In many ways, brand marijuana was established a long time ago. The accoutrements of weed smoking found at head shops in cities and college towns across the U.S. were all adorned with requisite motifs: dancing bears and tie-dyed swirls, skull-faced jesters and Rastafied marijuana leaves. Now that cannabis and its offshoot products are available legally to medical and recreational imbibers from retailers in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, companies producing regulated marijuana, infused cookies, candies and extracts and the dispensaries selling them aim to give marijuana a makeover — laying the groundwork for product branding that has no precedent in the mainstream market.
The players are investing in sharp packaging, refined logos, retail design and the talent to build on their progress. While marketing minds step in to assist this new crop of clientele, however, larger agencies appear to be sitting on the sidelines as the industry struggles to overcome hurdles including a lack of standardization, a cold shoulder from banks, and illegality in the eyes of the federal government.
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