional media platform- understand the space. Education, awareness, influence, reach – those are some of the markers I would analyze to read the viability and growth potential of an opportunity in this space. And as always, look at the team. Cannabis isn’t going anywhere, there will be lots of opportunities to invest. I invested four years ago, and I am thrilled at the outcome to date.”
Frank Lane, President of CFN Media:
“The cannabis industry’s significant growth rates have created many opportunities in media. For example, the industry is neglected by many large advertising agencies, which creates opportunities for smaller companies in the space. Cannabis-focused publications, like the Denver Post’s The Cannabist, have also drawn large global cannabis audiences that they have leveraged for advertising.”
Matei Olaru, CEO of Lift:
“Typically, we see media supporting new industries by documenting developments and compensating for a lack of information. Unique to the cannabis industry, however, is the lack of a trusted source and so the media has a unique role to play- it has to build trust. There are many conflicting sources confusing patients, users and investors. We see an overabundance of misinformation rather than a lack of it. I suspect that as the cannabis sector becomes more mainstream and begins to resemble a true global industry, we’ll see more buy-in from reputable media and greater overall interaction between the two.”
Matt Stang, Chief Revenue Officer at High Times:
“At times, the media has represented cannabis in a consistently negative light, failing to provide a balanced view of the plant and demonizing it as a substance to be avoided at all costs. As the public’s perception of cannabis has shifted, the media has begun to cover cannabis and the industry that revolves around it positively. Both the cannabis industry and the media have become intertwined, and we’re starting to see the good that they can do when working together.”