Clio Cannabis is gearing up for its third-annual Clio Cannabis Awards in Las Vegas this September. Clio is also partnering with
Clio Cannabis was launched in 2019 and aims to set the bar for creative work in cannabis, while building a greater understanding of developing categories within the industry and also elevating innovative contributions from top talent and agencies.
It is currently accepting submissions in a number of categories, including Advocacy, Brand Design, Digital/Mobile, Film/Video, Partnerships & Collaborations, Print & Out of Home, Product Design, Social Media and Social Good mediums.
The jury, composed of an “esteemed group of executives,” will deliberate in September to evaluate submissions across each category and determine which entries set the bar for excellence in the cannabis industry for each specialization.
The winners will be revealed at the Clio Cannabis Awards at the MJ Unpacked Las Vegas on Sept. 25.
The 2022 Clio Cannabis Awards Jury
To get an idea of what to expect, High There caught up with five of the Clio Cannabis Awards jurors to see what they were most looking forward to this year and gauge their expectations as September approaches.
One of the jurors, House of Puff Founder and CEO Kristina Lopez Adduci, said her “heart and spirit lie within the social justice space,” so she is most excited to judge within the Social Good category.
“I think we’ll see a lot of clever collaborations. 2022 was tough for a lot of brands, and folks had to get creative. So I think we’ll see out of the box partnerships in really unique ways,” Lopez Adduci said.
She’s in good company. Dale Sky Jones, executive chancellor at Oaksterdam University, also expressed her excitement to see the work folks are doing around Advocacy, Social Good and Partnerships & Collaboration in the cannabis space. Sky Jones also said she expects to see more brands at the Clio Cannabis Awards embracing a similar aim — working to end the stigma around cannabis and additionally encouraging “conversations among people who aren’t traditionally seen as consumers or home growers.”
Growing Impact Founder and CEO Annie Davis similarly nodded to the Social Good and Partnerships & Collaborations categories as the two she is most looking forward to judging.
“At this point in the industry’s development, brands and retailers are fighting for the same group of consumers,” Davis said. “The more that we can grow that pie — bring new consumers into the category — the more value to be created for all. Furthermore, given how tight the cannabis capital markets are today, marketers have to work with slim budgets, so collaboration is key. Pooling resources in order to create more compelling content, and distribute it more broadly, will be critical to the industry’s success.”
Davis nodded to last year’s awards, where the vast majority of Clios were awarded to cannabis entrants for video and social content. This year, she expects that trend to increase, along with an uptick in use of TikTok and other non-Meta social platforms, “given Facebook’s limitations and Instagram’s aggressive shadow banning and account shutdowns.”
Juror Mehka King, host of the “CashColorCannabis” podcast and the filmmaker behind The Color Green: Cash, Color, and Cannabis, also has digital media front and center on his radar.
King similarly said he’s most excited to judge within his field, specifically nodding to the Film & Video Craft category. In regard to his expectations for the upcoming awards, King said, “Animation. I think there are companies that are really using animation in some great ways when it comes to advertising. I’d love to see more animation used to tell brand stories.”
Though, he adds that his best prediction for the September event is that he will “most likely be blown away by all the creativity in the room.”
King is joined by Whitney Beatty, CEO of The Apothecarry Brands, in their mutual interest in film and entertainment.
“As a MFA and former filmmaker who worked in entertainment for 15 years, and a cannabis advocate, film advocacy is right up my alley! I’m excited to see the ways that people are using film to tell stories from the space in new, different ways,” Beatty said. “One of the reasons I got into the space was because of how frustrated I was about how cannabis was depicted in media.”
Understanding the Trials and Triumphs of the Industry
As leaders in the cannabis space themselves, the jurors know firsthand how tumultuous navigating the ever-evolving industry can be. However, they each shared their own personal triumphs looking back on their tenure and ahead toward the future.
Beatty said that getting Josephine And Billies opened was her biggest accomplishment in the industry, citing the challenge of getting a social equity dispensary off the ground.
