recreational marijuana sales by county vs. I 502 voters

I 502 in Washington won the minds of 2012 voters, gaining 55.7 percent of the vote, but a large number also voted against, and hate to see retail stores popping up in their state. Taking the results apart county by county, we thought it would be interesting to see the differences in sales versus votes. Let’s see how the numbers stack up.

sales of the opposition, or lack thereof

Garfield, Franklin and Adams counties all had the highest number of ‘no’ votes for I-502, with Garfield racking up the most with 62.17 percent of voters rejecting legalization of recreational marijuana. Garfield county’s final 62% vote against I 502, only represented 789 people of its 2,266 total. In its population study, the Liquor Control Board said that it would only be allocated a single retail license. But before it could issue a license, the county put up a moratorium on any recreational activities, which lasted until last month. Since then, there have been no applications submitted to the state to set up a marijuana business. A similar story has transpired in Franklin County, which voted against I-502 with 61 percent of the vote. The Liquor Control Board allotted the largest city in the county, Pasco, four possible retail licenses and one for the county as a whole. Since that time, Pasco established an ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana sales last July. The county passed a limited moratorium that has since expired and the state currently has nine applications for a retail license but has not issued one, yet. Adams County, whose population voted against I 502 with 60.62 percent, has no current moratorium or ban in effect. However, it doesn’t have a retail location there yet, either. Only two applications are pending with the Liquor Control Board for the possible two locations the regulatory department allotted for the county.

the other side of the I 502 coin

On the other side of the recreational marijuana divide, bringing in a log of the $56 million according to state Dec. 1st numbers, is the counties that had the most excitement for passing I 502. Jefferson, King and San Juan counties all showed over 65 percent of the vote in favor of legalization and their retail records hold that sentiment up. San Juan County had the highest support for the initiative in the state with 68.39 percent of the vote being for legalization. However, the one retail store in that county only opened last month and has since only brought in around $12,000, not including excise tax. Jefferson County has had a bit more luck in adding to the state’s sales. The Liquor Control Board has approved two retail licenses so far for the four possible. One of the stores has yet to open, though has the license to proceed. The other, named Sea Change Cannabis, looks to be a veritable success story, with sales numbers growing by a third each month. So far, Sea Change Cannabis’ year to date total, which is the year to date total for Jefferson County at large, stands around $241,200. Perhaps it’s no surprise that King County, with the largest population in the state is bringing in the most money by far. With only four stores so far, out of a possible 61, Uncle Ike’s Cannabis City, Green Theory and Herbal Nation have pulled in a total $6,939,000. Bothell’s Herbal Nation has done the best since opening on Aug. 18, making $2.6 million since then. Seattle’s first pot shop, Cannabis City has come in a close second with $2.5 million made since they opened in July. Many counties have fallen in between these two extremes, though tell an interesting story of their own. Pierce County, which has the second largest population in the state and voted in favor of I-502 with 54.04 percent, passed an outright ban on marijuana activities earlier in the year.  This put the many Tacoma and surrounding entrepreneurs on the defensive as to the future of their marijuana businesses. Meanwhile, Vancouver’s bustling scene has done very well, getting all sorts of tourism from neighboring Portland, though that might change as Oregon strings together its own industry. For a more detail lay out of monthly earnings by application number, check out the lists available from the Liquor Control Board.

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mary jane’s dictionary: how marijuana slang informs advertising

aMarijuana culture enjoys a history of slang and alternative word usage, which will assuredly come into play once advertising really ramps up on the new industry. If you’d like a quick primer, here is an excellent place to begin.

marijuana slang definitionblazin’ a trail with marijuana slang

If asked to create a list of terms to describe marijuana, the average person would have no trouble at all thinking of pot, weed, joint, spliff, roach and any number of words that call up an instant image of the product. Not only that, but as the new industry takes shape the culture has begun to form new slang terms that define the rising success of licensed businesses. Budtenders and ganjapreneurs take the stage to dole out reefer whether it’s 4:20 or not. All of this creates a veritable vocabulary that can come in very handy when approaching the branding or marketing of a marijuana business.

savvy sativa-slingin’

