TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  1. What Are Government Relations?
  2. Why Are Government Affairs Important in Cannabusiness?
  3. Can Government Relations Affect Privileged Cannabis Licenses?
  4. How Can I Create Change In Cannabis Legislation?
  5. But What If I Don’t Want To Invest In Government Affairs
  6. 3 Tips On Hiring Government Affairs For Your Cannabusiness

In 2021, Cannabis is political. Therefore, experts advise cannapreneurs stay on top of the latest government relations in cannabis business on a daily basis.

The consequences of ignoring public policy in the cannabis industry can be bad. As a cannabis entrepreneur, not being in-the-know with federal, state, and regional policies can run the risk of serious punishment.

In this article, we talked to communications expert, Scot Rutledge, to learn more about the importance of government relations in the cannabis industry. We’ll also explore how you can play an active role in cannabis legislation and 3 essential tips to follow when hiring a government affairs specialist.

government affairs in cannabis business

What Are Government Relations?

Government relations influence public policy and strengthen relationships with political changemakers locally, regionally, and nationally

Government Relations are a subtype of public relations (PR). In short, it describes how organizations and businesses create productive relations with the government.

A lot of people may have the knowledge of what they want to do, but they may not know how to effectuate their plan at the government level. That’s where government affairs specialists come in.” – Scot Rutledge

Why Are Government Affairs Important in Cannabusiness?

Government Affairs are an important part of any business enterprise, especially for the cannabis business. 

Here’s why:

  • You need to be in the know with who’s making decisions in your industry. 
  • It’s important to track what’s happening with the laws and regulations within your region that may affect your business. 
  • You can help create new laws being formed in the cannabis industry as it grows. 

Most importantly, being proactive with government affairs signifies that you’re on top of changes in your industry and they affect your business.

cannabis government affairs man reading newspaper

Can Government Relations Affect Privileged Cannabis Licenses?

Cannabis licenses are considered privileged licenses and are expected to operate under strict rules that differs by state and region. Maintaining positive government relations with your local elected officials will be important to maintaining your privileged cannabis business license.

With Privileged Licenses, especially when they’re limited, the risk of your license being taken away can come down to the smallest details. Therefore, a relationship at the local and jurisdictional level with elected officials will certainly come in handy.

You’ll be able to reach out in case you need land use approvals, zoning permissions/permits, or compliance advice for your cannabis business, for instance. 

How Can I Create Change in Cannabis Legislation?

If you already have a privileged cannabis license, you can start to think bigger. For example, you could help to lay the foundation for the next generation of cannabis business owners

Partnering with a government affairs representative who has built rapport with state and local officials can play in your favor if you want to help move forward local rules, regulations, and ordinances. 

The trained affairs specialist you select won’t have to be a full-time expert in the cannabis industry, they’ll just need to effectively communicate your goal and make sure that you can get the votes or approvals needed. As a result, you’ll be helping to create positive change in a new industry that needs the voices of business owners like you. 

government building

But What If I Don’t Want To Invest In Government Affairs?

Understandably, cannabis entrepreneurs aren’t looking forward to adding another cost to their business plan. However, a lack of a government affairs strategy can end up costing far more in terms of lost opportunity. 

Remember, government affairs gives your business clout, meaning strong influence or power in your sector.

The cannabusinesses you see in media or print with political clout have gotten there through investing in government affairs. Good government affairs will ensure that your business remains competitive regardless of who the decision-makers are or which political party is in control. A government affairs strategy will help you remain focused on your business and the industry versus the whims of who’s sitting in the hot seat.

“If you don’t invest in government affairs and political strategy, you won’t know what you don’t know. You won’t have the knowledge of what’s currently happening to your industry and how to address it.” – Scot Rutledge

3 Tips On Hiring Government Affairs For Your Cannabusiness

Find The Right Person

If your company can afford to have in-house government affairs, start there.

The person you hire should live and breathe politics, understand compliance, manage campaign budgets, recognize how laws are being drafted, and how new laws will affect operations.

Go Local

Your hired professional should have a deep understanding of your state and local region’s legislation. For example, a good lobbying firm in California would be rendered unable to help you if your business is in Illinois. 

Government affairs should be localized because it’s all about relationships. Consequently, having a face attached to your company carries weight in our digitally centric world.

Your in-house government affairs specialist will meet with elected officials and be the political figurehead of your business. They’ll possess a comprehensive knowledge of your business, allowing them to speak effectively on your behalf. 

Be Resourceful

If you can’t afford in-house political advisory, seek outside professional services. They’ll be able to assess your current political strategy and help you build relationships with decision-makers.

If you aren’t sure where to start, ask companies that you know and trust, even if they’re not in the same industry, who they consult with. For good measure, get at least 2-3 proposals when hiring professional services for your government affairs needs.

Let’s Build Your Cannabusiness

In conclusion, our hope is that this article has helped you to understand the importance of government relations for cannabis businesses. 

Whether you’re leaning towards hiring a governmental strategist in-house or a cannabis PR specialist, we’re here to support and advise. Our team of industry experts can turn your business’ CSR goals into actionable strategies that truly make a difference in the world. 

Ready to work together? Contact us today.

Glory Finnegan