Remember when “cannabis media” meant High Times? When the venerable counterculture mag first began captivating college kids and outraging parents back in 1974, the outlets for cannabis journalism were few and far between.
Today, the situation could hardly be more different: From cannabis cookery and hemp-based fashion to the business and finance of the multibillion-dollar industry, there’s no shortage of cannabis media outlets to peruse. That’s great news if you’re interested in learning about the culture and community around cannabis, but if you’re a dispensary or cannabis brand looking for exposure, cracking that code can suddenly look a lot more challenging.
That’s where we’d like to help. Getting your business covered in the cannabis media may not be as simple as it was a few years ago, but believe us: It’s not rocket science. We’ll run through a few pointers to keep in mind, and then share a curated list featuring many of the major cannabis media outlets in the United States. Keep honing your pitch, and before long you’ll be seeing your name in print, too!
Cannabis Media: Basics of Pitching
Some newcomers to the industry lament the “good old days,” but the fact is that even when cannabis was a new industry, simply announcing the launch of a new brand or dispensary wasn’t necessarily newsworthy. For your business endeavor to be compelling enough for journalists to want to write about it, there has to be something truly newsworthy about it.
Take a page from the rules of writing a press release (a skill you should definitely have in your back pocket by the way). Start with the “5 W’s” of journalism:
Who: Which specific people or companies are (or were) involved?
What: What exactly is going to (or has) happen(ed)?
Where: Where will (or did) this event take place?
When: When will (or did) the event occur?
Why: Last but definitely not least, why is this information important to the media outlet’s readers?
From a cannabis media outlet’s point of view, that last “W” is the most important: Why should their readership care? What makes the story of your brand or dispensary leap off the page to grab the attention of any reader, not just your current customers or fans?
Some cannabis brands adopt a very personal take on this question, sharing the story of how cannabis helped bring loved ones back from the brink of crippling illness or even death. But even lacking such a dramatic flair, there’s always a backstory or some human element that gives your brand meaning beyond just being another retail business. You’ll have to take some time to determine just what that is and how it’s best told. But once you have your business’ “origin story” nailed down, pitching to cannabis media gets a whole lot simpler.
On a technical note, we recommend you take some time to make sure you’re pitching your story to the right person. Be sure to reach out to an editor; if the publication isn’t solely focused on cannabis, then do a little digging so you know which editor is responsible for cannabis content.
Similarly, before you pitch any outlet, take a moment to get familiar with its audience. Are they likely to connect with your brand or dispensary, or is there another publication better suited to your fanbase? Researching a bunch of publications may seem tiresome, but trust us: That work will pay off. When it comes time to pitch editors—including letting them know why you think your story is right for them—you’ll stand a far greater chance of actually getting covered.
With that out of the way, let’s turn to the question of what’s out there in terms of publications. And there’s a great deal, as it turns out. To help you narrow it down, we’ll share our curated list of top cannabis media outlets.
Cannabis Media: The World of Culture, Style, and Fashion
For many cannabis brands and dispensaries, getting covered in a cannabis culture publication is the golden ticket: A chance to show off your singular style and connect with tastemakers in the cannabis world.
Created by women for a female audience, this stylish venture recalls über-hip Portland magazine Kinfolk (Broccoli’s founder was a creative director there). This new publication shoots for a fun, free-wheeling and above all cultured perspective on cannabis.
This publication is a major player in cannabis media and it shows, from the high-quality writing and curation to the captivating photography and art direction. Though it often focuses on cannabis cultivation, science, and technology, the voice is always aimed at a generalist audience. It’s a great resource for researching what’s being written about cannabis these days.
While it’s a US-based publication, Culture aims its highly polished content at an international readership. Combining everything from strain reviews to drug policy pieces with broad appeal, it’s an example of how the cannabis media sector is maturing with great design and editorship.
The rare example of a cannabis publication that puts out a glossy hard copy edition as well, this well-designed magazine features news, tips, and reviews of cannabis edibles, much as you’d expect. But with an eye for offbeat and engaging content—like the Bigfoot and cannabis connection—it’s anything but stodgy and predictable.
