7 PR do’s and don’ts for the legalization of marijuana

by | Feb 26, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

It has been more than six years since November 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to make the first attempt for the legalization of marijuana. Both states became the first two states in the union to legalize recreational marijuana. We are thinking how cannabis went from Reefer Madnessto respectable Canada legalization. And now it’s been almost five years since December 2013, when public sales of the wacky weed were not a criminal offense. Oh my, we have come a long way.

Legalization of marijuana

Marijuana legalization is a battle that’s been raging for a long time. There have been some victories for supporters of the legalization, and there have also been some setbacks. Some victories come with PR reversing stigmas attached to the drug, a fair commercial distribution plan and tremendous support from courts that passed bills for legalizing medical marijuana. Do you know that your cannabis company can get a bank account? I think you don’t know.

Reversing the stigma of marijuana

One of the most difficult tasks of public relation is reversing a historically negative stigma. Some of the ways supporters use public relations to help their campaigns include using personal narratives and highlighting economic opportunities. Still stigma and economy are a major factor when it comes to legalizing marijuana in many states. Failure in public relation means you can’t pass the test of legalizing marijuana. Legalization has three big problems, and one of the biggest is federal.

  • Federal restriction remains one of the biggest obstacles to legalizing cannabis. Normal business and marijuana business is not the same at all. The considerations for the marijuana business is very complex than normal business.
  • The second problem is creating and sustaining a legal market customer base.
  • The third problem is incentivizing black and grey market businesses to join the legal, tax-paying market. One can easily detox from weed if they want in the future.

7 don’ts for PR professionals preparing for the legalization of marijuana

Don’t tax too much—California fell $100m short of its projected annual tax revenue following marijuana legalization. California has high marijuana taxes, and it’s not a coincidence. PR professionals preparing for marijuana legalization must remember to stay clear of 40 percent taxes on weed to capitalize on legalization. High marijuana taxes encourage consumers to return to the black market, and it is predictable. On the contrary, applying high taxes on weed businesses rather than on the consumer can short the amount of supply.

Dispensaries might get banned, don’t make it easy—Marijuana is legal in some places. But this does not mean you can buy marijuana from all the municipalities. All the municipalities do not allow sales of legalized recreational marijuana. If PR professionals are preparing for the marijuana legalization, then they have to make sure local governments can’t create pot deserts.

Set safety standards (keeping in mind smaller producers, so they can meet them)—Sometimes marijuana may fail lab tests. A product can fail for various reasons like mislabeling, pesticide contamination. The cost of these tests may range from a thousand dollars. This situation will leave producers with wares that they can’t sell weed in the legal market. So, they will turn to the black market.

Have plenty of testing labs—and make sure they are ready—Everyone admits that the next states to legalize marijuana should give people access to safe products. So, PR professionals must remember to create a comprehensive infrastructure for lab testing. If they don’t use well-equipped lab, then the market will be down. Customers will get dissatisfied. So unhappy customer means lower sales—and that means less tax revenue for the state.

Do not overlook the importance of distributors—You can’t hold a distribution and retail license at the same time. However, you can legally produce and distribute products. There are a lot of small farms who focuses on growing the plant may not have a plan for distribution. So, PR professionals must make sure to license enough distributors. By doing this, they will not leave small farms without a means to get their product to retail locations.

Use a single supply chain tracking system—The supply chain can be the biggest complications for the next states to legalize marijuana. So, PR professionals must ensure a good supply chain tracking system. There are a lot of software options available in the market for supply chain tracking system.

Remember that legalizing marijuana can mean many things

Marijuana legalization has vast distinctions across states and even municipalities within those states.

7 do’s for PR professionals preparing for legalization

Think like a brand—You have to be sensible while choosing a company name. A lot of company using cannabis and marijuana in their brand name. The company name can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. Companies with a similar name can coexist. PR professional must choose a name by keeping in mind SEO and digital marketing.

Plan the future of your business—There are a lot of resources out there to make a business plan in the early stage. PR professionals should reassess the market and make a good future plan for the business.

Reassess the market, your alliances and your financing—Marijuana business is expanding rapidly. But still, this business is small in number. If you are preparing for legalization, then you should re-evaluate the market. If you can assess everything, then you can give a tough competition to others.

Keep in mind that the laws are complicated—The first and foremost thing you should do is understand your states marijuana laws. Laws may vary from state to state. It’s important to understand the gray areas that even the government is not sure about yet. The drug is still illegal; that’s why PR professional should understand everything.

Plan ahead because you’ll get no tax breaks—Cannabis has a weird tax status. It’s a good idea for PR professionals to start with a significant financial cushion, so that they aren’t put into the red by taxes.

Be very careful about your target marketing—You have to build a good website. The website should have good SEO content. Promote the website digitally through social media. You can stay legal if you can make sure that everyone you market to directly is of legal age.

Treat the laws like those on alcohol—As PR professionals, you must remind people that they can’t drive after doing pot. Because of the influence of marijuana, bad things can happen. People could get arrested.


Because of harsh penalties and strict regulations, PR companies are now confined to thinking out of the box. As a PR professional, you have a larger challenge because you are in a regulated industry. PR professional plays an important role in legalizing marijuana. Did you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts with regarding this issue.

Mary Walton
Mary Walton is a professional editor, content strategist and a part of NCSM team. Apart from writing, Mary is passionate about hiking and gaming. Feel free to contact her via Facebook.


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