Is This Bud For You? Cannabis Grows Online

This being a weekend and all, you might be ready to chill. And for a long time now, that’s meant marijuana. As you have noticed, even if you are stoned half the time, marijuana is turning into quite a hot, legitimate business.

For a while now it has had Kindland, a surprisingly very good site that neatly straddles the fun part of marijuana with the medical part and the countercultural part with  the legislative part. “We’re a little bit about what’s inside the joint, and a lot about the person behind it,”  it announces on its Website.

A line graph of my marijuana consumption over the years would look exactly like the graph charting Blackberry stock. These days, I’m not the first or last word on reefer.

But according to NewsWhip, the company that monitors what’s hot news on the Internet, “cannabis is the next frontier for content.”

On its blog, NewsWhip’s Gabriele Boland recently noted that some existing content creators, namely NowThis and Vice, recently launched their own separate marijuana-tinged verticals.

More interesting is that NewsWhip’s analytic analysis of “content containing cannabis keywords” across Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter shows a huge spike, from two million engagements in March 2016 to around 17 million in March of this year.

Graphed out, you can see those engagements spiked in November and then really began skyrocketing since January. That’s possibly because nine states had some form of marijuana reform on their ballots last November (and all but one passed). The Website Governing says 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, or are about to. 

“The year of 2016 may go down as a watershed for weed, the election when legalization shifted from being an experiment in the American West to something primed for the mainstream,” Time magazine wrote.

NewsWhip’s Boland interviewed Kindland’s founder and CEO Mike France, who said that for some mainstream publishers, a touch of pot talk would probably work. But for a publisher who’s taking a broad approach, different judgments are needed to sustain itself.

“This difference significantly shapes editorial strategy and coverage, positioning, and voice,” he disclosed. “One small, funny example of that is we make far fewer weed puns. . .

"Within cannabis, there’s a health and wellness audience, a science audience, a policy audience that cares about things including legislation, social justice and civil liberties, and cannabis culture and lifestyle audiences that are very different from each other.”

So, in a way, describing Kindland as a more sober side of pot probably is true, compared to, say,,  that is more what France euphemistically refers to as “really engagement based.”

He touts Weedmaps and Leafly  as the two pot sites that are making most of the money, mainly centered on the medical and legal side. Way the reverse is  High Times which has been around since 1974. It still publishes a magazine and its Website just seems as frenetic as the print version. (Even there, most of the stories about about legislation, but in a more New York Post graphic style.)

Kindland looks cleaner, slicker, and most significantly, while most cannabis content aims for male viewers and readers, Kindland really pushes a lot of its content toward women with items like “Colorado Funds Study To Examine THC in Mama’s Breast Milk” to a profile of Cassandra Maffey, a “master grower.”

Most surprising was a video, “How to Make THC-A Crystalline Hash at Home” featuring a mother who makes it for her daughter who suffers from seizures. Forty percent of Kindland’s audience are women. They rate a tab up top, to the right of “wellness” and to the left of “culture.”

While there’s growth potential, there are also obstacles. Marijuana is widely accepted but also not widely-enough accepted.

“We have to really kind of construct thoughtfully what will be high intent for people interested in cannabis, that will also be engaging,” France explains, “but maybe a little more safe, universal, or ‘bright and shiny’ for the average Facebook user to share with their friend base.”

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