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.

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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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.