Think of marijuana and the mind instantly conjures up stereotype images of red-eyed, skinny sophomores with long unmanaged locks, in baggy pants and Bob Marley T-shirts gearing up to congregate in the discreet basement of an old home, in a tucked-away alley, to share some joints. The mind visualizes stoners socializing and exhaling massive clouds creating a haze of music and smoke till the place transforms into a cannabis-fueled hotbox.
The “pothead stereotype” continues to dominate the American culture. Even as marijuana remains a banned substance under the federal laws, pot aficionados see the stigma surrounding it as a major challenge for cannabis mainstreaming.
However, a new breed of entrepreneurs dedicated to the mood-altering psychoactive drug believes that smart and innovative marketing strategies can go a long way in transforming perceptions about marijuana and help growers and sellers attract new clientele.
One such pioneer is Olivia Mannix, the 27-year-old co-founder of a start-up called Cannabrand. “We want to show the world that normal, professional and successful people consume cannabis,” says Mannix. Cannabrand is an advertising agency dedicated to rebranding marijuana for a changing market. It is all about boosting cannabusiness, also termed as cannabiz, in legal markets, which involves partnering with a variety of companies, including dispensaries to make the retail experience more rewarding, far-reaching and accessible.
The founders of Cannabrand see a huge market for marijuana in the U.S. states where its use has been legalized. In Washington and Colorado, which have even decriminalized recreational use of the drug, cannabis sellers sense new business opportunities to push their wares.
Taking pride in its cohesive marketing and brand strategy, Cannabrand plans to bring cannabis-infused bath salts, lotions, patches, transdermal patches, vape pens and edibles to a wider customer base. Operating out of Denver in Colorado, the company essentially believes that cannabis is more than a mere drug. Cannabrand is determined to communicate the medicinal properties of cannabis to people.
In fact, there are many who believe that it’s time to discard the image of the stereotypical weed junkie and accept that stoners come in all shapes and sizes. Once stereotyped as being lazy and devoid of work ethics and motivation, the cannabis enthusiast today has metamorphosed into a high-functioning member of society.
However, not everyone agrees with this attempt to change the image of cannabis, sidelining its addictive and harmful nature.
In light of the growing popularity of the pro-cannabis campaigns, which insist on decriminalizing the drug, many fear that the harmful and addictive nature of cannabis may get ignored. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 22 million Americans aged 12 or older were using marijuana in 2015.
Even though not too many stories of marijuana addiction hit the headlines, there are considerable harmful effects linked to its abuse. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive ingredient in the drug that causes addiction and triggers cravings in chronic users.
Though marijuana is enjoying a moment of rising acceptance nationwide, the FDA has neither recognized nor approved its therapeutic value. It continues to be categorized as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act because of its addictive and mind-altering nature.
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