Well, hello again.
Funny how we keep running into each other like this. Last time we spent time together was December 2017—ahh, the holiday crush—when I was lucky enough to grace the cover of this fine publication.
And now I’m back! Only this time, I’m writing from inside the belly of the beast, as mg’s new national cannabis columnist.
I’m obviously excited to share this news with you, our readers, and it’s important for you to know we’re announcing the news here first—before Twitter, before the press release goes out, before I even tell my own mother. Because without you, there is no mg. Too often media outlets forget their true North Star: the readers.
But not this time. My colleagues and I are announcing our new partnership here (and later on Twitter, via press release, and a call to my mom) because we want your help in shaping what this column ultimately becomes. We have lots of ideas, to be sure, but as we struggled to choose just one focus for this new endeavor, which will appear in print and online, I had a zany suggestion for mg’s editorial board:
“What if we ask our readers what they want from me and this column?”
Their interest was piqued, so we kicked around the crowd-sourced construct on a few phone calls to test its merits.
Above all else, mg serves cannabis industry professionals the world over, offering a singular focus on the people, plants, and products fueling the unprecedented growth of this trailblazing sector. Those three Ps—people, plants, and products—are so central to mg’s mission that you’ll see how they define the magazine’s editorial direction every time you thumb through the print version or click around on mgretailer.com. But there are other Ps in there, too, including politics, psychopharmacology, and policy—and plenty of other categories from other headings in the dictionary.
As for me and what I bring to the mix: You might have read in mg’s December cover story that I’m an experienced journalist who has been covering drug policy for five-plus years. As The Denver Post’s first-ever cannabis editor, I founded and served as editor-in-chief of groundbreaking site The Cannabist, where my team and I unexpectedly became the subjects of the documentary film Rolling Papers (still available on Netflix). I left The Cannabist and the Post in December 2016 to create Grasslands—a full-service communications agency helping businesses in marijuana, hemp, and other industries with public relations, content, events, and thought-leadership—but I still cover the industry for The Daily Beast. I’ve also written for Cannabis Now and Sensi Magazine.
“I like the idea,” the mg editorial gang told me after a few minutes spent kicking the tires. “But do you think it will work?”
“I do,” I said. And right here is where I unveil my big ask to you, dear reader, because you are instrumental in making this crazy idea work.
My question to you is simple: What do you want me to cover in these pages in the months and years to come?
Would you like in-depth features about the worldwide industry’s top decision-makers, or perhaps deep take-outs that discuss and dissect the various regulatory environments, revealing the most business-friendly states and provinces for specific subsections of the legal cannabis industry?
Would you like me to break down the biggest issues of the day with thoughtful perspective and insider knowledge, or perhaps you’d prefer columnizing on the future-forward trends we’re starting to see in today’s leading-edge environments? What if this column specifically chronicled the creeping process of normalization, closely monitoring our shared experiences as legal marijuana increasingly becomes the law of the land the globe over?
Or maybe you’d rather this column didn’t have a specific focus, allowing me to editorialize on whatever strikes my fancy each month?
As I said, I know this is a big ask. We’re all too busy for our own good, and corresponding with a journalist you’ve never met likely falls at the bottom of the ever-growing to-do list on your phone. But I wouldn’t ask you for your thoughts and time if I didn’t see the potential reward for both of us.
Just think about it: How often does a media brand reach out specifically for your feedback? And this isn’t some faceless survey tangentially related to the article you’re trying to pull up in a browser. This is me giving you my official email address (email@example.com) and my personal Twitter handle (@bruvs), respectfully asking for thoughtful input that will absolutely shape the future of what is covered in this column.
Here’s how this will work: If you’re hitting me up on Twitter, you know how to do that (again, @bruvs). If you’re emailing me, start your subject line with “My ideas for mg’s national cannabis columnist” and tell me what you think. Whether two sentences or two pages, I promise to read and consider everything sent my way.
What a great experiment this could be! Writer and readers, ideating and conversing together to determine the direction of a column before the column gets started in earnest. What a triumph of modern technology and thoughtful communication this could be. Yet, on the flip side, there’s also a chance this conversation is one-sided and falls flat, with you deciding you aren’t interested in participating or don’t have five to ten minutes for such an endeavor.
So really, it’s all up to you. I’ve done my part. After hours of conversations and brainstorming and more hours spent writing this initial correspondence and unusual proposal, I’m turning this crowd-sourced experiment over to mg’s readers, and I’m hoping some of you recognize the unique opportunity ahead and reach out my way in the coming days.
I will follow up on this modest proposal, and the feedback I hope is to come, in the next issue of mg.
Ricardo Baca is a veteran journalist, thought leader in the legal cannabis space, and founder of Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency that handles public relations, content marketing, social media, events, and thought leadership for brands and executives in legal cannabis and other industries.
Have an idea for our national cannabis columnist? Send your thoughts to Ricardo Baca via Twitter @bruvs or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to start your subject line with “My ideas for mg’s national cannabis columnist.”