On building the “Conscious Cannabis Consumer”
Last week, while in New York, I went to @gethigherstandards in Chelsea Market and met an assistant manager that was my real-life human foil. He was the Draco to my Harry, the Burr to my Hamilton, and the Charlotte to my mothereffin’ Samantha. It was in essence, a complete mismatch of vibes. We had a ‘conversation’ that left me fuming about the state of affairs in the cannabis industry and my potential role within it.
After learning that I created an education blog, this guy shared his distaste for influencers in the cannabis space and his belief that values-based cannabis education was impossible because an influencer will always prioritize income over the values of the industry. He was adamant that consumers were never going to be interested in learning about cannabis and will definitively fall prey to the marketing tactics of what is now, an industry quickly proliferating with snake oil salesmen and unverified products and claims. None of the above was said as eloquently. I’m just nice with words.
I conceded that influencers don’t always create brands that are change-oriented or conversation-inducing but that I felt the cannabis industry could be different. The cannabis industry has long been defined by a community of people that are committed to the preservation of the plant and it’s safe consumption. As the markets expand, I agreed that it may be harder to preserve these same intentions, but not impossible given the roots of the industry and the time that we still have to literally define the ‘conscious consumer’.
After twenty minutes of back and forth, and realizing that he had no interest in seeing my point of view, I finally started to leave and as I walked out of the store, he yelled, “You’re wrong by the way!” 🙄
I left wishing that I had thought of more clever comebacks to this guy’s cynicisms, negativity and toxic mansplaining. I was struck by the unproductive and defeatist attitude of someone working at a cannabis product retailer. But mostly, I left wondering how I was going to prove him wrong.
As I walked out of the store, he yelled, “You’re wrong by the way!”
I realized that I alone cannot control if garbage information and trash products flood the cannabis industry. In fact, just about the only thing I can control is MY knowledge, MY efforts, and MY energy.
I joined this space because it IS hard to be an educated consumer. Cannabis has different effects on each individual human body. How do you even begin to unpack all of that? It was my own lack of knowledge and fear that kept me from even considering cannabis at all until I was already mentally and physically falling apart.
It takes effort to differentiate between marketing and education. That is true. But I believe that there will always be consumers that will want to know, that will vote with their dollar to support quality practices, and that will boost up the efforts of organizations with values they support: women-, minority-, veteran-owned; organic farming; equity-program partners etc.
I truly believe that.
I left that store pretty upset and after a few hours I decided to do two things.
1. I decided to apply for a scholarship to get certified by the Sativa Science Club.
Right now, I say yes to every opportunity that comes my way and I’m pushing myself to do more things I’m uncomfortable with like hosting fitness events and creating videos. My plate is full. But I feel strongly that this is what I should do. I will use my ongoing education to solidify my expertise and help DEFINE the marketing tactics in this industry. If there is a way for marketing to co-exist with consumer education as research becomes more widely available, then I want to be a leader in that conversation.
2. I decided to create a value-system that reflects what I hope will come to define the industry and that will guide my decisions as I build Cyntivee.
These are the fundamental tenets that I believe will allow us to protect and empower a new wave of conscious cannabis consumers:
Keeping the consumer’s safety at the forefront
Prioritizing continuous research and testing
Expecting and requiring that players in the game are properly educated and certified
Finding a way for all the people and communities who previously lived in the shadows of this black market to crossover into and benefit from the post-prohibition industry
Trusting that there will always be a consumer that WANTS to know, that has high standards, and that will vote with their dollar
Recognizing that we’re lucky to still have a chance to set these standards and doing so intentionally as an industry.
If we are able to maintain these ideals at the forefront, perhaps the consumer will evolve and come to expect and demand better from their cannabis providers.
I am not naive enough to think that there won’t be shady misinformation and marketing as cannabis becomes nationally available and as new products are released. I know that there will be missteps on all of our parts. But it is early. And if you’re not trying to be a part of the solution, then get outta my way. Because I am.