The Wink in Weed: Marketing Thru Marijuana

HigherGround and MJBA present Hot Pot Products

By David Rheins

Years ago, when I was working at Rolling Stone Magazine, I had the opportunity to interview Jerry Garcia backstage before a Grateful Dead performance at Madison Square Garden. The show was being sponsored by Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and as the editor of Marketing Thru Music (MTM), it was my job to chronicle how popular music and musicians were being used to market consumer products.  Ben and Jerry, two hippie entrepreneurs from Vermont, had just introduced Cherry Garcia and were marketing it to baby boomers who shared their love of the bandleader and the deadhead lifestyle.  I asked Jerry what he had to say to those critics who suggested that he had “sold out” to the man by agreeing to let his name be used in such a commercial way.

Bemused, Jerry just chuckled and said, “Hell man, we would have sold out years ago, but no one was buying!”

Pot Culture has turned Pop Culture, and everyone is buying.  Today’s legal cannabis industry would not have been possible without decades of protest and sacrifice from activists and the cannabis community, and those of us in the legal cannabis industry owe a debt of gratitude. Thanks to decades of political activism, public attitudes have shifted, and the stage has been set for what only commerce can achieve – true normalization of cannabis use and cannabis users.

The majority of Americans support legalization.  Voters of both red and blue persuasions were unequivocal at the polls this past November, as Initiatives in 8 of 9 states demonstrated that We the People want our legal weed. Victories in influential California and mega tourist destination Nevada will bring the country’s media and entertainment cultural centers into the legal fold, serving as a megaphone for broadcasting the positive realities of legalization far and wide. The entire West Coast will soon be legal, and with Maine and Massachusetts recreational cannabis is firmly establishing itself on the East Coast.

This month marked the fourth anniversary of the Marijuana Business Association, and for the third consecutive year, we were honored to be nominated Best Cannabis Association of the year at the prestigious Dope Industry Awards. MJBA has firmly established itself as the leading professional business organization in legal cannabis, and with hundreds of cannabis businesses, thousands of MJBA MeetUp members and hundreds of thousands of MJBA web and social media followers, we’ve morphed and evolved and grown along with the legal cannabis industry we serve.

It has been an honor to be a part of our historic movement, and to work with the amazing entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are literally building our nascent industry one success story at a time. Hundreds of newly licensed cannabis brands – some with celebrity names attached — are beginning to exert real power – defining what legal cannabis looks like, changing minds about what cannabis users are like, while generating billions in new taxes, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

Today, celebrity stoners from Willie Nelson and Whoopi Goldberg to Snoop Dogg and The Trailer Park Boys are Marketing Thru Marijuana.  Jerry Garcia would be proud.

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