CEO and co-founder of cannabis company OTO International James Bagley says the industry must ditch the marketing clichés if it is to take its rightful place on the world stage.

When it comes to building an industry – making a market – the customer matters most. When it comes to cannabis, that’s never been truer. Marketing matters.

Leveraging the tremendous potential and diverse properties of cannabis means inspiring the public and in turn changing the conversation and cultural context.

Considering the varied perceptions around cannabis, hemp, THC, CBD and cannabinoids, we must challenge the very real public stigma that exists.

It’s not so hard to imagine the fears that face many a customer, or patient, that on one the hand is desperate to benefit from the extraordinary potential of cannabis for myriad indications, while on the other is equally stressed, confused and anxious about using a deeply demonised drug that they worry might make them high.

It’s supposed to alleviate anxiety, not play into it. Worse still if a physician has their own doubts or lack of confidence.

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OTO International CEO and co-founder James Bagley

I remember my own first foray into a dispensary while I was living in California in 2017 (where I started my first venture in cannabis). An odd, dark, confusing, seedy experience when it should have been anything but.

It can be done though. By bringing to life the potential through products that build on the natural proposition and potential of cannabis and reach consumers through a compelling brand.

Growing accessibility has rapidly evolved cannabis to become one of the most sought-after ingredients around the world — used in innovation across nearly every category from health and wellness, to food and drink, beauty to conventional medicine.

Why should Australians not benefit from this. In fact, why are we not leading the way?

I see no good reason whatsoever that products based on cannabinoids, whether for treating medical indications or otherwise, should look awful, feel course, taste terrible, be hard to use or come in basic, unsustainable packaging. It shouldn’t be average when it can be extraordinary.

Until this is a mainstream market (medical or otherwise), with mass brands, desirable products and media educating and destigmatising its use, we should not rest.

Huge pots of cash raised privately or publicly isn’t an end-game – it’s merely fuel for the industry. Where will you put that money? It’s not enough to finance a large scale ‘grow’ facility – farming won’t get it done.

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...