Presenting a Controversial Topic on Social Media & My Final Thoughts
First off, I cannot express how blessed I feel to be a part of such a tight-knit, dynamic and supportive business network of people. A few months ago, I was researching how to get better at LinkedIn by growing a following of thought leaders, experts and influencers. Once you start this journey into the social media platforms, you realize that it’s a constantly moving labyrinth run by puppet masters on the other side. In researching applicable and relevant content, I thought it would be fun (and create a little splash) if I talked about something controversial. In today’s business climate and political climate, there is no other industry that better epitomizes the interweaving of relevance and controversy. Before we delve into the social media aspect, I want to provide some history on how I embarked on this journey into the medical marijuana industry.
Late last year, my South FL partner (Mike) and I decided to set sail on an uncharted journey into a sea of GREEN. The timing was fortuitous because his partners were interested in developing dispensaries, via an equity connection, and an old buddy of mine (Josh), had just taken a job with Surterra Wellness. We are still currently working with them and they have been a wonderful client.
What triggered this idea for a post was travel planning. I was thinking about going to Atlanta for a 4/20 board meeting and asked my friend Nick with Surterra if we could meet up. He said he couldn’t and for their company, it’s a real holiday (they even had 4/19 off this year because 4/20 fell on Saturday)—it made me think that we should post for the occasion and give our clients a shout out. Then for a brief time, self-doubt, maybe even a guilty feeling (like when you cut class in high school or when my Dad asked me if I had ever “smoked grass” when I was in college), started to kick in. Will this affect key relationships? Hurt my organization and the individuals I care about, potentially monetarily? Thirty seconds later I tamped that down like whack-a-mole and put my plan together knowing that if I did it right, the Archon team would not only approve but also support our marketing department, especially the glue of our organization (Maggie) and relish in our collective creativity.
At first, I thought about publishing an article on 4/20, but in reflecting, I realized that I was truly GREEN in this industry, only having started my journey a few months ago. Selling Cannabis in FL is such a diverse, rapidly growing and vertically integrated industry, that there has to be a thirst for knowledge and insight from experts in the CRE and general business communities. As mentioned previously, did we have concerns about negative blowback? Of COURSE, but I also realized that our team is in a fortunate space that we can bring these topics to light as a nimble boutique firm. I discussed with my partners and we took a shot thinking this is a topic that our friends, colleagues and the general business community want to learn more about, especially once they heard the plan that Maggie, Victor (ML Jordan) and I put together.
We took into consideration the recent legislation passed by Governor DeSantis and the fact that opioids and the heroin/fentanyl crisis are incarcerating and killing thousands of our community members. This pandemic is ravaging families like a wildfire whose fuel is destroying the lives of everyone involved—addicts and those who love them. Many don’t know this, but the extremely lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl, street named “China White”, is so deadly that the slightest miscalculation can result in an instantaneous death—an addict can shoot up in the parking lot of a trauma hospital and they wouldn’t have time to save him or her. The street name came about because the fentanyl (which is 50 times stronger than heroin) is produced in China and shipped to the states through the black market. The most troubling, frightening and downright insane part of this situation is that it is common knowledge that when the addicts hear that a user died, they want to buy that batch knowing that it’s strong. They will then dilute it down (in many cases still under the influence of their last high or suffering from withdrawal symptoms) outside of a scientific environment that’s optimal for measuring exact intravenous doses. I know this in detail from conversations with two close friends of mine. One is a DEA Agent and the other is an anesthesiologist with a fellowship in interventional pain management—a field I used to work in, but on the business/executive side. In my opinion, cannabis will directly affect addiction treatment, along with many other addictions over the long term, have a colossal effect on healthcare which directly ties to commercial real estate development. Want to keep reading about the issue? Here’s an insightful blog from Surterra Wellness on this matter.
All that being said, I decided to reach out to some friends in the cannabis industry with the goal of engaging a diverse group of experts and creative minds. I played with a few ideas and incorporated humor into a lot of my posts. Jon Hellein recommended changing some wording on a content piece we sent earlier in the week. I am glad I heeded his advice, because it might have cost us some credibility. Even though this is a controversial topic, I knew these posts would drive traffic for a few reasons:
- 71% of the voters approved of cannabis in 2016.
- People are genuinely interested in this topic, but many have no connection to it.
- Or contributors would catch the attention of industry influencers and key players.
- My commercial real estate colleagues are working deals, representing or marketing space to various cannabis companies.
- Those on the fence that don’t oppose cannabis (or maybe even secretly support it) but feel it might be viewed as unprofessional/don’t like the stigma being discussed or associated with their business. We understand there will be some negative feedback from some of our relationships. This is the group we took most into consideration.
- Those ethically opposed to it (some of whom are people I love).
My goal was to provide content that every single group mentioned above would find insightful for various personally motivated reasons. The easiest way to do good work is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in their areas of expertise and in many cases, smarter than you in general (my business partners and 11-year-old daughter come to mind first). Below is a quick recap of the week’s articles:
Ehren kicked it off discussing the stigma and his personal experience. I think that was an excellent start, showed the audience that we are taking this seriously and that we have strong writers contributing in this four-part series. Great word-smithing Ehren, you should seriously start publishing regularly. Good luck with that job search! Hopefully, this series helps.
Frank added fuel to the fire and the feedback from the commercial real estate community was amazing. There aren’t many people developing in the cannabis industry and Frank cleared up a lot of misconceptions. Great article Frank, let’s hit the Dojo soon!
Tara is indisputably a key influencer in the Florida legal community and cannabis industry. She provided an outstanding article on a real-time topic involving the governor of Florida. She is also active in a very dynamic organization called the Central Florida Debate Initiative. A very cool organization dedicated to allowing all students to participate in debate or public speaking in a supportive and educational environment. I think Jon Hellein should debate Tara next year to raise money for the Central Florida Debate Initiative!
Then at 4:20 on 4/20/2019, we posted the Surterra and Jimmy Buffet, Coral Reefer announcement! What can you say? Based on the number of views, you can tell there are a lot of Parrot Heads, Surterra Wellness customers and those interested in the Wrigley business legacy. We have been thrilled with the feedback and support from our friends, colleagues, advocates and a lot of people that we don’t know yet but are excited to meet in the future. We all hope you enjoyed this series and are excited about our 30-part series next year. After all, in 2020, it is 4/20 all month long.