Updated: May 23
Brought to you by the Higher Learning LV Cannabis for Anxiety seminar.
Welcome to the Cannabis Industry Issues series from Higher Learning LV. In this exclusive series, we tackle the tough topics facing the marijuana industry and professionals trying to survive and succeed.
In 1964, musician Bob Dylan published "The Times They Are A-Changin'." This famous song and its equally famous lyric has become a common anthem for describing how various elements of society or the business world are constantly evolving.
It is interesting, from a strict business perspective, to watch the major cannabis information outlets slowly shrivel up and die—like dinosaurs after a meteor strike. It is also, admittedly, somewhat sad to witness stalwart icons of the old pre-legalization pot culture fade away. But this isn't an occasion for tears; change is constant and lamenting its continual grind forward is merely a distraction from successfully adapting to the new landscape.
Dying on the Vine, Cloaked in Fluff
Cannabis media outlets are dying. Leafly, Cannigma, The Fresh Toast, Cannabis Now, High Times…the list goes on and on. All sport business models based on primarily one thing: Ad revenue. And most are, like dinosaurs, going extinct. Many will follow the fate of already-deceased Civilized, once the darling of the cannabis media world. With Leafly and High Times on life support and all ad-based marijuana-themed media outlets hurting for revenue, the situation is as grim as it sounds.
Leafly, Cannigma, The Fresh Toast, Cannabis Now, High Times…the list goes on and on. All sport business models based on primarily one thing: Ad revenue. And most are dying.
In the 2001 film Super Troopers, the character of Police Chief Grady (played by actor Daniel von Bargen) quoted the now-infamous line "desperation is a stinky cologne." If that's true, many cannabis media companies are beginning to smell. Most of these once-powerful brands are now mere shadows of their former selves. They commonly exhibit their desperation with awkward plans (and sometimes PR stunts) to improve revenue, attract investment capital, or otherwise restructure their operations to survive a little while longer.
Some Fresh Fluff
In the process, however, these brands have failed to improve their content. Most continue to publish fluff articles of questionable value to serious business professionals. One of our favorites is a May 2023 piece from The Fresh Toast entitled "Can the Big Gulp Change the Marijuana World? Maybe."
Cannabis Now took the desperation to a new level by publishing promotional pieces involving Everclear brand grain alcohol. For those who got into cannabis for its health aspects, this crude gesture is like a slap in the face.
Further evidence of this desperation among cannabis media outlets lurks in the cluttered web pages of Cannabis Now and their recent promotional piece in the form of a drink recipe that showcases Everclear brand grain alcohol. For clarity, we have no beef with Everclear, a fine American brand that does what it says it does. However, for those who got into the cannabis industry to embrace the medical and health aspects of the herb, this crude effort to generate revenue is like a slap in the face against the progress made since California passed The Compassionate Use Act (Prop 215) way back in 1996.
You're the Product, Not the Customer
But this all makes sense. Why? Because for these cannabis media companies, you're not a customer, but rather a product. You are sold by these outlets to advertisers, plain and simple. It's no wonder that they aren't motivated to replace fluff with good content of true value to industry professionals.
Cannabis Media Outlets are Dying
Today, media outlets like Cannabis Now, Cannigma, and The Fresh Toast are competing with major social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which have lured away many of their advertising clients.
It was once said that desperation is a stinky cologne. If that's true, these companies are beginning to smell.
In desperation, they make newsletter or live event plays or perhaps try to derive some cash flow from paywalled content, hoping it will raise their bottom line and help them avoid extinction. In the meantime, once-robust ad revenue streams slow and eventually become a trickle. Layoffs occur. Press releases ignore reality and provide more fluff. The lucky ones limp along to suffer another quarter of shrinkage, while the most poorly managed simply evaporate, leaving a trail of abandoned podcasts and dusty social media accounts.
In short: It's all falling apart for many American cannabis media outlets.
Curious patients and industry professionals who once relied upon these canna-centric media outlets for information about things such as terpenes and cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system are now electing to get their information from more reliable sources like Higher Learning LV.
Higher Learning LV: No Ads or Fluff
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