More news-oriented than cultural in focus, this encyclopedic website (also available as a more limited hardcopy edition) is focused on bridging the gap between the cannabis community and the media. You’ll find articles on cannabis lifestyle trends, social justice and equity in the cannabis industry, and coverage that focuses on how cannabis law affects the lives of ordinary people.
This venerable outfit has been in operation since 1974, hitting some notable rough patches in the years since. But while some argue the magazine has slipped in terms of relevance and clout, it’s still the most recognizable cannabis magazine on the planet and is in many ways the gold…er, green standard of cannabis media.
While Leafly is first and foremost a cannabis discovery and ordering platform, the website’s robust coverage of cannabis news, culture and science earn it a coveted place on this list. You’ll find well-researched and authoritative articles on cannabis consumption, specific strains, and gadgets. And while they can get highly technical, all the content is aimed squarely at a generalist audience.
Cannabis Media: Business, Finance, and Entrepreneurship
If the cannabis plant’s connections to underground music and culture aren’t what drives your brand or dispensary, you might try pitching to publications that focus on the nuts and bolts of running a business. Here are a few of the most respected in this vital and growing sector.
A national publication aimed at cultivators, investors, and cannabis businesspeople in general, you’ll find crisply reported industry news, articles on financial and legal resources, and authoritative tips on regulatory approaches and strategies.
A publication aimed at activists, businesspeople, and investors, this up-to-the-minute website features reportage on the legal and commercial fronts broken down by state and province, as well as a podcast and a subscription-based business directory.
This spinoff of the long-running Entrepreneur imprint covers the business side of both the medical and adult-use realms. The publication is known for high-quality content and solid international reporting; recently, it spun off into more exploratory realms—“Sex on Psychedelics,” anyone?—which may indicate an appetite for more offbeat content.
With nearly a decade of publication under its belt, this well-regarded industry publication may be the most like a traditional print newspaper in voice and tone. It’s focused on professionals in all sectors of the legal cannabis economy, with dense state-by-state news coverage, industry statistics and trends, and select international coverage and forecasts.
With a self-described focus on professional cannabis growers and retailers, this monthly journal includes a bumper crop of news, tips, and legal advice geared towards those who cultivate cannabis or otherwise participate in its production and processing.
The name is somewhat deceptive here. Rather than serving growers specifically, this self-described “business and lifestyle magazine” covers cannabis news as it relates to the European market. While this might not make it an ideal fit for US-based businesses, the focus is wide-ranging and the international perspective vital and refreshing.
Cannabis Media: Science and Medicine
Some brands prefer to focus on the cannabis plant’s medical potential, not that this excludes the culture and business categories above. But given the country’s greater acceptance of medical cannabis (and CBD’s near-ubiquity even in cannabis-illegal states), there are a large and growing number of publications aimed squarely at this important segment of the market.
Advertising itself as “heavy on science, light on fluff,” this publication serves all stakeholders in the CBD industry. If it lacks the depth and reach of other more established publications, you’ll find plenty of data-driven reportage on cannabis science, legal news, and product reviews.
Despite the edgy-sounding name, Dope—an acronym for “Defending Our Planet Everywhere”—is largely aimed at the medical cannabis community. The focus is on educational content based on the latest cannabis research and studies, but there’s a healthy dose of cannabis culture and legal news as well.
While this online journal began with the mission of sharing authoritative information on the environmental, economical, and health-focused aspects of the hemp industry, it’s evolved to include plenty of culture news and even product reviews (“DabTabs”?). You’ll even find cannabis- and hemp-based recipes, making this catchall publication a good place to aim generalist pitches.
Despite the clinical-sounding name, this publication is aimed equally at a science-curious general audience (though professionals working in the industry will be intrigued by the technical examinations of our favorite plant). Alongside articles on the potential ensemble effects of terpenes and other compounds, you’ll find pieces on home cultivation, advances in cannabis law, and other such wide-ranging content.
In print for a thoroughly impressive 30 years thus far, this publication splits its focus between the US and the UK but caters specifically to medical cannabis patients and those who cultivate the plant. To that end, you’ll find a somewhat wide-ranging spread of articles, with breakdowns of recent clinical studies sharing space with game reviews and profiles of growers.
While doing this, don’t forget to focus on your digital marketing strategy, which can help get more people to your website and store.