From legal action to covert SEO assaults, here is how to get nonpayers back without breaking the law
As most people in the industry some outside of the weed world are now aware of thanks to a viral clip of a California cannabis executive apparently bragging about stiffing small vendors, a lot of pot biz invoices go unpaid by design.
The issue of outstanding invoices was brought up by several stakeholders in our roundup of business predictions for the coming year, and it constantly comes up in conversations on multiple fronts. Some owners feel helpless in the situation, but others are getting creative.
Below are tactics we gleaned from speaking with industry stakeholders. Some were inspired by their pain, others are already in motion. This is not legal advice, and we recommend you consult with your team before adding one or more of these to your playbook. In the meantime, this one is for people who are owed …
1 – Threaten to sue them right away. Times have changed. If the company is unlikely to pay you anyway, it’s not worth the anguish and frustration of waiting. They’re supposed to pay net 30? Have your lawyer send the letter on day 31.
2 – Report them to state regulators. In Massachusetts, there’s nothing that the Cannabis Control Commission can do to non-payers at this juncture, but the issue has come up at meetings so you might as well get the offender causing you much consternation on their preliminary shit list.
3 – Tell regulators in other states too. Does the company that owes you have business in other states as well? Or, better yet, is there another market they are trying to get into? If they’re active elsewhere, you may want to raise a red flag as a warning sign about their bad behavior in Mass.
4 – Rock them on Google. There are few things more important to a cannabis dispensary than its clout on the biggest search engine. We know for a fact that shops use burner accounts to leave negative reviews under the profiles of rival stores, and there is no reason that you can’t get in on the action.
5 – Have your fans jump on the pile. This is something you would never do if there was still the smallest chance of ultimately getting paid and doing further business with a buyer, but if you know they’re never gonna pay, have your fans filet the motherfuckers.
6 – Produce more unique products. While we’re not blaming any vendors for getting screwed, one small producer we spoke with about the phenomenon said they have less of a problem than others with non-payment because their biggest seller isn’t something that bad retailers can also get from the next distributor or manufacturer in line.
7 – Steal their employees. It’s always hard to find solid people, but one great place to find disgruntled workers who may want to jump ship is at a place that you know cannot or simply doesn’t pay its bills.
8 – Tell the press. These are hard situations for news outlets to cover. We’re not here to do your dirty work, only to be told there’s no longer a story since people paid up after we called them for a comment. Still, there are exceptions, like when multiple complaints or lawsuits are filed. And no matter what, it’s at least worth sending a private note to journalists, because while we may not always jump on a story about overdue invoices, we also don’t want to write glowing articles about some other thing a company which doesn’t pay its bills is doing.
9 – Pollute their Instagram comments. This is straight up nasty, but a flurry of anonymous darts about how a company cheats vendors could go a long way. Besides making them look bad in front of all their followers, by using weed hashtags like #cannabis you’re sure to bring them unwanted attention from the anti-marijuana Meta moderators.
10 – Team up. We cannot stress enough that we do not recommend creating, sharing, or adding to any lists of alleged bad actors. In the past, the maker of one such compendium settled for six figures with someone who claimed they shouldn’t have wound up on it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t team up, share info, and fight back together.