Proper usage of these terms will allow businesses in the industry to do a number of things when marketing their marijuana. Smart use implies that the business is canny to cannabis and cannabis customers. It can establish a base level of trust for new and veteran users to approach what you can offer and not come off as some out-of-touch investor who entered the market with no prior knowledge of the product. Marijuana slang also benefits from a great deal of connotation that immediately trigger meanings for new and old customers. Take such different terms as ‘chronic’ and ‘dank’, they are unique words that speak to an association with marijuana. Pot slang is full of these gems that carry a great deal of significance with them. Using them implies a level of association and knowledge that may be hard to gain otherwise. Furthermore, the vocabulary that has existed for decades and continues to evolve is striking in its uniqueness. It provides an enormous palette from which you can derive any number of slogans, packaging or marketing strategies. In short, don’t be afraid to use the many slang words that surround marijuana culture. It reflects the long history that formed the culture and the one that rose to the task of legalizing the new industry. With that said, you should also approach the use carefully.

don’t aim for the bottom

You still have to employ these words with skill.  There are countless ways that branding can wrongfully use the slang words so graciously given by generations of marijuana cultures. Here are three examples:

  1. Particularly in terms of new businesses looking to establish a firm user base, never approach customers with something that talks down to them. The black market is still a very viable option to most veteran users and it will only hurt to sell them ‘Scooby doobie treats’. Like every other form of marketing, marijuana users are discerning and need to be coaxed and enticed.
  1. Because of that, you should also respect the veteran who has a long knowledge of the proper and current usage of the vocabulary. It would probably be ill advised to begin a campaign calling your products ‘groovy, man’ or to mistakenly call a product snickle-fritz when you mean that it is white rhino. You should know and respect your customers and the culture that formed their recreation.
  1. The other side of that coin is that you don’t want to scare away new and curious customers from being too specific. Remember that you still want to be approachable with your slang. Invite people into the culture with messaging that might subtly explain whether green badger is a good or bad thing. It’s better than shutting them out because they do not speak the language.

Marijuana culture created a rich and varied world of words. Look around, enjoy it and treat it with respect.

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signs of high times: rules for marijuana stores signage

Image via The New Republic

Washington’s rules for recreational marijuana stores get pretty specific about most things, including signage. With all things regulated to the teeth, let’s take a good look at understanding the lengths of the signage restrictions and how best to market your products under such a close watch from the state.

it’s not the size of the signage, it’s how you use it.

The state has limited the size of retail store signs to a maximum of 1,600 square inches, which is just over 11 square feet. Signage is a complicated realm of land use policy that has different rules in different cities and in different zones. Still, the size is pretty small compared to other signs that businesses can use to advertise businesses. Despite the relative size, the rules do not keep businesses from mentioning the purpose of the business. Instead, I-502 encourages it in order to raise awareness to consumers. Just like bars, marijuana customers should also see your signs warning that people under 21 are not permitted on the premises. Enforcement agencies will look for this first and foremost. Besides that, it’s pretty open for how you should cultivate the branding of your store on signage. Find something eye-catching, sure, but always be aware of what customers you want to attract and what they will look for in a trustworthy marijuana store.

slap a label on it.

Product advertising is a little trickier, but also allows for more creativity in the design of the product to attract customers. The Liquor Control Board rules mandated that all product advertising does that to stay away from a number of topics that might seem pretty subjective, so it’s better to play it safe. According to those rules, product labels cannot be misleading, they cannot promote over consumption and they cannot show the use of marijuana to have “curative or therapeutic effects.” The big one that state enforcers will strictly monitor is the restriction from product labels from promoting under age use or attracting it. In a long list, the state bars labels from showing “Objects, such as toys, characters, or cartoon characters suggesting the presence of a child.” Again, this is some pretty subjective stuff, so try not to tread the fine line of government interpretation. Even with those restrictions, the door is still pretty open for how businesses can display their packaged products in store

warnings!

Despite the ‘controlled substance’ thing the federal government continues to claim, marijuana is treated much in the same way as the sale of tobacco and alcohol. Because of the packaging on products must also contain the heft number of warnings meant to educate consumers on the possible dangers of the effect. All advertising must have these warning attached:

  • The product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming
  • Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.
  • There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product
  • For use only by adults 21 and older. Keep out of the reach of children

Selling products without these labels is a quick way to pick up a fine or worse from the Liquor Control Board.

