The Wink in Weed: Marketing Thru Marijuana

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.

Half Of Americans Continue To Support Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

NEW YORK: As of last month’s elections, four more states voted to decriminalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use, bringing the grand total to 8 states that have legalized recreational marijuana (9, including Washington D.C.).  The Harris Poll revisited the topic of legalized marijuana this month and found that, even with more states joining the legalization movement, American sentiments have largely remained the same since last observed in February 2015.

The recent poll revealed that about 8 in 10 adults support the legalization of marijuana for medical treatment (82% 2016; 81% 2015), while half of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use (50%; 49% respectively). Just over 2 in 5 adults (42%) oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, particularly those ages 65 and older (56% oppose).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,054 U.S. adults aged 18+ surveyed online between December 8 and 12, 2016. Complete results of the study can be found here.

Decisions, decisions
Whether or not you believe marijuana should be legalized for any reason, there is a larger question also at hand: who should decide whether or not to legalize the substance, the federal government on behalf of all states or state governments each for themselves?  Just over a third of adults feel the decision should be made at the federal level (35% in 2016 and 2015), but the number who favor the states retaining the right to make this decision has increased from 44% in 2015 to 48% now.

Ch-ch-ch-changes
If marijuana were to be legalized, it has the potential to have implications far beyond a simple change of legality. About seven in ten adults believe that legalized marijuana will lead to increases in tax revenue (71%), the amount of marijuana used (71%), and the number of marijuana users (69%). Meanwhile, about six in ten expect increases in tourism to states where recreational marijuana usage is legal (64%) and greater consistency/standardization of the marijuana used (57%).

Alcohol consumption implications
When it comes to the potential impact of marijuana legalization on alcohol consumption, most regular drinkers (adults ages 21+ who drink alcohol at least several times a year), say that marijuana legalization would not impact their personal consumption of alcoholic beverages.  81% of regular beer and spirit drinkers and 85% of regular wine drinkers say that legalization of marijuana would not impact, or has not impacted (for those states where it has already been legalized), their consumption of alcohol.  Of the balance, more say they will decrease their alcohol consumption than say they will increase their consumption.

However, according to Danny Brager, SVP of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice, “It is very noteworthy that some pockets of consumers – across various age groups, income groups, and gender – responded in much more significant numbers that their consumption of alcohol may be impacted by marijuana legalization. To the extent that some of these consumer demographics are very important to each adult beverage category, marijuana legalization may have some adverse impacts on alcohol consumption.”

 

Poll: Majority Of Voters Support Legalizing Adult Use Of Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Fifty-five percent of registered voters believe that the personal use of marijuana should be legal, according to national tracking poll data compiled by Morning Consult – a Washington DC consulting firm. Thirty-eight percent of respondents polled said that they oppose legalization and eight percent were undecided.

Majorities of both men (57 percent) and women (52 percent) said that they support legalization. Among registered voters between the ages of 18 and 44, over 60 percent endorse legalizing cannabis.

Majorities of both Democrats (63 percent) and Independents (59 percent) support legalization, according to the poll, while most Republicans (58 percent) do not.

The Morning Consult polling data is similar to those of other recent national polls, such as those by reported by GallupCB

With Support For Marijuana, Concern Over Driving High Grows

COLORADO: The Lodo Wellness Center in Denver has been selling medical marijuana for several years. But since Jan. 1, when marijuana in Colorado officially moved from underground to behind-the-counter, they’ve also been selling legal, recreational pot.

A majority of Americans now say they support full legalization, and the trend is spreading: Legal weed is coming soon to Washington state.

Meanwhile, the public health community is warning of a potential safety problem: more people driving while stoned. But health officials and law enforcement don’t yet have the data or tools to address the concern.

Public Perception

Inside the Lodo Wellness Center, shoppers don’t seem particularly worried about getting behind the wheel with pot in their systems.

“You could smoke about an ounce and still have your motor skills,” says 39-year-old Dante Cox. “When it comes to one shot of alcohol, all that goes out of the window.”