It’s hard to imagine that cannabis was a total taboo a few years ago. Before it’s criminalization in 1929, it was deemed as an element that could be used recreationally, as well as for therapeutic purposes. As it’s slowly beginning to be decriminalized in order to avoid drug wars, unnecessary incarceration, and allowing patients to have access to it, the battle continues due to people’s perceptions based on claims made from bad science and inconclusive information. When US government official Harry Anslinger spearheaded prohibition, he used the case of Victor Licata as proof of the horrible consequences of marijuana use. The problem was that when anyone dared to investigate more into the young man who killed his family with an axe, there was proof of a history with mental illness but no evidence of cannabis use. But by then, it was too late, and the plant had become a prohibited drug.
As more and more states begin to legalize marijuana, companies that sell products derived from this plant now have to consider how to best approach their clients, as well as members of the public who have yet to try cannabis. Not everyone is ready to approach the store painted a bizarre shade of green with steel bars on the doors and windows. If it’s legal, then why do all these establishments feel dodgy? Well, that’s all about to change soon. Cannabis businesses are looking to marketing and design as ways to introduce their brands and products to the world as any other household product.
But how do you change the perception of a product usually thought next to the teenage stoner in the skatepark and make it into the must-have for a high-powered executive or the sophisticated woman jet-setting all over the world? With really great marketing strategies. Enter Cannabrand, a marketing agency made for companies that provide marijuana and products made from it. This means that they’re no longer only dispensaries, but also edibles, cosmetics, additives, and accessories.
As their mission statement on their website states: “Cannabrand is a full-service cannabis branding agency, dedicated to the marketing of cannabis products and services. We partner with cannabis industry companies who are dedicated to making their brand image not only recognizable, but an experience for the consumer.”
According to an interview with both Cannabrand’s founders, Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco, the main purpose was bringing the products to the public in a way that was easier to relate and approach. The first thing was to get rid of slang terms related to stoner culture. No more talk of weed, pot, or ganja. The word cannabis actually does sound cleaner and classier; you almost feel like you’re talking about some bizarre yet exquisite dish at New York’s finest gourmet restaurant. The marketing agency also convinced their clients to ditch the ugly and on-the-nose greens for a more elegant design of demure blues and whites.
But Mannix and DeFalco are not the only ones aware that the public perception of marijuana needs to change in order for mainstream culture to catch on. Ariel Stark is the founder of Mister Green, a design brand dedicated to providing an alternative to the usual Grateful Dead t-shirt attire for marijuana enthusiasts. Mister Green sells not only beautifully crafted ceramic bongs that look like a far cry from the ones you’re likely to see at your local smoke shop, but also high-end casual clothing and random accessories. Call it the Urban Outfitters for the classy cannabis smoker.
If you keep searching, you’re likely to find marijuana products that look like anything you'd see at your local health food provider. Perhaps you’re likely to not even realize these products contained cannabis. There’s a seasoning made from marijuana derivatives called Sprankles that could easily sit on the shelf next to bags of Chia seeds and Kale flakes at your Whole Foods without anyone batting an eye. There’s the aptly-named Skunk, which provides different strains in the cutest colorful packaging that any fancy tea company could dream of having. There’s Water Water and Botánica 1545; the first is water infused with marijuana with different flavors and THC levels, and the other is a brand of herbal teas also infused with cannabis. The bottles are so cute that, unlike with a beer can or bottle of Jack Daniels, you can walk down the street to your local public transport and nobody would think anything was up.
The problem is that most of these products are still unavailable to the general public in most places. Even in American states where there’s been decriminalization, most residents still require medical prescription to acquire marijuana, which also needs to be purchased at their local dispensary. However, possibly through these creative designs, the world’s population will finally be able to be open for discussion on the pros and cons of marijuana use, hopefully resulting in laws that actually reflect the public’s sentiment and needs, not to mention that are actually based on real scientific evidence.
Take a trip down to the Opium dens of the Victorian era.
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