This Ex-Banker Wants to Swap Your Chamomile for Cannabis

Article by Jennifer Kaplan, Bloomberg

This Ex-Banker Wants to Swap Your Chamomile for Cannabis

Visit a dispensary in one of the 28 states that legally sell marijuana and you’re likely to find products with monikers like God’s Green Crack, Super Lemon Haze or Skywalker. That’s all about to change as a new breed of ganjapreneurs swoop into the fledgling industry. In a classic consumer-marketing move, they’re getting rid of stoner slang and replacing it with supermarket-friendly names that purport to help customers live better.

Their message: Weed is no longer just for getting high. It’s to help you through your stress, ease you into sleep and get you in the mood for love. In other words, these marketers want to transform the image of marijuana so that it competes with scores of products already in liquor stores, markets and pharmacies.

“I think of our competition not as other edibles,” says Peter Barsoom, a former Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley manager who’s now chief executive officer of 1906, a company that makes cannabis-infused chocolates. “It’s that cup of coffee in the morning, it’s the pill of Ambien to help you sleep, it’s that cup of chamomile tea,” he says.

Legal marijuana sales are projected to grow to $18 billion in the next four years from $7 billion, according to Arcview Market Research, and a small group of companies are racing to give legitimacy to their products by adopting segmentation techniques to broaden marijuana’s appeal.

The first step is lowering potency and classifying weed according to specific mood-enhancing qualities. Then it gets down to good-old fashioned brand segmentation. 1906 — named for the year U.S. statutes first cracked down on marijuana — is introducing products with names such as Go (an energy booster), Pause (for kicking back), Midnight (a sleep aid), Present (to focus) and High Love (for arousal).

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