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Last Word: Here’s Another Vote For Giving the Cannabis Industry an Image Makeover

If you are involved in a cannabusiness, you know this to be true: The Cannabis Industry continues to struggle to let go of the past as it tries to carve out a new, successful future.

I touched on this not too long ago when I suggested that the industry would do well to deep-six longtime marijuana enthusiast Tommy Chong, and his 1970s stoner image, as a spokesperson for legal cannabis. “Having a spokesperson and prominent advocate for the Cannabis Industry who is so closely associated with the negative “stoner” culture isn’t going to help the push for legitimacy one bit,” I wrote, and I still believe that to be true.

Yes, the Cannabis Industry needs to shed the negative images of the past, and that’s why the story this past week at Tech Insider resonated with me, because it suggested that perhaps the industry should drop yet another symbol of the old, illegal stoner days — the pot leaf as a marijuana logo.

Tech Insider stated it pretty plainly: “The seven-pronged pot leaf is the most tired logo in the marijuana industry.

It pointed out that,

Some 44 percent of logos registered as trademarks for weed-related businesses use the plant in their imagery, according to US Patent and Trademark Office records. As a result, the marijuana industry is unable to shed the kitsch vibe that prevents it from being taken seriously.

As the industry transitions from a black market to a $5.4 billion business, it must unburden some of the clichés: reggae music, Rastafarian colors, and Cheech and Chong, just to name a few.”

The Tech Insider is really a story about marketing and branding, and its point that the marijuana leaf logo has been overdone and stomped to death as a symbol for all manner of Cannabis Industry products is a good one. I doubt few would quibble with that.

But, it gets us back to the point I made about Tommy Chong as industry spokesperson: “Is this really the image we want people to be remembering right now?”

Continuing to use the marijuana leaf as an industry symbol is part of that discussion, too. And, with 44 percent of logos for weed-related businesses using it in their trademarks, well, you can see that way too many cannabusinsses are falling back on old, tired, worn-out symbolism.

If the legal marijuana industry is going to continue to grow and progress into mainstream American society, it must push to shed the negative images of the past. That shouldn’t be so hard to understand, but until more in the Cannabis Industry embrace that notion, the uphill climb to legalization will continue to be a lot harder hike than it needs to be.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Here’s another vote for ‘shut the hell up.’ We are in a transitioning period. Make overs need to come once the states have seen their markets stand on their own. You Johnny-come-lately’s jumping into this industry with your opinions and wall street metrics need to take a hike. Those that built this industry should be the direct beneficiaries of this emerging industry. Unfortunately that will not be case. The tool chests are coming out in full force, so listen closely you tool…Go grow, yes and then actually smoke some of this plant you are trying to bank on. Perhaps get a ticket or two, or better yet go get arrested for this plant. Then maybe your limp opinion will mean something. Until then leave this industry for those that started it.

