Week in Review: Budweiser Sponsorship of Arkansas Medical Marijuana Event Fizzles

By Chris Walsh

A red-hot story circled the Web recently about Budweiser sponsoring a fundraising event for medical marijuana legalization in Arkansas.

It sounded too good to be true – and in the end that’s exactly what it was. Budweiser didn’t actually sponsor the event, held last Saturday, or underwrite the venue. In fact, it wasn’t involved at all.

The erroneous information – announced in a press release issued ahead of the event – was the result of miscommunication among organizers, according to Melissa Fults, campaign director at Arkansas for Compassionate Care.

A local Budweiser distributor had been trying to get corporate to sign on as a sponsor and was negotiating with company officials but ultimately was unsuccessful. Somewhere along the communication chain it was portrayed as a done deal, leading to the press release by Americans for Safe Access, which is also supporting the legalization bid.

The two main take-aways:

#1. Communication can be a huge challenge when you have a statewide campaign involving different groups, so it deserves extra attention – especially if you’re going to issue a press release about a fairly big development with broad implications for the industry. “If you’re not very, very careful information can get passed on that’s not correct or misunderstood, and that can result in a great big mistake,” Fults said.

#2. Major corporate brands are still not ready to publicly put their weight behind medical cannabis and the industry in general. So we might not see a large, well-known company get involved – via sponsorships, donations or partnerships with existing cannabis companies – for a while.

But they are starting to kick the tires and consider the possibilities. It appears that Budweiser officials were willing to hear out the local distributor, and that’s a step in the right direction.

Getting a corporate giant such as Anheuser Busch – which makes Budweiser, one of the oldest, most recognizable brands in the world – to support MMJ legalization would help push medical cannabis into the mainstream. It also could tip the scales in favor of legalization efforts across the country, especially in the conservative South, where medical marijuana has not yet made inroads.

The good news in Arkansas is that although the event didn’t bring in a ton of money, it was successful in other ways.

Supporters gathered 209 signatures and registered 10 people to vote. The group now has 6,000 signatures. That puts Arkansans for Compassionate Care well ahead of where it was at this time two years ago when it was gathering signatures for a measure that eventually appeared on the 2012 ballot (it was narrowly defeated).

The group needs to gather roughly 62,000 by July 7 to qualify the measure for the 2014 ballot.

“To get that many signatures in a small town in just a day was huge,” Fults said. “We are on track and energized.”

Top stories in Marijuana Business Daily this week:

Local Decrim Laws Could Impact MMJ Businesses

Judge Upholds Limits on Arizona Home Grows

MI Bill to Allow Medical Cannabis Sales Via Dispensaries Advances

Guest Column: 5 Misconceptions About Illinois MMJ Law

Audit Advice: Handle it ‘Like Nitrogylcerin’

LA Attorney Sues Marijuana Dispensary

2 comments on “Week in Review: Budweiser Sponsorship of Arkansas Medical Marijuana Event Fizzles
  1. Sandra on

    Our cannabis publication has been partnering with mainstream brands for years for product reviews and giveaways. Brands are seeking to partner with the cannabis community if the image portrayed is not going to be harmful to the brand. We have a very targeted product review policy, so it ends up a great match for many brands that are pleased with the quality of traffic they receive from us.

    Not sure if Budweiser is an appropriate brand match for cannabis…. we don’t advertise alcohol at all or partner for reviews on that.

    Reply
  2. Cisco on

    As far as I’m concerned Budweiser has no business in medical marijuana. What do they know about compassion or medicine, their product ( while legally accessible with a driver’s license mind you) kills thousands upon thousands of people a year, and take in to account all related deaths alcohol causes various cancers it creates in the cells, depression..etc…no thanks Budweiser. Next it’ll bea cigarette manufacturer throwing an event

    Reply

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