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The Challenges Of Working As Influencers In The Cannabis Industry

Angela February 11, 2019

More and more legitimate brands are popping up and with the advertising limitations in the cannabis industry; influencers are a great option for exposure. Cannabis influencer and brand relationships aren’t without problems though. Here are some of the biggest collaboration issues we heard from influencers and brands:

Getting paid

Since banking has been a huge problem in the industry, it’s no wonder so many of the influencers we spoke to complained of not getting paid in a timely manner.

“It’s a pain when these companies can’t get you paid in good time because they were kicked off PayPal or lost their credit card processing. I’ve seen a lot of it and banking in the industry, as a whole, remains a pain in the butt.”

John of @CarverJohns

Another challenge is the lack of budget for influencer work or no budget at all and offering free product instead of payment.

“I have been asked probably by over 70 CBD brands to post on social in exchange for a free bottle of CBD. Honestly, free samples don’t pay the bills.”

Dr. Michele Ross, PhD

One influencer was fed up with asking for payment over and over before finally getting the agreed payout. Her theory is that the business end of these companies was such a mess that they just weren’t on top of it.

“Having to ask 3 or 4 or 5 times to get an invoice paid; that’s not what I want to do.”

Coral Reefer

Is the brand on the up and up?

Influencers may want to make sure the brand is licensed and allowed to sell in their region. Just because someone is doing business doesn’t mean they are following all the guidelines of their locale. And, hello, federal is still trying to figure it all out. As an influencer you need to decide what you stand for, where you draw the line and who to work with.

This is an interesting time as many people, organizations, and companies are working tirelessly to get legalization in their area. We need to recognize that these are the groups who will do everything they can to operate legally once that option is available. But we all know there are companies who are out to make a quick buck and don’t care about the consumer in the same way. Do your research before jumping in to a partnership with a company.

See what happened to this instagram influencer who didn’t do their homework first.

Requests for live consumption

You want me to do what on video?!?! For many people, broadcasting yourself smoking weed is risky business. Not only are you more likely to get yourself kicked off the social platforms you’ve worked so hard to build up but there could be greater legal consequences if certain government officials are paying attention.

“If you are looking for someone to smoke weed to promote your brand, someone with a PhD or MD after their name you have a 99.9% chance that person will turn you down. There’s not enough compensation from brands to buffer the potential short-term and long-term consequences of those sponsored posts. Talking about tinctures, topicals, edibles, and other non-smokable forms of cannabis, or talking about vaporizers without necessarily having to be using them myself? I’m game for working with brands on that.”

Dr. Michele Ross, PhD

Getting physical product to the influencer

Shipping product across state lines is tricky if not dangerous. So if the influencer and brand aren’t operating in the same state, delivery of product can be nearly impossible. If following state regulations is something you’re trying to do, it’s best to work with brands in your delivery area or travel to them. Unlike many other industries, you can’t simply pop the items in the mail for reviews and photo ops on Instagram.

Ensuring marketing compliance across state regulations

Compliance with marketing regulations in the cannabis industry can be tough, but if you’re working with influencers/brands in a different state it gets loads harder. And what if the influencer is in a state that hasn’t even legalized yet? Are they committed to following marketing regs? If not, you need to think about how that could that impact your brand or personal equity.

Too many issues?

While several of the influencers we spoke to were excited about new bigger opportunities to work with larger more established legal cannabis brands; there were still many complaints. One popular vlogger, Coral Reefer, decided to give up working with companies all together and focus on the cannabis plant and her glass art. Check out her video with the many reasons for her departure from promotional cannabis posts.

What challenges have you encountered as an influencer working in the cannabis industry or as a brand working with canna influencers? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Angela is a digital marketer and content strategist in the cannabis industry. She has a passion for fitness, nutrition & wellness and looks forward to uncovering more benefits of cannabis through her work. Contact Angela with business or consulting inquiries here.

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