Stoners are Ruining it for the Rest of Us
Until we evolve the ‘slacker stoner’ image, pot will never be taken seriously.
About a year or so ago I spoke with Chris Parry, a financial and market journalist about the future of the marijuana business. Living in Prince Edward County at the time, there was a major push by local backers to fund medical research names like AbCann or Canopy. However quiet it was, it still is an industry that had been slowly recognized in a place where many other industries have dried up. Talks of incorporating oversight into the already well-funded bio-engineering studies at Loyalist College were right in the thick of every local newspaper.
In talking with Chris I learned more about this silent growing giant than you could from any market paper. With Forbes citing a legal share of over $6B last year alone this market is growing, and most of that money is being pushed into more R&D as the pharmaceutical world begins battling over highly intense systems to standardize the healing elements, while avoiding the nasty high bits. See, marijuana and cannabinoids are much like the opiod of the earlier 19th century. At first, the effects were fun as an intoxicant, however the actual medical applications are endless. Billions of people within our global society could benefit, and are benefiting from therapies including the oils and balms produced from the marijuana plant itself. It’s an easy crop to yeild and can be grown just about anywhere. It’s renewable, affordable, and it’s a commodity that could just be the saving grace of an already fractured employment and health market. We just have to fight that ugly image first.
The largest issue in the fight for legalization is literally on the surface. While many scholars agree, cannabinoids have endless applications, the findings are being overshadowed by this staged assumption of the local stoner. The tattooed slacker, whom life consists of smoking weed and standing out front of the local store. Basically Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith with redder eyes and worse clothes. The stoner image is contradicting the intelligent necessity that the marijuana industry can afford the entire planet, let alone completely decimate an illegal trade based on lacing and ‘cutting’ the substance to get users hooked on their product — and using harsh chemicals to keep the plants fertile.
The stoner image isn’t inhereantly a bad thing. Individually it’s the characature of how we get when we smoke the substance. It’s goofy, and hungry, if not, sleepy. Like the cartoons of the 30s showcasing a rather dreary-eyed dog at a bar, the image doesn’t have to hurt. However, it does pose the greatest threat to the legitimacy of the market when key player brands then move to have serious discussions with “famous stoners” consisting of very odd characters. That isn’t advocacy, that’s popularism. What it does, breaks down the foundation of maybe getting that old guy in a suit to invest, while claiming an entitlement of image about righteousness of the cause.
The marijuana market as a whole needs a better definition of who they are.
Is it serious or is it fun?
Are you serious health advocates, or do you want to be able to blow smoke like taking shots at a bar?
The current industry is not defined. Take for example, the Lift Cannabis Expo. If you ever have a chance, go to it. It’s a fantastic conference, family friendly, and offers not only panels on investment discussions, but also university and hopsital-backed science on regulatory processes to extraction proceedures. It’s exactly how we should be veiwing the industry by putting marijuana into the industry of REALITY. But then you have something like Cannabis Life Conference featuring Randy of Trailer Park Boys and Jodie Emery — two figures that as an investor I would never want to associate myself with. While either offers a unique experience for a unique segment of the market, it’s the latter that anti-advocates cling on to. All the good is undone by these negative images, however that segment it represents is as important as the other based on the revenue recreational use generates. Porn, music, gaming, food, textiles, homeware all can leverage this safe stoner image for their betterment in business and frankly why not? Just like Jager may put us in that take-charge dominatrix mood, why not use an in-tune, self-assured woman who needs to relax and embrace the world on her me-day to sell artisan crafted crystal weed containers? Why not use the punk looking guy, with tattoos and a political interest in safe skin care to sell lotions? It’s an image. But weed as a commodity, as an industry, is not there yet. There are too many nay-sayers and out of date decision makers, like the current Attorney General to assume we can just push this in the marketplace.
There is a chance we can marry the two cultures. In order to do this, there would have to be a normalization of the “high” like society normalized drinking during prohibition time and time again. Get rid of the term “high”, demonize it even. You don’t want to get high, you want to inhale. We don’t get drunk, we drink. The drastic difference of this context means that when a person consumes MJ, they don’t become some weirdo — they become classy, fun, a character. Just like drinking, by altering the approach we take to the recreational, we could see a greater acceptance in the everyday applications of such a plant that the idea of a demon drug would be wiped out entireley. This can happen, but smaller brands, and brands of the people, need to make that change. Stop embracing the wild and antic and start embracing the artistic luxury that every other brand has been doing, away from the skunk and into the silk. Duncan Cameron of Good Chemicals has paved the way into this IG worthy brand of MJ that rivals that of Decium or Keihl’s. The image treats the brand as upscale as it treats it’s clients — exclusive, worth while, and a destination for honest engagement. Instead of pumping loud tunes, it’s finely crafted playlist helps the client patiently wait as if at Saks. It normalizes the shopping experience for MJ, and creates a relationship with the customer that isn’t “dank” but delightful.
There’s always a place for each market, but until the image of the demon-eyed dummy gets replaced by an image much like drinking well-aged wine, the push against will always be too strong. Make it your mothers weed, and it won’t be ruined.