The Marijuana Industry
The consumption and distribution of marijuana is nothing new, but today with 18 states in the US and counting decriminalizing the possession up to a certain weight and the legalization of recreational use has opened a number of doors for business opportunities. Marijuana dispensaries have been a booming market in places like Michigan where laws are relaxed enough to open and expand or even franchise in inner-city areas with heavy traffic volumes, but since the state requirements for actually opening a dispensary are meticulous the immediate competition is low which leaves a lot of room to get creative with your branding.
There was a point of time when there were just a few different slang names for marijuana like weed or refer, then it went to The Chronic, to crud but what was happening right in front of everyone’s eyes is a trend was being set for all plant growers to brand the individual strains and make their pot exclusive, all they needed is for it to become legal. In the states where recreational use is legal, you can walk into a public dispensary with your 21+ State ID and be greeted with a wide selection of different plants all with different names, strain types, and most importantly prices.
The dispensaries are definitely pathing the way for a bigger business model once all of the laws of the states get in sync, but it’s the street dealers that built the foundation for the industry. Before dispensary owners, budtenders, and private growers were mastering the technique of breeding cannabis for retail the street dealers were setting the tone for public pricing and distribution. Understanding strains and how the entire grow process works makes the difference in the consistency and potency of the plant which is also the two main factors of the price. With the rise of the internet, growing techniques have become more available to the public which in hand-turned local dealers into growers. Having access to other growers allowed them to share strains and seeds with one another, which brought the opportunity to mix and grow their own strains and name them whatever they wish.
If you have ever visited a dispensary you will hear a lot of the same names but with different numbers after them to represent the position it holds in the hierarchy. For example, Purple Kush #5 or White Widow #2. Some others will be named in a variation of popular strains, like Blue Cheese, Yellow Cheese, and Sweet Cheese. The Combination of strains is where the medical terms for the names originate from, but on the street, the brand names are what sells.
When your meeting your guy at the gas station to score some pot it’s no real way to know if you’re actually getting what he’s advertising, even though you’re paying the price for that brand name. The business-savvy growers realized if I grow and create my own strains and give them a unique name I can be an exclusive distributor to the dispensaries and name my own prices. This business model quickly adapted to the street dealers and growers to brand the marijuana they are selling or consuming to make it exclusive. Some use promotional material like creating a logo for the strain, then t-shirts, trays, grinders, custom packaging, even celebrity endorsement.
Let’s be clear, The marijuana you buy from the dispensary is much different from the weed you buy off of the street. Without having the proper equipment it is nearly impossible to remove all of the necessary pesticides from the plant, plus in states where you can sell, they have state inspections to ensure the buds are up to code before being available for retail, remember it became legal for medicinal purposes first so it’s natural for the government to overlook regulations.
Photo provided by Matichon