Dozens of cannabis journalists I’ve spoken to in the past year say they’ve frequently faced late or missing payments, unanswered emails, and all manner of ‘getting the run-around’ from a growing list of cannabis publications or communications employers, from print outlets to online platforms. In the context of prior industry layoffs as well as COVID-19 realities, these complaints have only grown more common, and more dire.
The list of companies facing nonpayment allegations is still developing (and will be updated as needed on an ongoing basis), but well-known outlets that were mentioned in multiple workers’ accounts include High Times, Leafly, and Civilized, all of which have undergone major leadership and/or ownership changes in recent months (disclosure: I published several freelance pieces with Leafly in the past two years).
To be perfectly clear, up front: not every cannabis publication has or likely has a payment problem (at least, not the kind that can’t be found in nearly any industry among many workers at any time). In fact, cannabis media workers identified numerous publications they feel have tried in earnest to pay employees and/or contractors in a competitive or at least timely manner, and that have been largely successful, as far as those workers were aware.
Media companies also aren’t known for having a lot of cash on hand, and writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, and many other contractors (even at the most well-known and typeface-y publications) are typically used to payment processes that may take weeks or months — and occasionally years, or just days — depending on the company, and/or its bank account.