Marian Salzman |
On the high holiday yesterday—4/20, that is—my friend and PR client Jason Hairston, the young entrepreneur behind the übersuccessful Nugget Spot in New York City, happily shared an article on Facebook. It was a Thrillist roundup of the city’s top 32 places to cure the holiday munchies.
Turns out Hairston—whose deep-fried nuggets of chicken, fish, pork, polenta and cheese appeal to plenty of sober adults, too—has a lot of company in making high-end stoner food. The list includes single-focus restaurants specializing in biscuits, pudding, bacon, cheese fries and burgers with doughnuts for buns. While many of them are in bar-heavy neighborhoods, their target demographic might very well have a different drug of choice.
They’re just one segment of the growing marijuana industrial complex. Everyone is putting a huge emphasis on how to monetize weed. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in two states, medical marijuana in 18 more and D.C., and many other states (including New York, where law enforcement has long largely looked away) looking at legalizing one or both, businesses of all stripes and sizes are trying to get in on the action.
As Robert Frichtel, president and CEO of Advanced Cannabis Solutions, a Colorado Springs, Colo., company that leases spaces for growing marijuana, told Bloomberg Businessweek in January, “Everybody is running toward this as the nextentrepreneurial wave—the green rush.” His was one of a dozen companies seeking funding from about 70 investors at a Las Vegas meeting put together by the ArcView Group, an investment firm that’s centered around the marijuana industry. ArcView projects that the market for legal marijuana will reach $2.34 billion in 2014.
And that doesn’t even count all of Hairston’s nuggets.
When you consider the countless peripheral businesses that stand to benefit from the growing acceptance of the drug—watchers predicted the return of classified advertising and new growth for Colorado’s alt-weeklies, head shops have seen business boom, garden shops found new markets and junk-food sales quite likely went up—it’s clear that the marijuana business has an overall valuation much higher than $2.34 billion.
There are the little guys, like Colorado blogger Nathan Hammond, who announced in a pre-legalization post that his new blog was an effort at “Monetizing The Marijuana Industry Without Having To Sell The Stuff!” and raised amusing questions about marijuana SEO (“What do stoners punch into Google anyway?”).
In the meantime, restaurateurs can happily promote their high-end junk food and their 4/20 specials. Bloggers and reviewers can sell advertising to new marijuana businesses. It gives a whole new meaning to green marketing.
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