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kottke.org posts about marijuana

What Will the Cannabis Industry Look Like In Ten Years?

posted by Tim Carmody   Jul 05, 2021

(Hi, this is Tim Carmody filling in for Jason this week. Hope you all have had a lovely holiday and are ready for more bloggy goodness here at kottke dot org.)

For a variety of reasons, I recently found myself inside a legal marijuana dispensary for the first time. I wasn’t sure exactly what I expected the retail experience to be like — a liquor store? a coffee shop? a used car lot? the paraphrenelia shops I first checked out as a teenager? — but I was nevertheless surprised.

The closest analogy I can think of is a jewelry store. There was pretty decent security, including a whole separate room for customers to check in, and everything was presented in a secure display case. A salesperson walked you through the samples to answer questions, guide you in one direction or another, and take your order, while the order itself was filled in a secure area away from the showroom. The other shopping experience I’ve had that’s similar was buying medical equipment, which makes some sense given the origin of a lot of retail dispensaries in the medical marijuana era. You could also say it’s a little like a pharmacy (which again, is probably unsurprising).

Some of the setup of dispensaries is a function of legal regulations (do you need to check IDs and differentiate between medical and recreational customers?) and some of it solves some practical problems (weed is expensive and there’s still a viable aftermarket, so you are in principle a target for theft).

But it’s also a question of culture: who’s involved in the transaction as a seller and as a buyer, and what are their assumptions and competencies that they’re bringing to the party (so to speak)?

For instance, today Lifehacker (I know, right?) has a short interview with an entrepreneur who runs dispensaries in California, who comes out of the restaurant industry. (It’s titled “How to Break Into the Legal Weed Industry” which is, I think, a very rare kind of service journalism, or more likely, a simple explainer masquerading as service journalism.)

“My entrance into the cannabis industry was several years ago,” said Captor Capital’s Adam Wilks, who operates dispensaries in California, where he reported the business is “smooth sailing” for the most part. “I had worked in the restaurant industry for major brands, including Pinkberry. When I entered, we were just starting to see traction with federal legalization pushes like the SAFE Banking Act and statewide sweeps. I think I entered during the ‘sweet spot’ period where there was still a lot of excitement about an emerging industry and a lot of big money wasn’t quite ready to take risks. Now, everyone is funneling into cannabis.”

Now, a restaurant is a very different industry and has a very different culture than a pharmacy or jeweler or the marijuana sales industry as it’s existed pre-legalization. One might expect a very different retail experience by people with those competencies and expectations. As people from other industries enter the world of cannabis, an amalgamated lingua franca might start to emerge, or you might get very differentiated experiences in different markets.

There’s an Achewood comic titled “Marijuana is not coffee” that’s about five years old now that compares the emerging legal cannabis industry to coffee shops — not just ubiquitous but gentrified, made completely palatable by the American retail industry’s ability to turn anything into a consumer-friendly experience. The characters also imagine a whole cannabis-specific jargon, on the model of coffee talk. Here’s an excerpt:

Achewood - Marijuana is not Coffee Excerpt.png

I don’t know; someone with more than a passing acquaintance with these shops and their alternatives will have to do the full anthropology. But it does seem to me that with the legalization of marijuana, we are in the process of changing more than who is allowed to get high and who is allowed to get paid without being punished.

Dope Rider rides again

posted by Susannah Breslin   Mar 20, 2015

Since I wasn’t a High Times reader in 1975, I missed the debut of Dope Rider, a totally trippy, startlingly surrealistic comic strip starring a Wild West skeleton and created by Paul Kirchner. Thankfully, Kirchner has uploaded the entire Dope Rider oeuvre and shared the back story on what may be one of the comic world’s stranger strips. The psychedelic comic features dope trading, Hells Angels references, and lines like, “The best things about being high is the view.”

dope-rider.jpg

(via Gawker)

Social media for pot smokers

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 26, 2010

Leaf.ly is a social media site for pot smokers. You can keep track of all the types of bud you smoke (like Cork’d does for wine), check out the likely effects of smoking a new cannabis strain (these are good if you want to just play video games), and earn Foursquare-style badges. What, duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.de wasn’t available?

Legal pot in California

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 25, 2008

In California, it’s pretty much legal now to buy, sell, grow, and smoke pot, provided you’ve got the proper documentation from a doctor, which is pretty easy to get. This article from the New Yorker details the industry that’s sprung up around this legalization, filled with people who, you get the feeling, really like smoking pot for recreational and not medical reasons.

The counties of California were allowed to amend the state guidelines, and the result was a patchwork of rules and regulations. Upstate in Humboldt County, the heartland of high-grade marijuana farming in California, the district attorney, Paul Gallegos, decided that a resident could grow up to ninety-nine plants at a time, in a space of a hundred square feet or less, on behalf of a qualified patient. The limited legal protections afforded to pot growers and dispensary owners have turned marijuana cultivation and distribution in California into a classic “gray area” business, like gambling or strip clubs, which are tolerated or not, to varying degrees, depending on where you live and on how aggressive your local sheriff is feeling that afternoon. This summer, Jerry Brown, the state’s attorney general, plans to release a more consistent set of regulations on medical marijuana, but it is not clear that California’s judges will uphold his effort. In May, the state Court of Appeal, in Los Angeles, ruled that Senate Bill 420’s cap on the amount of marijuana a patient could possess was unconstitutional, because voters had not approved the limits.

Senate Bill 420! The LAPD and DEA have taken the stance that federal law takes precedence over state law and are routinely busting people for growing, selling, and possession. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future here.

Tomato salmonella

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 16, 2008

Tomatoes are currently spreading salmonella across the United States. In 1981, the culprit in a smaller outbreak was marijuana. Hey High Times, dude,
the NYer is totally bogarting your pot coverage on this…we need a potcast, stat!

Science and drugs

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 12, 2005

Scientists who have tried drugs have included Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Jay Gould. Like Sigmund Freud, fictional detective Sherlock Holmes was a fan of cocaine. (via cyc-c)