By Greg James
As we were preparing to print the June issue, I found myself amazed again at the response to this publication. To say that we’re growing fast would be an understatement.
Obviously, this newly emerging, legal marijuana industry has been in need of a serious, business-focused rag, and Marijuana Venture is going to fill that niche. We will continue to deliver articles and information for business people who are serious about taking what was once an underground, black market industry into the mainstream. It’s going to be a very interesting ride for sure!
In May, Annie Lowrey wrote a great piece in the New York Times called “The Bud Light-ification of Bud.”
In it she basically hit on a lot of things that should get people thinking. For example, she called out pot that is labeled one thing (Sour Diesel, for example) that is markedly different from one store to another, and even from one visit to the next. She rightly points out that a McDonald’s hamburger is the same every time you go into a McDonald’s restaurant, and that a Marlboro is always a Marlboro.
Yet, there is no real way of knowing reliably what you’re getting in marijuana stores (or dispensaries) from one visit to the next. From my own personal research, Seattle-area medical marijuana dispensaries can list the exact same strain (Girl Scout Cookies), and label it as a sativa on one website and an indica on another. Meanwhile, the list of ailments it cures (or treats) is completely different from one shop to the next. Where’s the consistency?
At this juncture, I also wonder: Are the folks getting into this business really prepared?
In 1993, my other company applied for and received a unique UPC number from the Universal Product Code folks in Ohio. In today’s world, it’s a requirement for anyone that wants to have a retail product sold in real stores. The scanners and barcodes that are ubiquitous in today’s retail environment are almost certainly going to be used (and required) by retailers in the legal marijuana world.
Packaging – in the state of Washington anyway – is going to have additional special requirements, and I have no doubt that eventually all marijuana will be sold in standard sizes just like cigarettes, cereal and beer.
It’s unavoidable because standard packaging makes the retail business more efficient by decreasing the time spent on inventory counts, reducing storage space and increasing the speed of a transaction.
And, in the end, the winners in the legal world of marijuana are going to be the business people who operate the same way Budweiser and Starbucks do.
They’ll have an eye on the bottom line, customer service, quality control, efficiency and great logistics. We’re now headed down a path that may sadden some who liked “the good old days,” but once the legal marijuana train left the station, and voters made their voices heard, a process was initiated that will likely not end until we eventually see pot sold next to cigarettes and beer in 7-Elevens.
As that old business truism goes: “Planning is everything.”