What is the Clubhouse App and how is the cannabis industry getting involved?
There’s a new social media app on the market called Clubhouse and it’s making waves worldwide. The Clubhouse app is an exclusive, invite only, voice audio chat (great for those of us who have gotten used to all day pajamas) where users can connect with each other in real time. The best way I can describe the Clubhouse experience is that it is a combination of a conference panel, interactive podcast, and talk radio all wrapped into one app. An interesting thing to note about the Clubhouse app is that the content you have access to is populated based on the people and clubs that you follow as well as the interests you select when you first join. When users log-in to the app they see a list of rooms, or their “hallway” with varying topics from cannabis, comedy, social issues, climate change, and the always popular celebrity welcome rooms.
You may have become used to “the new norm,” which includes spending several hours each day on Zoom, Skype, Teams, and other video conferencing programs. If you are like me, you may be experiencing fatigue from constant online video conferencing and informing people that their mute is on. Likewise, many existing social media platforms have become, well, boring. In many ways the new Clubhouse app has become a refreshing change of pace and a great way to network with others who share similar interests. I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations and connections that I have made on this new app and I have connected with some amazing people including doctors, nurses, researchers, music industry producers, actors, and even a crown princess or two.
For this installment of “Cannabis Crossroads” I wanted to explain Clubhouse and invite you to join a new cannabis-relevant Clubhouse club, Cannabis Science & Medicine, that I started in January 2021. To best describe this new platform, I have decided to feature a few of the leading voices I’ve had the pleasure of sharing space with. For those of you that just want to dive right in you can download the Clubhouse app on your Apple iPhone or iPad (note: there is no access for Android users at this time).
Clubhouse is an entirely new experience that comes with a learning curve and its own lingo. You will hear terms like “resetting the room” (a frequent refreshing of a room to accommodate new attendees), “pull to refresh” or “PTR” (a downward swiping action that is used to refresh the attendee placement on the stage and can be used to change a user’s avatar to illustrate a reference) and “dropping gems” (a term of endearment reserved for knowledge bombs being shared in rooms). After being on the Clubhouse app for just one week I applied for and started my own club focused on cannabis science and medicine education. I followed the link in the settings from my Clubhouse bio to the FAQ/Contact Us section and filled out the form to start the Cannabis Science & Medicine club. It took approximately two weeks for my club to be approved. Each user is allowed to apply for up to two clubs but you have to host three rooms on the proposed club topic before you can submit a new club for approval. One important thing to note is that the app is still in beta testing phase and that the Clubhouse staff is small, but growing.
My Cannabis Science & Medicine Club has been active for a little over two weeks at the time of writing this article and already has more than 6000 engaged members and followers. Currently, we are hosting a weekly meetup on Tuesdays at 4 pm EST that typically has well over 100 listeners. We’re in the process of adding more administrators that can host their own weekly or bi-weekly shows centered around specific topics, such as analytical testing, extraction, cannabis nursing, pediatric care, and much, much more. Our club also had the opportunity to host Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, Tracy Ryan, and Dr. Bonni Goldstein for a filmmaker and cast discussion panel about their Netflix documentary Weed the People.
Clubhouse has proven to be a great tool for me in building on existing relationships from the real world. Below are some comments and advice provided by three Clubhouse friends and collaborators: Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, Nurse Heather Manus, and Sheila Gibson.
Dr. Lakisha and I had been following each other’s journeys in cannabis on other social media platforms for quite some time, but our paths had never directly crossed in person before. Now on Clubhouse you will see us co-hosting and co-moderating rooms about medical and scientific cannabis topics. Dr. Lakisha is a traditional naturopath and master herbalist and has been on Clubhouse since mid-December. She uses the app primarily for information sharing and she is passionate about educating on the benefits of traditional medicine and the endogenous cannabinoid system. Clubhouse allows her to reach a much wider audience. I asked Dr. Lakisha if she had any tips on navigating the app and she replied, “My advice for using the Clubhouse app is to be real! The Clubhouse listeners appreciate authenticity and vulnerability. This is what creates authentic connections and a more rewarding experience on the app.” Dr. Lakisha has been a huge part of the development and expansion of the Cannabis Science & Medicine club. We also enjoy teaching new users how to navigate the app while simultaneously sharing best practices and etiquette.
I asked Dr. Lakisha what her most memorable moment on Clubhouse so far was and she shared the following story. “The most memorable Clubhouse experience so far is being awarded my two clubs, Cannaladies and Dr. Lakisha’s Natural Path on my birthday! I woke up to it and it was a real birthday present," she said. "The Cannabis Science & Medicine Club is a wealth of credible information and consists of many high value professionals that Joshua has been able to assemble from his personal network. I love sharing the stage with the professionals and learning information that helps to enrich both my personal and professional life.”