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marijuana myths: 5 ‘truths’ proven false

weed myths

Image via The Weed Street Journal

The majority of Washington voters might have been savvy enough to legalize marijuana, but a lot of bad information still exists out there. Growing cultural acceptance, extended scientific research and the spread of cannabis information has debunked a number of the old marijuana myths out there. Let’s look at a few of the top contenders that might still keep people on the fence, or on the complete other side, of the legal marijuana issue.

marijuana myths – #1: more pot means more crime

One of the largest arguments the anti-legalization crowd employs stems from the belief that legal marijuana would increase the crime rate. A number of recent studies have come out that dispute, and even contradict, that assumption.

A recent study in the journal PLOS one, looked at the relationship between medical marijuana legalization and the crime rates statistics within those areas. Their finding ran “counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.” Crime rates in those areas stayed the same, or even decreased.

Another study looked at boroughs of London that underwent a decriminalization for marijuana possession. It not only found that the crime rate did not go up, but that the police were able to allocate resources towards other crimes. The findings stated “There are significant long run reductions in five non-drug crime types, and significant improvements in police effectiveness against such crimes as measured by arrest and clear-up rates.”

marijuana myths – #2: the gateway effect

A long-held myth describes how marijuana use will make the use of harder drugs easier, providing users the sinister, titular ‘gateway’ into a life of addiction and crime. New and old studies have gone a long way to denying this claim.

The RAND Corporation found that “it is not marijuana use but individuals’ opportunities and unique propensities to use drugs that determine their risk of initiating hard drugs.”

Other studies have gone far to supporting this basic conclusion, like this one from the Journal for Health and Social Behavior. It found a correlation between marijuana use and other drugs, but said the causation does not exist. The report states there is “a moderate relation between early teen marijuana use and young adult abuse of other illicit substances; however, this association fades from statistical significance with adjustments for stress and life-course variables.”

marijuana myths – #3: addicted to pot?

Along with ‘stoner’ stereotypes that dominated the cannabis culture of the last century came the assumption that they these types ‘depended’ on cannabis.

One of the most common studies associated with marijuana dependency found that around four percent of Americans age 15-54 were found to have a dependence on marijuana, compared with 14 percent on alcohol and 24 percent on tobacco. It said nine percent of the people who tried marijuana would develop a dependence.

This study is from 1994, and the problem with even that low level of assumption surrounding marijuana dependence is that these numbers come from drug-war assumptions, according to the Huffington Post. The HuffPo says, “these criteria are chock-full of bias that ignore the reality of non-problematic or beneficial cannabis use.”

To summarize, the dependence on marijuana might exist in small numbers, but it is extraordinarily overshadowed by the much higher dependence displayed by alcohol and tobacco use.

marijuana myths – #4: marijuana makes you lazy

The ‘stoner’ stereotype reflects a person that not only has a dependence on marijuana, but also does very little with his or her life. This common view of marijuana usage has been perpetrated for decades and rarely questioned.

However, new research coming out actually makes the assertion that there are a great deal of lazy, or “amotivational” people out there. The difference is that some use marijuana and others don’t.

The study found “participants who used cannabis seven days a week demonstrated no difference from non-cannabis users on indices of motivation.”

If you don’t believe it, then check out this list of avowed former and current marijuana users.  It’s a pretty successful bunch.

marijuana myths – #5: marijuana has no medicinal benefits

Legalization of recreational marijuana has picked up speed, but the not as much as the medicinal charge that has swept the county (except in Florida). All that good will still hasn’t convinced a large number of folks that marijuana actually has medicinal properties.

Luckily, there are mountains of research that prove otherwise.

There is this study, which found “it is possible to affirm that cannabinoids exhibit an interesting therapeutic potential as antiemetics, appetite stimulants in debilitating diseases, analgesics, as well as in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy and glaucoma.”

Another well cited study found evidence of “symptom relief and improved well-being in selected neurological conditions, AIDS and certain cancers.”

Now that you have the information at hand, help expose these myths. Their continuation only slows the process of acceptance and legalization.

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