SAN FRANCISCO – Completing a successful $980,000 round of financing, AMNESIA Media announced the launch of its effortlessly compliant software client HIGHLYTE, the first platform to use artificial intelligence to ensure social media safety in the highly regulated legal cannabis industry. Buffeted by rules which can be unclear and changeable from state to state, legal cannabis companies are frequently targeted for infractions by social media sites and regulators who are activated by the plant’s national status as an illegal substance. Highlyte by AMNESIA highlights a company’s potentially non-compliant text, images, and video before each posting goes live, thus avoiding damaging account deactivations and so-called “shadowban” practices that can be financially disastrous.
The stakes are high. Estimated to gross some $31 billion in national sales for 2021, a 41% increase over 2020 sales according to analyst BDSA, cannabis was recently named the fifth most valuable agricultural crop in the United States by a report from industry leader Leafly.com. Even so, marketing avenues in legal states are narrow and social media remains the No. 1 way for brands to distinguish themselves. Losing access can be ruinous.
According to data from Pioneer Intelligence founder Ben Walters, whose Index tracks brand activity for over 600 cannabis companies, Instagram account suspensions and removals have increased over 100% from November 2020-November 2021, from roughly 8% of tracked cannabis brands to around 17%. At press time, Walters says that, of the index of 645 brands in his active pool, nine of the top 200 companies are currently suspended. “As significantly,” he adds, “three of the top 15 cannabis companies are down.”
“Cannabis companies are unwittingly playing Russian Roulette with every piece of content they post, risking not only their ability to communicate with their followers but their credibility,” says AMNESIA Media co-founder and CEO Courtney Wu. “This is not just an in-house issue. We see clients suffer high amounts of risk from working with such third party content creators as influencers or even well-meaning customer testimonials. Every week we see cannabis MSOs in the top 20 tier suffer shadow-bans and deactivations as a result — and the numbers are climbing. Everyone in this industry is constantly at risk.”
Co-founded in 2020 by regulatory compliance experts Courtney Wu and CPO Raymond Ting, Highlyte by AMNESIA’s intelligent software currently includes complete cannabis advertising standards for California, Nevada, and Colorado with specs for all legal states soon to be included. Designed to iterate, this software “learns” the more it is used, and is able to detect small infractions and illegal juxtapositions that a human might naturally overlook. No company using Highlyte by AMNESIA during its beta phase has been flagged for non-compliance.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Highlyte by AMNESIA is led by executives from the online gaming world, where regulatory issues are as complex as those in cannabis. Wu is the former CMO for the PokerStars Global Pro & Celebrity while Ting founded and developed Rivals of Poker, the first published real-money-prize poker esports app in the Apple App Store.
“Compliance doesn’t strangle content,” Ting says. “In fact, compliance regulations present challenges that actually elevate creativity and help express unique brand identities in an extremely competitive marketplace. Highlyte by AMNESIA exists to help cannabis businesses do exactly that — and do it right.”
(This information is primarily sourced from AMNESIA Media. Highly Capitalized has neither approved nor disapproved the contents of this news release. Read our Disclaimer here).