Editorial Strategy

Embracing Purpose During Disruption: A Closer Look at Medical Cannabis

heart and brain graphic

When purpose aligns with the needs of your audience, the competition better watch out.


There is a potential change afloat in the $1.5 trillion pharmaceutical industry. Patients who are seeking relief from chronic pain and other symptoms are on a journey for cures. This includes driving interest in medical cannabis, which traditional doctors have been reluctant to consider. At the same time, medical cannabis companies have an opportunity to meet these patients on their journeys to provide not only information but to explain their missions – their purpose. From this shared sense of purpose, there is the opportunity to have disruption accelerated.  And the providers of the information – content marketers – can lead this disruption.

In the clip below, Dr. Alan Shackelford provides just one case of a patient for whom typical prescription medications just weren’t helping — and for whom medical cannabis offered profound improvements. Keep in mind, this is coming from a self-described “classically trained, very conservative physician.” He goes on to highlight the purpose underlying medical cannabis: “This is not about pot; this is about patients.”

In another great Ted Talk, Dr. David Casarett outlines what that really means. He visited several medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries under the guise of a patient in need and was floored by the amount of time physicians and employees spent discussing his condition, his goals and his fears, and explaining the nuances of the wide variety of treatment options.

“Think about the last time you went to any hospital or clinic, and the last time anybody spent an hour explaining those sorts of things to you,” Casarett asks the audience.

Medical cannabis gives the power back to the patient. The patient is free to try different treatments, different dose amounts and different frequency of doses, all without waiting weeks for an appointment or being told to continue with an unhelpful treatment for another three weeks before being allowed to try something different.

And I’ve witnessed this firsthand. I wrote earlier this year about my mother’s experience with Parkinson’s, so I won’t go into detail here. But the potential for disruption is very real — and content is what can unleash the purpose that will drive that disruption.

But this is a lesson for disruptors in any industry – and especially content marketers. Before launching any new campaigns, reflect on your purpose. Think of purpose as the thing that drives your business, or how your business gives back. In the case of medical cannabis, a company’s purpose could be to empower the patient, and to provide patients with a natural alternative to synthetic pharmaceuticals.

After you’ve identified your purpose, the next step is to understand your audience’s journey. In the case of medical cannabis, it’s currently patient-driven. As Dr. Shackelford describes, most doctors lack the research they need to feel comfortable recommending and prescribing cannabis. Content marketers need to create educational content that addresses both the rational questions a patient has (from the head) and the emotional questions (from the heart).

Once you know your purpose and your audiences’ journeys, the last step is to create consistent content that meets your audiences along the way. A consistent cadence increases the odds the content actually reaches your audience, and it makes it easier for them to take the next step in their journey when the time comes.

And if you think the giants facing medical cannabis or your business are too big to be disrupted, think again. When Prohibition was lifted in 1933, conglomerates began buying up the smaller distilleries and brew houses. In 2021, the beer industry’s revenues were $109 billion. The big companies control the biggest chunk of the market, yet craft companies now have a 27% share.

So, whether your company is in medical cannabis or another industry, keep this strategy in mind:

  • Know your purpose.
  • Understand your audience’s journey.
  • Publish and promote content consistently.

Disruption is absolutely possible, and it’s exciting to imagine what the future may hold.