“Securing the funding is hard, the licensing is difficult, developing a unique concept around a demographic that is underserved required lots of convincing. But it was worth it,” Beatty said.
Lopez Adduci nodded to House of Puff’s collaboration with author, social justice advocate, and artist Chris Wilson for the second edition of its artist series rolling papers and nonprofit, Solitary Watch.
“The rolling papers featured Wilson’s powerful painting, Positive Delusions, which memorializes the positive thoughts he focused on to get himself through the torment of solitary confinement,” Lopez Adduci said, and a percentage of the proceeds from the collaboration go directly to Wilson. An additional percentage goes to Solitary Watch, which works to fully inform policymakers and the American public about the harms of solitary confinement.
King highlighted the consistency within the “CashColorCannabis” podcast, which launched back in 2016, as one of his proudest moments. The podcast records live each Tuesday from Atlanta, Georgia, a state which he said is “not the most canna-friendly.”
“To keep the show going this long, having as many guests as we had and being able to branch out into everything from event production to producing a web-series,” King said. “It was all about staying consistent and true to the message.”
Sky Jones nodded to the Oaksterdam Alumni, which she said is “changing the world, one country and community at a time, bringing high-quality training and education to social equity programs, leaders in the industry, and policy-makers worldwide.”
Davis circles back to the Clio Cannabis Awards themselves and said her greatest accomplishment was leading the Flow Cannabis Co. marketing team to three Clio Awards in 2021, “for our Sungrown Challenge campaign that pitted top-shelf sungrown flower from the Emerald Triangle against top-selling indoor flower from LA in a blind ‘smoke off’ by 27 influential members of the industry and media.”
The campaign launched in May 2021 as sungrown prices were tanking lower than they had ever been. Davis said the campaign wasn’t meant to promote the brand but to call into question why buyers were paying sometimes double the price for flower cultivated under electricity, not the sun’s rays.
“By highlighting how 60 percent of cannabis experts preferred sungrown, we hoped to shift that narrative,” Davis said.
Looking Ahead at the Future of Cannabis
As innovators working directly within the cannabis space, and professionals who continually witness creative cannabis innovation firsthand, the jurors also have high hopes for the future of the industry. The resounding sentiment was around increased diversity, ensuring that the cannabis space continues growing as an industry that welcomes and uplifts all people, especially those most marginalized historically by the criminalization of cannabis.
Lopez Adduci and King both pointed to increased equity in communities of color as goals for the future. As a Puerto Rican woman, Lopez Adduci said she hopes the industry can grow to create generational wealth for communities of color.
“As cannabis goes mainstream, it’s critical that we use this opportunity to right as many wrongs from the War on Drugs as we can,” she said.
King echoed the sentiment, saying he hopes that more people of color get a seat at the table as the cannabis industry continues to grow, “From executive levels and business owners to creators behind and in front of the camera and more,” he said. “Having the ability to tell our story from our perspective is needed in order for the complete story of cannabis to ever honestly be told.”
Sky Jones also highlighted the need to elevate folks from marginalized communities, while shining a light on small business owners needing space to thrive. “Small business is the backbone of the economy, this industry should be no different,” she said.
Beatty added that customers already value equity businesses and backstories, backing up their support with their purchasing decisions, and she hopes this leads to more diversity within the cannabis space. As more folks continue to gravitate toward these businesses, “I’m hoping that turns into more investment in these companies,” Beatty said.
Davis highlighted another pervasive topic in cannabis, specifically sharing her hopes that cannabis professionals can better leverage their toolkits in marketing and advertising to engage consumers with the cannabis history and culture that got society to where we are today. Davis cited the “tug-of-war” taking place today, pitting “legacy” against “corporate,” logic she said is flawed.
“Cannabis consumers win when they are able to legally access products that are high quality, tested for safety, and available where they live,” Davis said. “By showcasing the benefits of legal cannabis—while staying true to the culture from which it came — I believe that we can grow the market for all.”
The final deadline for entries is July 22. For more information about the Clio Cannabis Awards or to enter work, visit the event’s