PR Veterans to Launch ‘The NRA for Cannabis’

Weed 420 bro

Marijuana: it’s been all over the news recently, in case you somehow missed it.

Not only have two states officially decriminalized recreational use of the stuff–a majority of the American public now supports legalization for the first time, and the New York Times officially threw its hat into the ring this week, forcing the Obama administration to respond with a lame version of “our hands are tied; we have to enforce the law as it stands.”

What does this have to do with PR? A good bit.

When last we spoke to friend of the site Andrew Graham, he and his partners were introducing us to their new agency Clear and telling readers why “Do startups need PR?” is the wrong question to ask.

Today, however, Graham and his partners are working on an entirely different initiative–the world’s first advocacy group created to focus not on the rights of Americans to use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes but, rather, the American businesses community’s right to share in its economic benefits.

Meet Grow America. Our interview with Graham after the jump.

What, exactly, is Grow America? 

It’s a new, member-based initiative that will take the form of a non-profit advocacy organization. There will be two types of members: businesses and individuals. For business members, the group will better enable them to prepare for cannabis legalization (which the recent NYT op-ed suggests is coming sooner than we might think).

Its purpose, really, is to advance the economic interests of the country at large. It will do so by preparing corporations (which may remain anonymous if they so choose) from a marketing communications standpoint and giving individuals the opportunity to learn more about the sector from us.

What’s your ultimate goal?

Anytime anyone with a byline or a TV show wants an informed opinion about why cannabis legalization is good for America, I want them to call me and I’ll get back to them within ten minutes.

How did the project come about?

Last year I spent time working as PR for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (not the most exciting membership group out there). One of the subjects I wanted to push: tax issues surrounding legalization in Colorado. I wanted to use it as a springboard to push the AICPA into the news and provide counsel.

When states started putting legalization on the ballot, I began thinking about the issue through the lens of business. This had always been on the back of my mind; when we launched Clear in January, I told Bulldog Reporter that we wanted to get into the medical marijuana field as our skills were well-suited to that particular industry.

What’s the underlying issue here?

Legalization presents a very unique business opportunity: the cannabis market resembles the wine market in the US in terms of sales and tax revenue that both private businesses and the government could potentially glean from it.

Cannabis is a product that people want that costs money. If a corporation is not selling what people want to buy then it’s not going to be a very effective business.

Bottom line: legalization will save tons of money on enforcement costs while opening the door to many other service-based businesses.

Corporations on the whole are both curious and wary. That’s where we come in.

What do you bring to the table?

My partner Jeremy Bridgman and I bring expertise in corporate management and communications, while our other partners in this venture (who have worked in the field in Colorado) bring the cultural credibility.

Who is your ideal client/target audience?

First and foremost, the individuals we want to reach are advocates: primarily young, liberal /libertarian leaning folks who support legalization (though boomers are also very active ). We don’t want their money; we want their attention.