marijuana legalization

One of the most difficult tasks for public relations is the reversal of the historically negative stigma. Changing perceptions of the marijuana industry is one such task; with an expanding legalization campaign across the country, however, it is a task that no PR pros should be looking to avoid. Indeed, just six years after the first state attempt to legalize recreational marijuana use, there is an emerging national cannabis industry that has grown to include bespoke products of all types.

While the tide of public perception of marijuana use appears to be turning in favor of the industry, federation restriction and regulation remain two key hurdles to the growth of the industry.

Here are some hot topic issues to stay abreast of:

Tax Rates

California fell $100 million short of its projected annual tax revenue in the wake of marijuana legalization. The fact that the state has high taxes on the drug is not a coincidence; the close to 40% tax rate appears to be encouraging consumers to return to black market products. On the other hand, forcing high taxes on businesses- rather than the consumer- can short the supply of marijuana in the market.

Dispensary Legalization

Marijuana is already legal in several states; this, however, does not mean that marijuana is available for purchase in all municipalities. Furthermore, not all municipalities allow sales of legalized recreational marijuana; as you prepare your clients for legalization, be sure to steer clear of pot deserts.

Safety Standards

Marijuana can, and does, fail lab tests. A product may fall short for a number of reasons, including anything from mislabelling to pesticide contamination. As the industry evolves, the costs associated with these tests could range from anywhere in the affordable to distinctly expensive range. This situation may leave producers with products they cannot shift, increasing the risk of supply to the black market.

Embrace Lab Testing

It is an easy thing to agree on: states that legalize marijuana should retain a vest interested in ensuring a supply of safe marijuana. Therefore, it is critical that states create a comprehensive infrastructure for lab testing. If regional labs are not well-equipped to handle rising demand markets will notice and customers will be left dissatisfied.

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Distributors

At present, it is not legal to hold a distribution and retail license at the same time. Even so, small scale businesses can legally produce and distribute products to retailers, making it vital that enough distributing licenses are issued to prevent the emergence of a gap in the market.

Single Supply Chain Tracking Systems

The supply chain is one of the biggest complications for businesses looking to enter the marijuana market. As such, entrepreneurs must think outside the box when maintaining oversight over their supply chains. With the development of blockchain technology, for example, a new form of product management has emerged. The marijuana industry is still in its early days, but this does not make good PR and business management skills any less important.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.