Nurse Heather Manus is another great ally and friend of mine on the app who has been instrumental in the development of the Cannabis Science & Medicine Club as well. Manus is a registered nurse and founder of the Cannabis Nurses Network. She has worked with the Cannabis Science Conference to curate our cannabis nursing panels at our shows. Manus uses Clubhouse to connect with people in a way that has previously not been possible with other virtual platforms. “It’s been a joy to share information and gain knowledge from this incredible global community," she said. "Clubhouse is a meeting of the minds and has taught me to listen more than I speak. The purpose of Clubhouse is to create community, elevate voices, and establish relationships that can be taken into the real world. Follow up is key… I’m still working on that part.”
In addition to her role as an administrator of the Cannabis Science & Medicine club, Manus is also the founder of the Cannabis Nurses club on Clubhouse. “Clubhouse has allowed me to connect with nurses and begin planting seeds of knowledge regarding the endocannabinoid system," she explained. "The ability to enter rooms full of nurses and discuss the National Nursing Guidelines for medical marijuana has proved to be a beneficial approach to reducing stigma and raising awareness about cannabis science. Spending time on Clubhouse has also resulted in membership growth for the Cannabis Nurses Network. Win-Win! The level of expertise that can be on one stage at the same time is unparalleled and highly valuable. It’s wonderful to learn and share in such a supportive and loving environment.”
Sheila Gibson is another great friend I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with on the app and she is a medicinal plant IP/patent and trademark attorney based in California who joined Clubhouse on December 28, 2020. Gibson shared the following advice: “My best tip is to be curious and don’t discount what you bring to the conversation. Jump into rooms and when you find one that sounds interesting, listen in and find ways to contribute to the conversation. I am often in rooms with people who have been in the industry far longer than I have and who know so much more about cannabis science than I do. I am naturally quite shy but I learned quickly not to discount my voice and the individuality of the message I bring to any conversation I’m in. The unique experiences and expertise that each person brings to the Clubhouse conversations are what make them truly magical. I’ve seen people solve problems they’ve been working on for years in a single conversation on Clubhouse.”
When asked how Clubhouse has impacted her career, Gibson explained that she has been able to connect with people from around the country whom she never would have had the opportunity to even meet otherwise—let alone while in her pjs sitting on her couch. “I believe the ability to strip every part of an interaction down to voice allows people to connect more authentically,” she said. “I’ve been able to connect on a deeper level with existing contacts and clients, and meet new and future clients. I’ve also been invited to speak about cannabis IP at events and on podcasts, as well as invited to be featured in magazines. I’ve grown my following on every platform and people are connecting with me on social media in more meaningful ways. Clubhouse has amplified my voice beyond measure.”
If you’re interested in joining Clubhouse, here are some important tips on getting started. Current users of the app get two initial invitations to share with friends and then obtain more invitations as they interact in conversations. Reaching out to friends who are already on the app to see if they have any extra invites is a great place to start. Also, you can download the app and register your handle and then you’ll be put into a virtual waiting room. Anyone who has your registered phone number saved in their iPhone’s contacts will be alerted when you sign up and has the option to let you onto the app. One important thing to note is that anyone you share your invites with or let onto the app will have your photo and bio linked at the bottom of their profile for the foreseeable future.
I have personally received great value from Clubhouse and have enjoyed the conversations I’ve had the opportunity to engage in. Clubhouse appears to be growing very quickly and recently hosted Elon Musk and many other celebrities. Since it is in beta testing and is still a fairly young platform, there is an ongoing evolution and it is difficult to tell where it may ultimately go. After being on Clubhouse for only a short time, however, I feel like open discussion on an increasingly wide range of topics is bringing us closer to a true collective consciousness. Like its social media platform predecessors, the initial intrigue and excitement coupled with ultrafast adoption could potentially lead to a variety of concerns and criticisms—everything from privacy concerns and security threats to its potential negative impact on our democracy. Will Clubhouse remain an engaging voice-based social media platform ideal for networking? Will it give in to advertising and profits? Will it be copied and replicated on a million other similar platforms? Only time will tell.
Josh Crossney is the columnist and editor of “Cannabis Crossroads”
and a contributing editor to Cannabis Science and Technology magazine.
Crossney is also the president and CEO of Cannabis Science Conference. Direct correspondence to: Josh@JoshCrossney.com
J. Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology 4(2), 20-23 (2021).