Respect My Region's Mitch Pfeifer on the New World of Cannabis

The opportunities in the space, and what companies aren't getting right about hiring

Mitch Pfeifer is the founder and CEO of Respect My Region, a digital lifestyle publication and marketing agency. He’s written over 1,200 articles about cannabis and music published across various websites, publications and magazines. In a previous life, Mitch was a legacy cannabis operator who also worked in retail, sports apparel, the music industry and real estate marketing. 

In 2011, Mitch started Respect My Region as a lifestyle brand. He threw concerts and events all over the Pacific Northwest, selling clothing through e-commerce, traditional retail channels and medical cannabis dispensaries. Following recreational cannabis legalization in Washington state in 2016, Mitch combined his cannabis, content and marketing experience to move into the recreational cannabis space. 

We spoke with Mitch for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in cannabis.

Mitch, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in Memphis. Grew up in the middle of Washington state and have lived in the Portland and Seattle metro areas. I currently live in Everett, Washington.

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am the founder and owner of Respect My Region, a digital music, cannabis, lifestyle platform and marketing agency. We work remote but are based out of Seattle and Los Angeles.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Cannabis has been pretty fundamental to my life. It funded the start of my business and many creative endeavors that have taught me a ton of skills and an abundance of insight into who I am as a person. While I never was a medical patient, I've dealt with chronic back pain since the age of 20. While cannabis does help a little bit with the pain, it's been the most effective way to relax my mind. When dealing with chronic pain, you have a nuisance that you can never turn off and it takes a mental toll on you. Cannabis helps greatly in that area for me.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

I predominately smoke flower but I also regularly consume edibles, beverages and vape carts. I really love a great OG Kush or Gelato strain. Whether it's those strains straight up or a genetic variation, Kush's and Gelatos are my preferred smokes. I really enjoy the Marathon OG from The Cure Company, Pluto from GasHouse and recently had this Zashmi from Laughing Gas that was insane.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

I think the biggest challenge cannabis markets face today is a lack of understanding of the space and companies' approach to hiring. You see many "experts" in markets that have only had legal cannabis for a year or two yet larger companies are hiring for experience outside cannabis and smaller orgs don't have the budget to pay for talent. You have a mix of those that don't understand culture and nuance and under-skilled workers with expectations to handle too many parts of the marketing funnel.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

Everything about cannabis is exciting to me, honestly, The fact that I came from a space of not trying to talk about anything cannabis for fear of going away, to living in a time where I'm paid to amplify discussions of cannabis as much as possible, is mind-blowing to me. As far as being excited about a specific aspect of cannabis, I'm a big flower guy and breeding is going nuts right now. There's a lot of crazy genetics and crossing going on, and it's a great time to be a consumer. Gelato 41 seems to be a hot strain to cross and that's something I enjoy smoking.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

40 Tons. They're a social impact brand but GREAT people who do the Lord's work. Will aim to highlight them in any conversation I can.

A project you worked on recently that you're proud of.

We have the first RMR curated flower product dropping in Washington soon. We've been pheno-hunting genetics with the House of Cultivar team for over a year and it's been a bucket-list project. I've spent a lot of time smoking and handling cannabis dreaming of one day maybe creating a strain, and we got to be apart of that process and it combines a few of my favorite genetics of all time.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I was really a big fan of the CANN rollout. It's not super current, but the way they rolled their brand out with celebrity integration was incredible. High-influence celebs were talking about the value propositions during key moments like on the Ellen show; it obviously launched the brand in a major way but also is the type of marketing and influence that can help fight the stigma, and I love that.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Not to aim at the top of the food chain or anything, but Berner is obviously killing it. I recently interviewed him and got to pick his brain quite a bit, and I really enjoy Cookies' approach to strain and product branding and positioning.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

I'd either be pursuing music marketing, marking in the tech space for the paycheck, or teaching high school.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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