  2. So out of touch. Tommy helped move this issue forward from a time when people were being told that cannabis could actually kill you, to introducing his funny harmless, endearing ‘stoner’ character. He has fought cancer with cannabis and has a brand of cannabis ‘ Chongs choice’. I’m sorry but for a newbie like you to come in now, after “stoners” like Tommy paved the road you are now traveling on is ludicrous and insulting, and a bad business move to alienate cannabis clientele, many of whom love and relate to Tommy. People like myself have risked everything to create this cannabis industry that people like you are now profiting from. Here is a recent post I did on this issue: Its so infuriating when people new to the “industry” try to school me on branding and actually say in an oh so condescending way that while they think what we activists did was ‘great’ and all, those of us opening early dispensaries just didn’t have the business and branding experience as those highly educated business folks rolling in. Or better yet, newbies and even some that have fought their whole lives for the right to celebrate this plant who now feel like they have to scrub clean and sanitize this natural herbs beauty, lecturing us for using the beautiful natural powerful cannabis leaf as an image for a cannabis product, as if it were dirty and bad, scolding us for still using the word marijuana. Are you kidding me? That’s like turning your back on the American flag after fighting a war for America. What the hell do you think some of us have been fighting for all these years??? I started on the bus with jack herer 26 years ago at the height of the just say no era and drug war in a bus with the pot leafs painted all over it. It was a time when you would get jacked up by the police for having a bumper sticker that said the word hemp on it, a time if you actually saw someone displaying the cannabis leaf symbol on a sticker or shirt you felt an instant bond of camaraderie and respect for their willingness to be loud and proud about it. Don’t tell me now about how it’s not good for the look of the ‘cannabis industry’. And the lectures about not being branding savy.:.please! It was six years after I’d opened my first dispensary that my name was ever in the press associated with cannabis business. By then I had turned down two reality shows a good morning America appearance, countless major news outlet interviews and chances to promote my “brand” When in about 2007 a reporter from Sacramento insisted on doing a story about our collective program because it was so awesome and said he was going to print it with our assistance or not I made a deal with him where he would keep our identity secret and the identity of those involved secret to protect our collective, so we had a huge news story that doesn’t say the city or the name or anybody working there just tells the good work our collective did. Ngaio used to do a list of his 10 favourite collective’s back in the day and capital wellness collective was always in there often number one with ‘undisclosed location’ listed as the address. We actually used to buy an ad just with our services calendar that was filled with our over 200 monthly free services and programs, our community centres and community gardens, the free homeless preschool program we supported with the Catholic church, our toy drives to Shriners, our road sign for trash pickup that just read Sacramento medical marijuana patients on it to say loud and proud we were here not to promote any one ‘brand’, but that cannabis people, marijuana people, that yes stoners were not bad people and criminals. I can only imagine what a big story those things would be today and how hard people would work that for their brands in the media. Schooling me on branding… LOL these are people that never knew what it feels like to fear the raid, to go through the raid, to jump at every noise you hear outside your house thinking this is it, this is when I go federal prison and lose my children forever, to train your children how to react when a raid goes down to keep them safe and alive, having to call your children from jail and hearing your nine-year-old daughter say mommy mommy you don’t think the feds are going to pick up the case do you and burst into tears. Branding… LOL or the day that the Supreme Court decided that all dispensaries are illegal in the state of California and we threw a party at our dispensary with tons of balloons and cupcakes and beer we swore that when they came through the door they wouldn’t see us in fear of them but in defiance of what we knew was right. Waiting for the feds to roll in, watching as other people around us got hit waiting waiting waiting all night but they never came! Branding…lol or that time that they raided me without a proper search warrant and then kept me for hours “detained” with no water no bathroom or food while I was pregnant trying to coerce me to sign a new search warrant… How about Luke Scarmazzo who at 27 years old got 22 years for doing the exact same thing I was doing, operating a legal dispensary in the eastern district of California or my dear friend Eddie Lepp who is currently serving 10 years in federal prison for a few hundred plants he was growing for some patients, he an American veteran that fought for his country, or my dear heart Mollie Fry that used to go to rallies with me with her children; we’d often be the only ones with our kids there, she was shamefully sent to federal prison for five years, my greatest fear, taken away from her children because she was willing to write the earliest medical cannabis recommendations… Waiting every day for them to come and grab me and take away my kids. Driving down the freeway to this day and having my son point out a hotel on the water front of Oakland and say mom there’s ‘raid hotel’ from back in the day when everyone around us was getting raided by the feds, I’d go hide out with my kids to try to keep them safe for a raid…oh I never planned to run ever I always would stay and fight I just didn’t want my kids to be there, every year kids are hurt and killed in drug raids by police and I lived in fear of that every minute of every day. School me some more about how I didn’t understand about branding when Bush was president and most of y’all ‘industry’ people would never dare step in and at the time were calling people like me crazy drug dealers… Disavow the symbol of everything I ever fought for, hell no. Oh and on behalf of the original warriors the ones that fought for that symbol, you’re welcome…

    ‘If not for love then why?’

    1. Audrey,

      Ain’t America great! Where else can someone air their opinion without fear of being thrown in jail for subversive comments.

      I love your passionate response to the story that John Hollon, CBE’s editor posted this past Tuesday in CBE Week and salute your devotion to moving the ball forward in ending prohibition for so long. Folks like you, Jack Herer, Steve D’Angelo, Keith Stroup and on and on had the balls to fight for their beliefs way before CBE entered the fray as advocates and believers in establishing a highly credible, transparent, legitimate and responsibly regulated industry that we all can be proud of. And to be sure, we welcome your articulate comments and look forward to continuing to bring information to our readers that help them think about what we are all building and helping them achieve profitability as any good business would.

      As they say, there are always more than one side to a story and John’s opinion reflect his perspective , not necessarily mine and surely not yours.

      Keep fighting the good cause, I finally had the balls to jump in 5 years ago!


      Rob Meagher

      PS: CBE has the leaf in our logo….the boss of CBE agrees with you! :-)!

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