It's time to grow up, the cannabis market is changing

Ever since the conversation started on legalizing recreational marijuana here in California, I have been considering adding cannabis to our short list of target markets.

I was really happy Prop 64 made it on our ballot and even happier when it passed. On the flip side, I was surprised and a little embarrassed it took this notoriously flip-flop wearing, wine drinking, mostly chillaxing hippie state so long to jump on that wagon. Seriously, how could we stand idle while Oregon, Washington, and Colorado legalized marijuana before us?

Now that I’m past the shock and embarrassment, I’m excited to dive in. This is a market that’s headed toward serious growth and a rapid shift in thinking about how to brand and market is needed to compete for a new kind of customer.


Branding Cannabis

What's next?

I started getting a little more serious last week when I attended my first Women Grow event. Up until then I had just attended a few mainstream panel discussions and spent time doing secondary research online. I also try to inconspicuously sneak it into just about every conversation I have, which usually leads to finding out I’m not alone in my growing interest (pun intended) of the possible business opportunities.

Everyone agreed this type of regulation is needed to legitimize the industry but it was also pretty clear, based on the discussion, the requirements needed refinement.

The Women Grow event very inconveniently occurred on my horse riding night, so not only did I get there late but I’m pretty sure I smelled like horse poo. I’m hoping this was okay because it’s really just grass (get it?). Anyway, when I walked in, the panel discussion was just getting started and I was immediately drawn in, while at the same time feeling very out of my league. These people were very serious about Cannabis, its health benefits and the need to regulate it properly.

There was a lot of unfamiliar industry terminology being used, but there were also many terms I was very familiar with – branding, marketing and package design, for example. I was instantly thrilled to hear all the panelists talking about branding and marketing and how incredibly important it is for everyone to start planning now. Someone said “the rainbow pot leaf” has to go if you want to be taken seriously and be competitive in this new market. Everyone laughed but mostly because they knew it’s true.

There was a focus on branding and package design all evening because of the packaging regulations discussion prompted by the moderator Kimberly Simms, a local lawyer that specializes in medical marijuana laws in California. She handed out and reviewed a Cannabis packaging and labeling requirements document that sparked quite a bit of conversation and concern. She sent me a PDF version of the document to share with you.

This document details packaging and labeling requirement for medical cannabis and medical cannabis product. It covers fairly obvious items like “packages shall not be made attractive to children” and labels must include “for medical use only” and “schedule 1 controlled substance” statements. It also gets into more detail on identifying the cultivation date, type of marijuana and list of herbicides used.

Everyone agreed this type of regulation is needed to legitimize the industry but it was also pretty clear, based on the discussion, the requirements needed refinement. For example, a woman who makes edibles was concerned about her products being entirely organic and preservative-free, requiring them to be refrigerated. This came up after someone mentioned seemingly unrealistic regulations regarding storage temperatures outlined in a document they had read.

I was incredibly impressed by the depth of discussion by everyone and the knowledge and honest passion the panelists brought to it. I hate to admit it, but when I registered for the event, I didn’t really pay attention to the agenda – I was just hell bent on getting to a meeting. The funny thing is, it was the perfect first meeting to hook me in. All the discussion of branding, marketing, and package design reinforced my desire to get involved and apply my 20+ years of experience to a budding (pun intended) market like Cannabis.

Clearly, there is a lot to be sorted out still and I’m looking forward to learning more and getting involved. I plan to share some of my experiences on our blog, so if you’re interested in following my journey, be sure to subscribe. If you're interested in help with branding a new or transitioning business, give us a call – we're always happy to bounce around ideas.

Have a Pawsitively Tail Waggin’ Good Day!

P.S. Ruff Haus Design is a results focused brand consulting company located in San Diego, CA. Let us help unleash your brand image, connect with your customers and gain their loyalty.

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