CannabisMD CEO Discusses Expansion, Ad Potential, a digital media company dedicated to breaking down the world of medicinal cannabis and CBD for its audience, launched just a little over a month ago. And it has tapped seasoned talent to lead the way.

Just last month, Michael Klein, former executive vice president, original content at MTV and executive vice president, programming and content strategy at Condé Nast Entertainment was tapped as the company’s new CEO.

Klein spoke with Publishing Insider about the space hopes to carve out for itself, the demographic leading the way for the cannabis and CBD industry and how his publication and others work to break down biases.

Publishing Insider: MRI recently released a new consumer audience segment report about cannabis users. What does this signal as to how revenue might change for cannabis-themed publications?  



Michael Klein: The MRI report was really interesting. With cannabisMD, we’re building a nonadvocacy platform with the world’s leading research and content around the potential benefits of medical cannabis and CBD with the goal of empowering consumers to make the choices that are right for them.

Looking at the MRI report and the way they broke up the various archetypes, they tend to focus on consumers that may already have a bias to the space. We’re looking at it a little differently. The consumers we’re targeting are curious, but don’t have a home where they can learn more about the potential benefits. That makes it interesting for us, when we think about how we work with brands.

PI: How is advertising ramping up so far?

MK: We launched five weeks ago, so we’re just beginning our meetings with advertisers. We’re creating a safe platform for brands to actually be a part of the conversation around cannabis and CBD. When I say safe platform, I’m talking about premium content reaching a premium audience, but also there’s no “smoke,” there’s no “weed,” there’s no stigmatizing language.

It’s designed to be a place where consumers find people they can respond to and content relevant to them.

When we talked about audiences and the underserved audiences, we’ve identified three groups that present opportunity.

One is called the chief medical officer mom who’s taking control of health and wellness, decisions for the household, very forward-thinking and looking at alternatives to traditional medicine.

The second is healthy agers. They’re 45+, their kids are gone or almost gone, they do not feel old, they’re looking for youth, vitality, forward-thinking.

The third group is influential and cultured millennials, 27+. This is a really interesting group. At 25, you can no longer be on your parents’ healthcare plan and for this particular group, the only message they’ve heard is “health care is broken, you’re being left behind.” They have a heavy distrust in institutional medicine and they’re looking for ways to integrate health and wellness into their lives and take control. This is why you see such an enormous spike and interest in CBD.

We did a piece of work recently looking at search terms in the U.S. putting CBD against food and wellness. Food was the most searched thing on the internet. CBD has now surpassed food. That third group is driving it all. It’s here, and it will just continue to grow.

PI: How can the industry work to break down biases held by traditional advertisers?

MK: We’re in the beginning of a significant cultural movement and change. Brands need to be a part of that cultural conversation. They need to be relevant for audiences.

Every day in the news cycle, there are new things happening, like Coca-Cola entering into discussions about a CBD-infused beverage line. Coca-Cola is American pie. That alone creates incredible consumer interest, which we see through search on our platform.

It also gives enormous permission to other brands to begin exploring the space and what it means to them, not only from a product perspective but including themselves in the conversation. I want to connect consumers and brands to explore together. 

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