At the risk of dating myself, I started my career in 1996 just when digital marketing was becoming a thing. I landed a job at Modem Media, the world’s first interactive agency where, as a researcher, it was my job to help our clients and designers understand what consumers wanted in websites. It doesn’t sound all that groundbreaking just a little over two decades later, but it was at theĀ time.

I found that I enjoyed the process of understanding what people wanted in “things” and then translating those desires (and the reasons driving them) into tangible items or experiences. I also found that I loved working in a space where the rules were being made as we went along and discovered that I thrived on uncertainty; I didn’t blink at the prospect of having to do something for the first time. It was liberating to work in an environment where I learned just as much from making mistakes as I did from the various mentors that I had.

These days, I work as a qualitative researcher (self-employed) and am happy to say that listening to consumers and translating their stories into insights my clients can use to build better “things” remains at the core of what I do. Recently, though, I’ve been feeling an itch to do something new; not get out of the research business (I have three kids who leave for college in just a little over two years), but to explore some new ground and work my way into a new industry, one that reminds me of the very early days of Internet marketing. That’s where The Grass Ceiling comes in.

A majority of states (29) have legalized marijuana for medicinal use and 9 have legalized it for adult recreational use; a number that could go to 10 depending on what happens in New Jersey. Supporting this industry are a variety of people including growers who oversee production (indoor and outdoor) of crops, dispensary owners who distribute it to patients in various forms, product developers who create innovative ways to ingest the drug, and lawmakers who are fighting for or against legalization. All of them have stories to tell and I intend to capture them through The Grass Ceiling podcast and blog.

I’m segmenting these interviews into three categories:

  • Entrepreneurs – those people involved in production and distribution of legal cannabis as well as people who work in a professional capacity supporting them (lawyers, architects, product developers, etc.).
  • Lawmakers and Law Enforcement – those working at the state and federal level to fight for (or against) marijuana laws. In addition, we’ll talk to law enforcement officers to uncover their opinions on how decriminalization has impacted crime in those states where medicinal use or adult recreational use is legal.
  • Patients – people who use marijuana to treat a specific medical condition (names will be changed to protect privacy). Their stories will paint a picture of those who’s lives are being impacted by this industry.

I invite you to join me on this adventure as I’m not really sure where it will lead (but I’m okay with that). If nothing else, this project will satisfy my curiosity around watching a nascent industry expand as stakeholders face the hurdles that are placed in front of them. However, it might lead to something even bigger; after all, producers might find that they need the market research services I offer to help with branding, positioning, communications, and product development though I’ll underscore that commercialization of The Grass Ceiling is not the goalĀ (but should that be a byproduct I wouldn’t all that upset).

The podcast is available here and can be subscribed to and downloaded from all the big podcast providers. If you like what you hear, please tell a friend about it. If you know someone who you’d think would be a good guest, visit our homepage and find the “refer a guest” form about halfway down. Finally, as a researcher, I invite you to share your thoughts about what you hear and read on The Grass Ceiling – all posts will have comments enabled; you can also engage with The Grass Ceiling community through our online forum.

Happy listening,

Michael Carlon, Host – The Grass Ceiling Podcast


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