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Cannabis in the Creator Economy

The cannabis market was worth USD 22.10 billion, according to 2020 figures. Still, like all other businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic made it miss its projected 13.9% CAGR trajectory during the 2021-2026 period. Due to the restrictions on buying from physical outlets, cannabis manufacturers relied on social media and online shopping more than ever before. One reason for cannabis lovers to rejoice was the monumental move by the Alberta government. They placed cannabis producers, retail outlets, distributors, manufacturers, and warehouses under the essential services bracket.

cannabis and the creator economy
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The Surge in Cannabis Popularity

Medical science continues its forward march, and more and more studies and research reveal the additional benefits of cannabis constituents. As a result, its usability in medical treatment is slowly gaining firm ground. The legalization of cannabis consumption is allowed usually for medical purposes. But stoners can take heart. Aside from legalization in Canada, many US states have made the recreational use of cannabis legal too. Further, cannabis coming into the limelight has led many researchers to conduct trials of genetically modified cannabis breeds. Though countries like Australia and Canada are waking up to the great benefits that cannabis offers, the biggest market for cannabis and cannabis constituent-based products remains the US.

The Flowers are Attracting Seasoned Stoners

With the increasing legalization of cannabis consumption, the creators in the creator economy could hardly remain blind to the mental and money high that one can get from the substance. But things are far from a charted road as many international social media channels still regard cannabis as a harmful psychoactive drug. Unfortunately, this is the case with the more significant parts of the world. So, it is little wonder that their accounts get flagged once too often on the various social media platforms.

The legal watchdogs regard cannabis influencer marketing as another paid social media endorsement. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) official policy is, “the agency is committed to protecting the public health while also taking steps to improve the efficiency of regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products.” On the other hand, another critical governing body — the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) makes it mandatory for influencer marketing posts to state clearly and prominently any kind of financial transaction with the influencer. The federal legality of the practice thus falls into the purview of the Department of justice.

Besides governmental agencies, it is essential to note that all platforms come with their own terms and conditions. They have a specific standard. Instagram for one only allows “marijuana advocacy content, and dispensaries can also promote the use and federal legalization of marijuana provided that they do not also attempt its sale.”

So, What’s at Stake?

But platform regulations have never managed to quell the aspirations and passionate people. Consider Teresa Garibyan, the person in charge of the famous cannabis-related Instagram profile — Trippy Treez. She earns an incredible $1000-$1500 for a single sponsored post on her Instagram account. Besides, she receives plenty of free products that drive the overall value to even more extraordinary lengths. Her 223,000 followers made the whole thing possible, obviously. Such figures only point out how costly an account suspension can be to content creators. One account banned means that your only other option is to start from scratch. Trippy Treez has been on Instagram since 2016. From then to today, she had her account shut down in 2018 for two months. Additionally, Instagram deactivated her account twice for lesser amounts of time in 2019, which was a terrible year for the cannabis industry.

Things are However Looking Better

making money from smoking weed
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV, courtesy of Pexels

Until in the recent past, Google’s YouTube followed a policy of strict restriction of monetizing marijuana and other drug-related content. To put it simply, no one, brand or media, or person or group could make money from marijuana-related conduct. As a result, it is not rare to find channels and individual accounts being suspended or demonetized for flouting the strict rules.

That belongs to the past due to new liberal cannabis-friendly laws in the US and South America. YouTube, too updated its policies and eased the restrictions on the monetization of cannabis and other “recreational drugs and drug-related content.” Basically, that translates to the fact that cannabis brands and advertisers can advertise on YouTube, meaning that creators can monetize their cannabis content. However, the portrayal of cannabis and other drugs need to be:

  • Informative
  • Objective
  • Educational
  • And “non-glorified”

For cannabis businesses that don’t comply with the relaxed restrictions will still have to experience the prohibition of content monetization. These policy changes took effect in April, 2021.