It's not easy to operate in the cannabis industry.

Although the market is expected to grow to approximately $40 billion by 2021, the industry is still held back by outdated federal laws that block cannabis businesses from taking advantage of simple services that the vast majority of the business world has access to. The most glaring example of this is the industry's lack of banking access, which forces businesses to operate on a cash only basis.

A lesser known, but still just as vital, service that also gets stymied by federal cannabis prohibition is public relations and marketing. While there are no specific laws preventing PR and communications firms from taking on a cannabis client, most are still reluctant to do business with an industry that's essentially illegal under federal law.

Recognizing the need for such a space in the cannabis industry, a team of seasoned cannabis professionals have banded together to start the world's first cannabis focused communications platform. Dubbed AxisWire, the platform strives to help cannabis businesses grow their brand and generate meaningful coverage. 

"You can have the best product in the world but if no one knows about it, it is useless," said AxisWire Founder and CEO, Cynthia Salarizadeh. "AxisWire streamlines connections between brands and business owners, giving cannabis entrepreneurs a leg-up in what is quickly becoming a crowded space."

This is accomplished through a variety of tools and services. To start, AxisWire offers a newswire service that promises to send out client press releases to approximately 1,700 targeted journalists and producers at hundreds of different media outlets like  Forbes, The Washington Post, CNN, TIME, Business Insider, VICE, as well as publications specific to the cannabis industry.

To help businesses maximize their PR and marketing strategies, AxisWire provides media consultations backed by a team of PR and marketing gurus, like Chief Marketing Officer Jared Mirsky. The team will be led by AxisWire co-founder Evan Nison,  who serves as the company's Chief Public Relations Officer and is founder of the PR firm Nison Co.

"We’re excited to be able to help build this platform and use our database and team of 15 employees who are dedicated to cannabis reporter outreach for the newswire and STAR to make it as useful as possible to the industry," said Nison. "Smaller cannabis companies who may not have been able to retain a PR firm like ours will now have a place to help get the word out, and we’re excited to be able to work with them and provide this."

AxisWire also connects businesses with journalist directly through its STAR (Submit To A Reporter) source locator subscription service. With STAR journalists can submit queries looking for expert sources and relevant businesses can gain exposure by connecting with journalists to share their story.

Because cannabis regulations can be prickly and difficult to understand, AxisWire has partnered with the cannabis compliance firm CannaRegs to offer discounted media compliance consultations as well. Through partnerships like with CannaRegs, and through offering other low cost services, AxisWire hopes to open up the media space for small to midsize cannabis businesses.

"There are a number of interesting, innovative companies in this space, and not all of them can afford a PR or marketing agency," commented communications expert and AxisWire board member, Lewis Goldberg. "AxisWire provides a great alternative for entrepreneurs by allowing them to access an affordable, targeted press release distribution platform as well as giving them access to the media who are writing about this space every day."