17 May 2022 |

Hard Times for Hardcar?

By Kaitlin Domangue

Alcohol or No Alcohol?

As you can imagine, this post received a lot of differing opinions – thankfully they were all respectful and weren’t shaming Jeffrey for his perspective. 

The interesting thing about this post is that everyone is, obviously, for cannabis consumption lounges. That’s not the issue at hand. The issue is whether or not alcohol should be allowed in these consumption lounges, too. 

One of the most thoughtful comments, in my opinion, was from Jessica Reilly, a writer in the industry. She also happens to be a friend of mine! Here’s what she said: 

I disagree- I think it’s an opportunity for a market corner that Vegas has previously ignored! 

It’s incredibly easy to get a drink in Vegas- do consumers really need yet another option? Non-alcoholic options have grown over 315% in the past year (WaPo, January) and there’s a fair share of cannabis consumers who are sober too. Why not make an easy option for people who don’t want a drink? 

Additionally, cross-fading increases the risk of greening out, which would be a PR nightmare for any business, especially since canna is still only tenuously accepted in media.

I agree with Jessica’s point that Vegas does not need more spots to drink. There are plenty. And, as she said, a fair share of cannabis consumers don’t drink alcohol. Throwing alcohol into the mix could complicate their sobriety from alcoholic drinks. Vegas also has the opportunity to corner this cannabis-only market and drive revenue, especially from tourists. A cannabis-only spot sounds perfect. 

On the other hand, you also have an opinion like Dustin Hoxworth’s, and I also agree with his stance. It’s great to include BOTH of their opinions because Dustin is also my friend, and he’s Jessica’s friend, too. I love seeing different perspectives from respectable people in the space, and how they approach opposing opinions with care:

There should be zero restrictions. Last I checked we’re adults and can choose for ourselves. Businesses should be able to decide for themselves. The last thing we need is more bs reefer madness-driven laws around the plant, regardless of crossfading or any other “issue”.

Dustin is right, we are adults and we can choose for ourselves. I do think Jessica has a point when it comes to cross-fading being a PR nightmare, but that’s just a risk that comes with alcohol in general. We should also not ignore the fact that cannabis alters our minds, though not in the same way alcohol does.

We don’t have a firm stance on whether or not alcohol should be allowed at cannabis consumption lounges, because we agree that 1) there are enough drinking spots in Vegas and 2) adults can make their own decisions. 

The keyword here is adults. What we do have a stance on is strict processes that ensure children can’t get inside with a fake ID, because that often happens with bars, especially in college towns. 

Not that I’ve ever used a fake ID or anything (if you’re reading this mom), but we’re sure that won’t be a problem because dispensaries have rigorous identification checks. 

If only every bar had the same 🤷‍♀️

Hardtimes for Hardcar

This is rough to see, and the comments are even rougher. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in cannabis and it won’t be the last. 

Many of the comments are agreeing with Blake’s take on the kind of company Hardcar is. Deena Ridha, a sales specialist in the California cannabis industry, said:

“They are a complete joke. They have been doing this shutdown/open-up since 2018. I’m sorry you went through this. Unfortunately, I dealt with them and they couldn’t drive a car from A to B & pick up money.” 

The truth is that the cannabis industry is startup land. 

Startups are typically no older than 3-5 years old. In states like Missouri, no cannabis business has been operating for even three years unless they are an out-of-state company, and even then – many are still in the startup window. 

And startups have a 90% fail rate. Cannabis businesses have fallen hard, are falling hard as I type, and will continue to fall hard for the foreseeable future. 

Cannabis businesses in the U.S. also have the distinct pleasure of operating against federal regulations, which makes the chances of success that much harder. The second-largest reason why startups fail is that they run out of funding, and funding couldn’t be harder to obtain in this space. 

So, the issue here isn’t that cannabis startups fail – because that’s inevitable across all industries. It’s that companies like Hardcar fail without warning their employees of an impending layoff. 

Why the raise just one week before? How many employees started to adjust their life plans in expectance of that raise? And like Blake said, how many people have late rent and empty fridges? 

In the words of Olivia Rodrigo: it’s brutal out here. You can’t fault a cannabis company for failing, because it’s so hard to exist in this space. 

But, we can absolutely fault a cannabis company for not warning their employees, giving them meaningless raises a week before their layoff, and treating them like they don’t matter. 

This is an issue in every space, unfortunately – not just cannabis. Just last week, the car retailer Carvana laid off 2,500 employees in a 5-minute Zoom call to “better align staffing and expense levels with sales volumes.” 

Um, okay? In other words: sales suck, we need to fire you, and only have five minutes to do it over this Zoom meeting? Carvana’s announcement came on the same day they announced the acquisition of another company for $2.2 billion, which often happens in cannabis and other industries alike. 

We are happy to see people like Blake speaking out against these companies who treat their employees this way and urge everyone else to do the same. It not only helps the cannabis space but other industries, also. 

We are already at the forefront of an entire health and happiness movement, why not improve working conditions, too? 

Social Media Woes

If anyone knows about cannabis businesses being restricted on social media – it’s Alice Moon. It’s happened to her, but she’s been able to successfully appeal the ban and reinstate her account. She’s also helped other people do the same. 

Unfortunately – it keeps happening to businesses and individuals. So, a petition has been created to present to Instagram. I hope this petition gains traction and Instagram reconsiders, however, I don’t have high hopes. 

Instagram’s terms of service are clear: they don’t allow the promotion or sale of cannabis on their website. However, accounts can be deleted by software looking for the word “cannabis”, and Instagram’s artificial intelligence can also search for images of cannabis and auto-delete accounts and posts – even if they aren’t selling or promoting cannabis. 

There’s no guarantee when or if your account will be deleted. Plant-touching businesses aren’t the only companies impacted, either. Social media creators like Alice experience the same bans. 

Workweek knows this feeling all too well, as they’ve run into trouble for running The Green Paper ads on Facebook, as Facebook owns Instagram and their terms of service are similar. Kelsey Parker commented on Alice’s post:

Facebook has even stronger cannabis censorship than IG and if you set up your Facebook page with any mention of cannabis it causes issues integrating with certain 3rd-party scheduling apps. Make sure your Facebook business page and any cross-posted content don’t include any sensitive cannabis-related words if that’s the issue you’re running into.

We all know Facebook and Instagram aren’t deleting accounts and ads of people posing with an alcoholic drink. In fact, Facebook has a feature that restricts alcohol ads from users under the age of 21. Why can’t that be extended to the cannabis industry, too?

People often ask me if promoting on social media is even worth it. It is. You just have to diversify your marketing efforts in cannabis. There’s no guarantee you won’t wake up and lose an audience you spent years building. As your cannabis brand posts on Instagram, encourage people to join your email list. 

Some quick tips to not get deleted, though nearly every cannabis account has been deleted at some point:

1. Limit pictures of cannabis

2. Don’t talk about selling cannabis, which is harder for retailers 

3. Focus on legalization and facts over actually consuming the plant – save that for in person. 

This is a huge reason why I joined Workweek. I’m in your email inbox, baby. You’re not censoring me. You’re not deleting my voice or scientific evidence. 

This email list belongs to The Green Paper, and they can’t take away a built audience. Thankfully, there are plenty of cannabis-friendly email platforms -unlike social media. So as long as you maintain that – you’re golden.