Fine line between “telling” and selling

Yesterday saw Aphria singing the praises of a marketing company they’re partnering with to drive sales of cannabis.

It was kind of bizarre.

Perhaps the news is considered “material” – and better safe than sorry when it comes to disclosure.

But why trumpet the merits of said agreement in a news release, when a low-key announcement would’ve sufficed?

I mean, why stick your head out of the foxhole when the federal government’s been vowing to crack down on overly promotional activity when it comes to the sale of cannabis in this country.

I get that cannabis companies want to differentiate their offerings in what will quickly become a crowded marketplace.

Yes, law is prohibitive and the rules are hard to swallow. But the reasoning behind them is solid.

Most of us know that promotional overtures tend to find their way into the hearts and minds of young people.

And we don’t like the tactics tobacco companies and beer companies have been accused of over the years.

Drug companies can’t push pills to the masses. And the Marlboro man has long since hung up his chaps.

We don’t want to be “marketed to” and “targeted” and  to “drive sales” for your company.

Some of us don’t care to be told how great we’ll feel using your brand of cannabis.

Promotional activity thinly disguised as special events and educational programming  taints individual companies and the industry as a whole.

I’ve been following the medical literature on the medicinal potential of cannabis for a couple of years. Like many others, I can’t wait to see where it goes.

But investing in marketing to grow the pool of consumers who take cannabis for fun?  Who besides cannabis companies thinks that’s a good idea?

It’s too cute by half to say – buy our fantastic product – but use responsibly – wink wink nudge nudge say no more.

Maybe it’s not fair to beat up on Aphria in this trial-and-error time when cannabis companies are trying to navigate new waters.

But why didn’t they just hire a marketing and PR firm rather than establish a joint venture and then tell us how great that is? Granted, that’s their business, and maybe it’s a smart strategy.

Good PR advice is hard to come by and sometimes even harder to heed.  But let’s not forget that the  eyes of the world are resting on us and watching to see how this all turns out.

Let’s show our true colours as a nation that does the right thing by its children and young people and our society as a whole, in the name of public good, and perhaps at the expense of the highest possible profits when good returns on investment should be good enough for investors in cannabis.

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