A dramatic price rise by dispensary listing service Weedmaps has dispensaries and delivery services seeking alternatives.
by Rowan Nathan · September 11, 2023
Just as dispensary owners are feeling the squeeze from increased competition, WeedMaps has put the hurt on their marketing budgets. Dispensary owners and weed brands are lighting up LinkedIn and other social media channels to protest Weedmaps price hikes. WeedMaps was already an expensive proposition, now with a late 2023 price hike the math is even more unlikely.
Diane Kessler of Coast to Coast Cannabis wrote on LinkedIn: "We used to pay $495 for our basic listing. They are NOW charging us $1695 for the same listing."
Prolific video maker and industry opinion leader Elliot Lewis from Catalyst Cannabis Co. rants in a LinkedIn post "Now they moved the minimum tile [price] from $495 to $1700 - peace out WeedMaps! We ain't gonna do it."
Kenneth Churchill of West Coast Cannabis Club writes: "Dropping my Weedmaps listings for all 4 of my locations in September after being a paying client for over 8 years. Called to tell me the basic portion of my listings would change from $495 to $1,600 per month, per location. That doesn’t include premium listing."
Mason Blumkin from MedMen wrote online "With $1600 you could do a LOT on other platforms, and I think many will choose to jump ship."
WeedMaps is now raising their prices to have a dispensary listed on their service. They're probably desperate for revenue to please impatient shareholders. WeedMaps valuation as a company plunged from $1.5 Billion in 2021 to $200 Million in 2023.
Meanwhile dispensary owners are paying more and more to feed a company with a reputation for taking money from their unlicensed competitors. WeedMaps has a long history of listing illegal weed dispensaries and delivery services. As recently as summer 2022, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed complaints alleging that Weedmaps’ leadership is “allowing vast amounts of black market activity through their website, and they know about it but won’t do anything about it.” A Los Angeles delivery company CanEx accused WeedMaps of leveraging ill-gotten revenue to boost their quarterly earnings: “by allowing illegal operators to advertise on their site they are misleading investors by unethically increasing their revenue, which is being reported as legitimate in quarterly reports.”
As dispensary owners contemplate paying more to someone who is accused of boosting operators outside the legal market, their frustration is pushing them to search for other options.
Where are these dispensary owners and operators taking their marketing budget?
CEO Lewis of Catalyst Cannabis is planning to add more staff to take on Google and more online marketing. But not every dispensary owner or brand is ready to increase headcount to find customers.
Many people will tell you to chase Google SEO. That's a solid strategy to get in front of local customers - it takes months and years to build a reputation. Part of reputation building is getting a link back to a dispensary's web site from a reputable domain. Relationships with those domains cost money - some are a better value than others.
Leafly lists dispensaries nationwide for a fee. Leafly has a reputation as a place you visit to research strains: their strain database has been an great asset for the weed community over the years. But Leafly is not necessarily the place customers think to visit to figure out how to score fire weed or some gummies.
POS systems like Dutchie and iheartjane might show a dispensary's menu, but they're not places customers go to look for weed online. Those sites are not optimized to help customers find cannabis near them - they're optimized to let their store clients shine for people coming from that store's web site or social media.
This blog Bud Media is part of bud.com, which helps people find weed near them. bud.com just launched a dispensary & delivery service listing program with amazing introductory pricing. For $299, less than what Weedmaps was charging before their price hikes, dispensaries can be "verified" in their local area. Discounts are available for a mutual link exchange. bud.com's Featured listings are much more affordable, and include the ability to post deals & photos for weed shoppers in cities across America.
The folks running bud.com began serving the medical cannabis market in California in 2011. bud.com has eschewed big investor money in favor of building out a sustainable business serving dispensaries, delivery services, and customers looking for weed near them.