Cannabiz co-founder and chief growth officer Martin Lane reflects on the marketing and PR challenges the industry faces in a world where Facebook prefers hate speech to hash.

So you know how I mentioned that I was still learning in my Welcome to Cannabiz piece on the day we launched? Well, here are a couple of immediate lessons that might prove helpful to the industry as a whole.

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We had planned to launch quietly, get the site up and running first, then test it properly before announcing its existence to the wider world. Unfortunately, my background in media and marketing means I know a lot of journalists. One of them got wind of what we were up to, tweeted it, and suddenly it seemed most of Australia – well, its media and marketing industry at least – was waking up to news of our new arrival.

So, lesson number one: expect the unexpected and have your media plan ready even if you don’t think you’ll need it today.

In an industry which is already on the back foot when it comes to the wider public, it’s important to have your messaging ready whenever you might need it. And that messaging needs to be clear and easy for the majority of people to understand:

  • Cannabis has two main components, only one of which gets you high.
  • The other part is an effective and safe treatment for a range of conditions including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, depression, pain relief and nausea associated with chemotherapy, among others.
  • While medicinal cannabis is legal in Australia, complicated regulations mean most ordinary Australians can’t afford it.
  • Doctors aren’t properly trained to prescribe it.
  • Thousands of Australians die in unnecessary pain every year because they can’t get the treatment they deserve.

Don’t bother mentioning the endocannabinoid system. You’re not at a cannabis conference now.

And before you jump into the comment thread and lecture me on the complex nature of this 6,000-year-old treatment, remember this: I’m simplifying for a purpose. Most people don’t care about THC and CBD, they care about feeling better.

Don’t bother mentioning the endocannabinoid system. You’re not at a cannabis conference now.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...