Make Way for the Corporate Stoner

Pop Culture

Make Way for the Corporate Stoner

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré

 

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cross the United States, venture capitalists, investors, and other terms stoners have a hard time understanding, are looking to make history by getting into the marijuana business. As marijuana becomes a more acceptable thing to consume, the idea of the stoner as a protesting dropout is making way for a different breed – the corporate stoner. They’ve ditched their tie-dye for tweed, their dreadlocks for trendy corporate haircuts, and their beads for cufflinks.

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According to ganjapreneur.com, a listing website for professional potheads, companies with names like Blast Funding LLC and Emerald Ocean, have been investing big money in the marijuana business. Microsoft was the first big corporate to make headlines for passing the peace pipe. It announced a partnership with a company called Kind that wants to make marijuana ATMs, to track plants from “seed to sale”. Microsoft will not be packaging and selling the stuff itself, but this is a pretty big deal, since it is the first official involvement of a mainstream company in this corporate drum circle.

In Colorado, the legalisation of marijuana has attracted investors and retailers. The marijuana market is projected to reach $21.8 billion sales by 2020 – a number that should make any stoner say, “Woah, man.” That projection is slightly higher than what the National Football League is expected to make. Which means we could expect to see professional stoners with WAGs pretty soon.

This whole situation marks a pretty clear shift from what we thought American stoners looked like. Where’re Harold and Kumar, Cheech and Chong, Jay and Silent Bob? Aren’t stoners supposed to be the guys who can’t move much, but are always protesting some kind of intervention (both into foreign countries and their fries)? In a very short span of time, it seems like marijuana has gone from being a thing that could fry your brain like an egg, to a drug that could cure a bunch of ailments, to something that could soon be consumed at a McDonald’s.

If India does ever go down the path of legalisation, like some would want it to, the corporates won’t waste time jumping in. Can you imagine if a corporate decided to get into the marijuana game, and then rise to the top via some very aggressive advertising? We’d have ads on the radio with jingles like: “Reliance Number Ek Maal, Sirf 4,000 Rupay Mein!” Maybe Parle Agro will roll out ParleWeed biscuits, in case you feel like consuming the opposite of glucose today. Once Patanjali takes a hit of the marijuana game, there’s no knowing what you’re smoking anymore.

In the US, where it is legal, Love Street and Wall Street are on a collision course.

More intelligent businesses will try and vertically integrate (I think that’s the term), so we can expect a few potato chip companies to jump into the fray. Maybe they’ll give out free joints in a special adult bag of chips, so people will come back for more. Magic Masala, indeed. Pretty soon they’ll be fighting over themselves to try and make pot as unique to their brand as possible. If advertising weed is made legal, we’d presumably have Hrithik Roshan selling seductive weed, Ranveer Singh selling sporty weed, and Uday Chopra selling the most potent variety.

Since we’re a country with the world’s youngest entrepreneurs, we could expect to see some pretty blazing start-ups. The IITian and the IIMite who dabbled a bit back in the day will no longer have to worry about buying a few clean shirts on his way out of hostel, but attend brainstorming sessions with a bong in hand. Who knows, maybe he could even wear beads around his neck.

But this is provided weed is legalised of course. In the US, where it is legal, Love Street and Wall Street are on a collision course. According to Vice, “As fancy dispensaries and stylish products proliferate, many in the industry are calling to rebrand cannabis and shed the stoner stigma.” Meanwhile, The New York Post featured a man who went to Fordham Graduate School of Business, lives on the Upper West Side of NYC, and ended up raising $5,00,000 to start marijuana storage device lifestyle brand.

Clearly, the prospect of making big money is clearing the haze over the “poor stoner” stereotype a little. The idea of the high-functioning stoner, who goes to work, makes enough money to buy shampoo, and later lights with his buddies and disowns all his possessions, is beginning to take shape (in one half of one country all the way across a few oceans, at least). But since it’s the same country that influenced our attitude toward smoking marijuana back in the ’80s, maybe we’ll follow suit again.

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