The U.S. elections last week resulted in several states voting to legalize recreational or medical marijuana, and it should be no surprise that companies of all kinds see an industry that’s got a lot of growth and opportunity in it. Like in digital OOH advertising.
Phil Cohen built up his first businesses in digital OOH space servicing the mainstream medical clinic sector, as Care Media, with education-driven, ad supported networks in a series of targeted environments. He went quiet in recent years, but is now back touting something called the Cannabis Users Information Network.
Cohen is now CEO of Saddle Ranch Media, an over-the-counter listed company that has a film unit, several DOOH networks, and a digital creative team. In a press release that seems designed to get out in front of this, without actually having anything yet, Saddle Ranch says it is “prioritizing its work on the development of the Cannabis Users Information Network. The Network will be a reliable and non-partisan source of cannabis related medical information and will provide educational information for parents, doctors and health care providers about the informed medical and recreational use of cannabis products.”
“The SRMX Cannabis Users Network is planned to be a self-supporting, profit-making Information Network and a respected source for cannabis use information in the form of reliable educational information,” says Cohen. “Cannabis industry leaders and health experts alike understand the need to be sure people are educated and what is called an expansion of ‘Adult Cannabis use’ is just that. Our Network is planned for distribution to dispensaries, doctors’ offices and other health providers to ensure that cannabis users have accurate information and become educated about the pros and cons of the use of marijuana.”
Recreational marijuana is legal today in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, and last week’s voting added California, Massachusetts and Nevada as states where the recreational use of marijuana is OK. Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana measures, bringing the total to 31 states with some form of legalized cannabis use.
California alone is estimated to grow to a $6 billion annual industry in the next four years, based on an LA Times analysis.
It makes for a very large audience and somewhat unfamiliar product that doesn’t have any mainstream advertising or marketing. So the dispensaries are potentially a great advertising environment.
It’s smart to get in early on what could/should be a high growth sector, but it’s also no slam-dunk. I don’t know much about the weed industry, but what I’ve heard is that it is mostly populated at the store level by small business people, and there are very few chains and very few similarities between stores. So you have to sell in a Digital OOH network one by one by one, and know each shop is gonna be different.
I also wonder what all can and will be advertised on these screens, since there are also few or no national or regional brands with big marketing budgets. Then again, Frito-Lay may just want to block buy the thing and market Cheetos.
The good news is that building a Digital OOH network is waaaaay cheaper and easier than it was 10-15 years ago. Look at this model.
Weed shops are an interesting space, and in many respects I think the bigger and more reliable opportunity may be in service-based signage in stores, for menu-boards and interactive screens that explain the differences between Triple Diesel and Skywalker OG.
Weirdly, while the U.S. is shifting to cannabis despite going conservative in Washington, medical marijuana has some limited access in liberal Canada, and recreational cannabis is not legal (though it is thought to be on the near horizon).