In Colorado, marijuana is getting a makeover. For the entrepreneurs trying their hand in this newly legalized marketplace, the image of Cheech and Chong giggling behind a reeking cloud of pot smoke is no longer profitable.
Instead, their new mascot must be Willy Wonka.
How else to explain the new line of cannabis infused treats like mints, candy bars and cakes (whatever happened to plain old brownies?) being created at startups such as Denver’s Dixie Elixirs. According to Jordan Schrader’s well researched articles on Colorado’s nascent industry, this is just the first of many entrepreneurial efforts to insert marijuana into mainstream products.
But are over the counter treats – here I’m thinking of Twinkies, Jolly Ranchers and the rest of the unhealthy crap most of us shoveled down as kids – a smart delivery system for cannabis?
The answer is a definitive no.
Schrader interviewed several people eager to spread the gospel of pot, yet their views suggest a disconnect with reality. Consider one ardent businessperson who believes that people will one day view cannabis infused products in the same way wine aficionados view different vintages.
Really? Has anyone ever swallowed pot smoke for the flavor? And if it were possible, would he or she have spat out the intoxicating ingredients afterwards, as is common at wine tastings? Not likely. But if these products do go mainstream, then some version of the following conversation will be:
Salesperson: “Would you like to try the BC Bud Cola? Or maybe a bowl of Mindblown mousse?”
Customer: “I’ve had some already, but I’m still hungry. Got any chips?”
Salesperson: “Sure, one bowl of Jalapeno Hash chips coming up.”
Sure, these products efficiently combine the two aspects of marijuana usage – getting high and getting the munchies – but a little honesty from marijuana producers would be nice.
It’s all about the high.
Which is why selling cannabis infused treats and beverages normally consumed by children is the slipperiest of slopes. By creating alternatives to smoking marijuana, these new businesses have created another, more alarming, problem. Marketing.
It is impossible to construct an advertising wall between kids and adults when the product looks exactly like, say, a Ding Dong or a Life Saver, a concept that brings to mind Joe Camel’s insidious emergence on (and raucous exit from) the advertising scene. It does not bear repeating.
Many in Colorado agree. One concerned mother who volunteers for Smart Colorado, a group that advocates against cannabis infused products, summed up, “We don’t think candy belongs combined with a psychoactive ingredient.”
She’s right. Luring in customers with candy and carbonated beverages has all the allure of a pedophile, a Pied Piper of Pot with a grin and a sucker (and who didn’t have nightmares of the Child Catcher after watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?).
Marijuana producers are not the only ones who should be listening to the concerns of groups such as Smart Colorado. Washington legislators also need to pay attention to the cannabis infused treats being peddled in the Rocky State.
On that topic, we should all just say no.