Are Cannabis Brands 'Whitewashing' the Green Rush?

Tameka Kee

Take a look at the Instagram profiles, billboards and other visuals around the growing crop of marijuana brands and you’ll find one thing in common: The majority of the models and spokespeople are white.

That’s a big problem according to Papa & Barkley CMO Kimberly Dillon, because the “new” generation of cannabis consumers is decidedly more diverse:

“People from all walks of life use cannabis. From soccer moms to Rastas to seniors to rappers to lawyers to kids with epilepsy … [However] It seems as if many brands, in an effort to destigmatize the use of cannabis, have decided to simply (and literally) whitewash their campaigns.”

Destigmatizing cannabis is a good thing.

Helping legislators, investors and the American public overall see that marijuana users can be successful, value-creating members of society -- as opposed to “lazy” stoners or criminals -- is an important step in changing laws and driving new investments in our industry.

But it’s just as important to make sure that the images of these successful cannabis consumers include Black and brown folks, especially since users in these communities have been the ones most stigmatized (and targeted by law enforcement).

So what’s a quick and easy way for marijuana and CBD brands to avoid “whitewashing” the green rush? Seek out Black and brown influencers. Per Dillon:

“Your Influencers should appeal to your target audience and can help you authentically reach audiences that may be harder to reach with traditional methods.”

You can find additional steps and best practices in the full article at Adweek.