From long-time cannabis connoisseurs to anti-weed warriors and all those in between, everyone is talking about legalization. The historic events of October 17 have not only given way to an explosion of conversation regarding the topics of culture, appropriate usage, and economics, but also a surprisingly controversial topic: the language of legalization.
From marijuana to weed, the name for cannabis varies depending on the demographic of who you’re speaking with. Many Canadians have grown up calling cannabis by one of its many nicknames or pseudonyms and are unwilling to refer to it as anything else out of sheer habit. Others have urged the public toward specific terminology for clarity purposes. Some activists have even argued for the retirement of the word “marijuana” because of its racist roots.
Among those who seek to change the conversation are PR and marketing professionals in the cannabis industry. Many industry players have opted to forgo the commonly used “marijuana” and have referred to their product (and encouraged other to do so) strictly as cannabis. The purpose of this message is not only to allow for consistency, but also as a way to rebrand their product for an audience that finally seems ready to consume it.
Canadian PR shops like RNMKR and Marigold PR have both opened cannabis-specific divisions in an attempt to help their clients shake off the stigma some Canadians still associate with cannabis.
“Consuming cannabis is not something to feel ashamed about,” Corey Herscu, RNMKR’s CEO said in an interview with Daily Hive. “People have been told that they are degenerates if they smoke weed. Part of our PR initiative is to re-educate.”
For many companies, a major part of this re-education involves targeting different demographics with specific branding. Solei, for example, is a brand owned by Aphria that is marketed to the female cannabis consumer. Visitors to their website are encouraged to “find (their) moment” with their “modern sungrown cannabis brand”. Their Unplug Hybrid THC promises consumers the ability to slow down after a hectic day, while the Free CBD is compared to a spa experience. And, they’re careful to always use the appropriate terminology in their branding in order to deliver the correct message.
Legalization brings a newness to the already well-established cannabis culture in Vancouver, and for many parts of Canada, its accessibility is a novel idea. CPRS Vancouver looks forward to seeing the role Cannabis plays in the Canadian market and how PR professionals around the country continue to change the conversation to best suit their clients’ needs.