Darren Roberts knows a lot about the publishing business.
He also knows how to publish magazines on topics outside the mainstream, such as the adult entertainment industry – and now the cannabis industry.
A year ago, Roberts, chief executive of Cann Media Group LLC in Woodland Hills, debuted Mg magazine, a national monthly publication aimed at the owners of dispensaries, growing operations and other businesses associated with marijuana.
A slick 80-plus page publication, Mg looks to not only inform and educate business owners but has higher aspirations of changing how the cannabis industry and those working in it are viewed by themselves as well as by the general public.
“We perceive it as professionals, as creative individuals,” said the 47-year-old Roberts, referring to his audience. “We don’t need to have pot plants all over the magazine for an industry where we all deal in that.”
Cann Media and Mg are part of a booming industry in the United States.
The fourth edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets study prepared by New Frontier, a cannabis analysis firm in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco’s ArcView Group, estimated that this year the combined medical and adult-use sales of the drug in the United States at about $7.1 billion. Sales are expected to grow to $23 billion by 2020.
California is one of 11 states with voter initiatives on the November ballot to legalize marijuana for either recreational or medicinal use. The state has allowed medicinal use of pot since 1996.
Despite all this activity one fact remains – marijuana is still illegal and considered to be a controlled substance by the federal government, which puts it into the same category as cocaine and heroin. Congress, however, has taken steps to keep the Drug Enforcement Agency from enforcing the laws in states where cannabis use is allowed.
The business model for the magazine is based on advertising, which includes lighting equipment manufacturers, cannabis edible and oil companies, vape pen distributors and legal services and consulting. Ad rates for a full page start at $2,200 and go to $5,000 for premium positioning.
Some 16,000 copies are distributed for free to a qualified readership of business owners vetted by Roberts. Paid subscribers number about 500 and newsstands and bookstores such as Barnes & Noble add in another few thousand copies.
Roberts expects that Cann Media, which operates from a series of offices and cubicles on the second floor of a two-story office building in the Warner Center area, will be profitable by the third quarter of next year.